Archives for November 2009

24Nov

Health Insurance in America-A Myriad of Mythical Thinking

I have been subject to a number of advertisements wherein an elderly and elegant woman talks about the billions that congress is about to spend on healthcare if this bill passes congress.  This woman warns that “higher taxes” and “trillion dollar debt” is going to cripple the American economy.  I have to say that my calm nature becomes internally enraged.  There is even a militant feminist hiding out in my psyche screaming at this woman, “YOU’VE BEEN CO-OPTED BY THE MALE SEXIST PIGS IN POWER”.

Oh yes, I am very angry with this woman.  Where was she when the Bushes were spending trillions on war machines and back pocket politics that made all relatives and friends of the Bushes – not millionaires – but billionaires?  Where was this nice elegant old lady when we ran this country into the ground by paying ridiculous prices to keep a war going that was going nowhere?  And HELLO – health care will run the American Economy into the ground?  Are you kidding?  The American economy has already been run into the ground.  We are living on the ground.

And here is what Ted Kennedy said, and by the way, Ted Kennedy spent a life time trying to get universal health care passed in the legislature.  Ted Kennedy said, “do you see any congressmen or senators walking around sick?  No, they immediately get healthcare right here in this building (referring to capitol grounds), everyone should have the kind of healthcare that legislators receive for free.”  There was irony in his words, as he referred to the fact that senators and congressman get free health care and don’t even need it, as they have insurance and funding.

Why are Americans reticent about claiming this right, the right to universal health care?  I just don’t understand.  The stupid arguments dreamed up by fat insurance companies and an even fatter American Medical Association are trite.  Remember when they claimed that healthcare would have to be rationed if we opened it up to everyone?  Are you kidding?  We ration healthcare in America, only those who can pay receive it.  Those who cannot pay are those who are rationed out of the system, often straight into a grave.

For decades, the most dangerous risk factor for dying of breast cancer has been lack of insurance.  Now we’ve added another “statistic” to our financial rationing of health care.  Guess who is dying now?  Pediatric trauma victims are dying now.  Yep, the risk factor for dying after trauma if you are a child?  Lack of health insurance, geez, there’s alot of that going around…

So, for that elderly elegant woman who is in the commercial admonishing Americans to NOT agree to universal healthcare, I can say two things: her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren must be insured and her family doesn’t suffer from breast cancer?  Or – the truth is – she is just uninformed and ignorant.  Please do not be ignorant, universal health care is for EVERY one, not just the rich and insured, that’s why it’s called universal.

24Nov

Taking for Granted-The Antithesis of Thanksgiving

I guess it’s appropriate that these two concepts would collide, given today’s date and my current experiences.  I am aware that alot of people take a vast number of things for granted.  Surely I know all about that because I am a mother and I was also a daughter.  If we have a good mother, we seem to think that it is right and correct and the way things ought to be, and if not, woe is me.

I left my boyfriend of so many years to move to Virginia.  In a post-break-up conversation he is telling me how hard it is to date.  He has many regrets, and he is contemplating that if he had treated me like he has to treat his dates, I would not be in Virginia, I would be at home with him.  I think it is ironic that he is telling me his insights, when so often I was trying to convince him of the very same concepts.  My convincing very obviously didn’t work.  Yikes, but here is the rub, I’m not here to complain about being taken for granted, taken advantage of, etc. ad nauseum.

Okay, to move on.  I have been a manager for many years, and here is an issue that I periodically run across as I am supervising individuals and sometimes even groups.  It’s a common and recognizable phenomena that all managers recognize, it’s the “Everything is fine as it is, why should we change?”  Or the panicked “Everything is changing!”   This is an indicator for the “taking for granted syndrome”.  This is where and when folks get entrenched in the ‘way it is’.  Performance is a non-issue for these folks because they have been in the same place for a long time and performance issues just have not been an issue.   I see this as taking your job for granted.   When you are in any relationship, whether it be your job, your supervisor, your wife, your lover and your mantra is “I am comfortable, don’t move, don’t change” then you are taking your situation for granted.

But it’s more than that.  In all of these instances, we see a person developing a belief that being comfortable is good and that no personal stretching or effort is required.  Nothing could be further from the truth, ask anyone who has ever been married and they will be happy to tell you that maintaining the status quo (marriage) is a very difficult chore.  There is no comfort involved in being successful and happy marriages (for example) take work, take stretching and take personal growth.  But, at no time ever, do happy marriages take for granted…

13Nov

Your Eyes Have to be Open to GET the Psychic Karma Lesson

Our lives and relationships intertwine, affect each other and all.  Sometimes I forget that each and every little thing is important and has an impact.  I find myself at this time, learning multiple lessons from multiple relationships of mine – that though superficially – do not impact each other, certainly impact me.  In July, 36 years ago, I met the then 3 year old Jill Patricia.  I claimed her as my own.  My marriage to her father was brief, but my love for Jill lingered.  In those halcyon days Van Morrison’s song “My Brown Eyed Girl” was Jill’s song.  Throughout these many years Jill and I have maintained our relationship.  I continued to be involved in raising her, participating in all of those motherly decisions that are part of the process, driver’s license acquisition, medical care decisions and later, I held her tightly when her father passed away.  In my mind, she has always been my eldest child.  As a mother, I have developed many talents, as a woman, many more.  One of these talents is trust and faith in my intuition.  I always know when something is “going on” or “wrong” with my kids.  Though I did not give birth to Jill, somehow that primal maternal instinct has covered her.  So last week when I heard the song “Brown Eyed Girl” twice – in the span of two weeks – I knew I needed to talk to Jill.

Nineteen years ago, Jill and I had our very worst argument and it was because I refused to accept her adult decisions.  I wanted her to go to college and “become” something, she rejected a scholarship to Penn State and instead, decided to get married to her high school sweetheart.  The argument was bitter and it cost me dearly – as I did not attend the wedding, I was not invited.  Almost two years passed before her father died and during that time I had no contact with Jill and my heart hurt the entire time.  It was a lesson in how to love your adult kids, nothing is worth losing them.

Yet, I did not learn the entire lesson.  So many things have contributed to where I am now and what is going on with my kids at this moment in time.  In the intervening years between Jill’s father and now, I have many more children, all from different directions.  I gave birth to four, adopted one and fostered another.  I did all of this in the cozy comfort of a generous husband and a loving and supportive mother.  Eventually my marriage did not work and my mother passed away.  My now ex-husband, though angry and short-sighted, continued to care for his children and love them.  He was not very good at expressing love and would often say to me, “You take care of that and then call me and tell me what they need and I will get it for them.”  The negotiations were often intense and at one point, I chose out and told him “you do your own talking with the kids!”  I was always positive that he loved them dearly, but was just retarded about expressing that love.  Lesson number two: you have what you have, work with it.

My younger kids father passed away 2 and 1/2 years ago and that is what I like to call “family interrupted.”  He was too young to die, but he did it anyway with his first and only heart attack.  Now my mother is gone and my kids fathers are gone and I am alone and trying to figure things out.  Now, I have all of these grown kids who are wandering, also trying to figure things out.

So last year, I find myself in an un-tenable situation.  My career is on stall, my boss – well, I won’t go down that road.  My relationship on the rocks and generally I had allowed myself to slide into a very large unhappiness.  My life was not WORKING.  It showed, it did not help that menopause set in with a vengeance.  But mostly, I just found myself incredibly alone and lonely.  There are all of these adult kids, I can’t help them, I always let their dad take care of matters financial and I was lost in a sea of grief and frustration.  Once again, I am mentally separated from Jill and she is too busy to contact me.  Her oldest child is finishing her senior year and going to college and her youngest is moving into high school.

I did what anyone would do and I changed everything.  Indeed, I was at Barnes & Noble and read a quote from a book that said “If things are changing, change Everything!”  So I did.  I looked for and applied for jobs anywhere and everywhere and I actually found one (which is amazing) and I took it!  I packed up my entire house, put it into a 26′ truck and left Florida and moved to Virginia.

Now here’s the psychic karma lesson:  I have one person left in this entire world who not only loves me, but is capable of loving and supporting me; and that is my sister.  My kids love and support me, but that is very different.  My sister listens when I tell her about my kids and she genuinely cares about them and what I have to say.  She is my last adult refuge.  She has taught me so MANY important lessons.  There are so many variations of thinking wrongly that it is difficult to count.

So my sister decides to help me with the move, and as a vacation, she accompanies us.  In Georgia, I have a melt-down and I cannot drive, then the following day, in South Carolina, I REALLY have a melt down and my son who is driving the truck goes to get my sister, who is driving my car and she comes to get me because I am weeping.  I cannot believe that I have taken my entire life apart and endeavored to take this journey to a new state, a new job and to be alone again.  Finally the source of my anxiety erupts to the surface and I admit that alone, I am not enough of a parent for my kids.  I can’t possibly fulfill what they need from parents.  I tell her that since Travis died, I cannot make up for all that is missing from my kids lives.  And my sister says to me “You can’t possibly go through life stumbling from one death to the next, waiting for the next death and hurting all the way through.”  Somehow what she says soothes me and we are able to continue our journey.

And then, I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but I become frustrated with my sister.  And I am frustrated with her in the same way that I was frustrated with Jill 19 years ago.  I disrespected her life decisions, I want her to do something different than what she is doing and I want her to be something different than what she is being.  So here is where I am now beginning to get the full lesson that was available 19 years ago: acceptance.  Both women, my step-daughter Jill, my sister Becky made life decisions that geographically separated them from me.  In some ways, these decisions also made them psychically different than me.  Because I love them intensely, I want their psyches to lead them down the same path that I am on and at the same pace.  In retrospect, how crazy and in other ways, how selfish.  So that is how life lessons will come back to haunt you.  I did not learn full acceptance 19 years ago when I argued with Jill over her life decisions, I clung to my idea of how the world should operate and it polluted my relationship with the only person that I have left who supports me in my role as parent.   Becky is also the one who loves me unconditionally and is genuinely happy to hear me and talk to me.

I am lucky that I did not lose Jill for good.  I am also very lucky that Becky’s love for me is steadfast even in the face of my own self-centeredness.  Full circle, I must find acceptance in my heart for ALL of my loved one’s decisions, allow my kids to be who they are, make the mistakes and yes, I will get hurt, but with any luck and a lot of work, I can maintain the relationships.  I need to find this acceptance in my heart for every relationship that I have.  I must, it is myself who suffers when I reject another’s life.  I have found Jill again, indeed I am now only 5 hours away from her, we are making plans for Christmas, YAY.  I now rejoice in the choices that she made that have brought us here.  Similarly I rejoice in Becky’s choices.  I take the lesson from Travis and I work with what I have.  Life is not about what I want other people to do and be for me.  I am a lucky woman.  And all of those kids I have?  They are great adults who are finding their way, they are loving and handsome people who make their own choices, all of whom have  a mother who will accept and honor their decisions.