Archives for November 2012

30Nov

Not In My Lifetime

But it will happen.  For 20 years I have worked in public health care.  Since the beginning of this career, I have listened to dozens of managers and/or leaders pontificate on how wasteful it is to have “silos” of power and money – in other words: departments that compartmentalize job functions.  For example, mental health care does not include substance abuse treatment, does not include eating disorders and further does not address behaviorally induced chronic illnesses.

Every single manager I have ever met always wants the “other” department head to give up power, thus facilitating coordination and economies of scale.  No one (that I have ever met) is willing to give up their own power for the greater good.  In this country, we waste billions of dollars on redundancy and dis-organization and most for the purpose of power silos, in other words, unnecessary compartmentalization of functions.  People like their power; it is not something that most will give up.

Here is the thing that I can foresee.  I know young people very well; lots of them are related to me.  I believe that they will change things; indeed, the truth is, they already have done that, no question.  I think that they will change the whole dynamic of bureaucracy and government.  I do not think that they will tolerate the misappropriations that have run so rampant in America for the last 75+ years. 

I am basing this conclusion on a couple of different concepts.  One is that I see that this generation is very serious about parenting.  The quality of fatherhood has increased because our society highly values fathering of children.  I see young men indulging in their love for their children, whereas their fathers may have shied away from such exhibitions of emotion.  This is good for us.  We are better humans when we share and express love.  Now engaged, it is difficult to disengage.  An engaged father finds it much more difficult to be inhumane to others, read: less willing to cheat and steal.

The second (two) concept is…authenticity, they’ve got it in spades! 

My generation (and I am a late baby boomer) were professional fakers, our fondest wish was to compete with the Joneses.  We may have started out as hippies and flower children, but it was a way of thinking that did not stick with us.  Instead, we competed with each other and put on massive charades.  This we did, in a number of ways, including faking happiness and a good marriage, extreme credit card debt and spousal cheating.  All of these processes involve lots of lying, the opposite of authenticity.  Our adult kids do not put up with this nonsense. 

I am not saying that there is not a huge interest in “getting rich quick” and “rapping your way to wealth”, what I am saying, is that, in spite of the romanticism with fame and fortune, our kids are much less willing to be fake and put on these types of charades.  I find young people to be much more willing to be sincere, honest and caring.  They also seem to be reaching out more than my self-absorbed generation was capable of doing.  For example, young people are creating charitable organizations and taking care of their neighborhoods, not just their homes!  Just this morning I saw on the news, a story about a New York City police officer giving a pair of boots to a homeless man.  When the news anchor interviewed the police officer, I thought, “oh my goodness, that kid can’t be more than 22 years old!”

As cynical and jaded as our recent presidential election made all of us feel; we can turn right around and within our own families find a great hope for the future.  Our kids are not only walking forward into a future that we will never see; they are also making a future that we could only dream of.

 

30Nov

Stephanie Said and I Agree:

When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation.

22Nov

Yes, It’s Thanksgiving!

I owe this one to http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121121152707-101213441-dealing-with-the-turkeys-in-your-life .  I’ve been tussling with this concept all week: and that is, what is the source of my success?  Of course, lingering in that conversation is the twin, what is the source of failure?

Fresh success owns a determination that is new and young.  As we move through life, we will inevitably face obstacles.  Some of these obstacles will be awful – they will stop us in our tracks for years, where we simply linger in the nether region of just getting through each day.  Others we can navigate safely, moving through the detritus to the other side of the calamity.

And, as even Peter Guber confesses “I learned I wasn’t in charge of success.  I was in charge of the process that would hopefully yield more success than failure.” Wow.  The economic downturn has taught us a lot and one of the myths that is being overturned, is this idea that “with a positive attitude I can be a millionaire too”.  It’s just not true.  However,

What is true is this: how I feel about what happens and consequently how I react to what happens is an important predictor for my success.  Having a positive attitude truly does change things.  A positive attitude structures positive beliefs and that leads us to positive behavior, like a chain reaction, you are moved towards happiness in a systematic manner.

So here is what I want to say on this beautiful Thursday, Thanksgiving morning:  Thank goodness.  We made it to this beautiful island in the storm.  It is absolutely beautiful here and wherever our journey brings us next, we will endure and we will also rejoice.  We will keep on moving, because that is a strategy that does not fail.

21Nov

Feudalism: Olive Garden Style

It has been a couple of centuries since feudalism was considered okay.  Since when do Americans believe it is okay for entitled rich to place their feet on the back of hard working Americans and tell them to work harder for less so that the profit will make the shareholders happier?  It is an old concept, Europe and certainly, Asia were built on the idea that “someone else” had to work and get their hands dirty so that a privileged few could have as much as they wanted.
Another word for feudalism is communism.  Yes, yes, centralize the power around a very few people and everyone else lives or starves on the whims of the few in power.  That is how communism actually worked, though, not a real definition for communism.  We all know what Russia and China has been like: a central regime of power, which was merciless to the common people.  For America, that translation is money, money equates to power in America. 
I am on this rant because of an article in www.tampabay.com.  In the article, which is titled Hey Papa John: Stop whining about Obamacare, the writer Matthew Yglesias veers from the title and tells us that Darden Restaurants does NOT want to insure their employees’ health.  Darden owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster and they have decided that in order to get around the healthcare insurance expense they are going to cut their employees hours to 29 hours per week.  By cutting employees hours they will have part time employees who are exempt from the health care coverage mandate.
Now let’s just say here, that you are a human being who makes a living as a waiter with Red Lobster; you have sacrificed your personal health, because you have gone for years without healthcare.  Your circumstances are that you have a family and your income pays for rent and food.  You were hoping that by voting for Barack Obama, you could finally get the health care that your now aging body needs, only to find out that the shareholders of Darden restaurant do not want to lose .09 cents, in order to include you in a healthcare plan.  Instead the shareholders have instructed the management staff to cut your hours and make you into a part time employee.  How do you feel?

21Nov

If I am too Appealing, Then I must Suffer the “Idiot’s Embrace”

18Nov

Personally Political

Ack, politics are not my thing.  I want to say that I was personally embarrassed by women who were willing to cast votes for the Republican party.  As a woman, as a supporter of Planned Parenthood, as a 20 year Healthcare Administrator, I was apalled by the willingness of women to defer to a position of “white male supremacy” (the old ‘I know better than you’).  I don’t mean to split the world into bad and good.  I just don’t understand a woman agreeing with a politician who states that it is not her right to choose how she treats her body.  A couple of weeks ago Marilyn Vos Savant (Parade magazine’s over 200 IQ consultant writer) responded to a question about why people advocate for ridiculous ideas and she reminded us of two realities about being human: one is that if we admit to making a mistake because of wrong thinking – then we are afraid that it will cast our entire life into question.  We don’t want to question ourselves at that level.  We will also agree with our chosen group’s philosophy (Republican / Democrat) because we want to be a successful member of our group.

Still… I’ve got to say that it hurt my heart to see women voting for Republicans.  I know that is a bold statement, I know that there are folks who will be angry with me about this statement, I just have to say, that it was a difficult experience for me.  It was also quite gratifying to see the biggest offenders get voted out of office.  Thank Goodness!

Bruce Says: “I feel that the so called ‘Religious Extremists’ in this country are no better than the Taliban in their treatment of women.  I am so thankful that several of our nations elected officials were voted out of office, based on their insane remarks re: rape and a woman’s right to choose.  I am hopeful that the American public are more concerned with fairness, humanity, and individual freedoms than ‘ The Economy’.”

I also want to add my academic perspective: health care economists have been doing research on the cost of health care for decades.  We are not the only country in the world who has grappled with these difficult issues.  There are a few facts which are hardly ever discussed and are nonetheless part of the fabric of this country.  For a couple of decades now we have an embarrassingly high infant mortality rate.  For the poor in our own country, it compares with third world statistics on infant mortality rate – it is embarrassing that our high infant mortality rate compares with third world countries.  Second Fact: for decades now, the predictor for dying of breast cancer has nothing to do with medicine, the predictor for dying of breast cancer is based on whether or not you have insurance.  If you have breast cancer and no insurance, you are much more likely to die.  Now the third statistic, which is extremely scarey, is the fact that uninsured pediatric trauma victims do not receive the care neccessary to gain a full recovery.  There are people in this country that would have us believe that these three populations are somehow responsible for their own lack of medical care.  My answer to that is simple: Admit that, in America, we ration health care by depriving it from the poor.  This has been an economic fact since the beginning of the study of health care economics.  Other countries in this world have come up with workable health care plans for their entire population.  I say that America has the best brains, the best technology and certainly enough wealth to take care of its own.

05Nov

Become “That Person” and I’ll Leave You Too

“That Person” has been played out in my life.  “That Person” has taken many shapes and sizes, yet they are all extremely predictable: this is the one who will always, always be right, and will always, always have a bit of correction for you.  This person always explains to you in great detail how you MISunderstood, because, of course “that person” never misunderstands anything.  This is also the person who wants to tell you how it is that every bad or unlucky thing that has happened to you is your fault, there is some improvement that you could have made or some way that you could have changed things in order for this disappointment to be improved.  They always have an after-the-fact, fixer-upper statement.

Oh my, if you do happen to make an error “that person” will make sure to bring it up again and again in excruciating detail, so that you can “learn from the mistake and improve yourself with personal growth.”  “That Person” always assumes the Wiser Than Thou stance, and falls over him or herself to give you the benefit of their wisdom so that you might one day, be as wise and all-seeing as they are.

“That Person” will harangue you, trying to get you to agree to their own perception of the universe and their perception is never good for you.  Their perception will always include an opinion of you that is “less-than”- or “not-good-enough”.

“That Person” will never cut you a break because their emotions about themselves will not allow it.  “That Person” must be holier-than-thou in order to have some self okay-ness.  If this person does not “one-up” you, they feel less than.  They cannot possibly just “be”.

They are the boss that is full of criticism, your friend who must point out each and every flaw (they are trying to help you ‘grow’), your relative who will never appreciate what you do and must always point out what you have not done…

Therein lies the threat.  I have left several of these people behind me, but they keep coming.  They never believe me.  I always say very clearly “Stop criticizing me, I do not like it.”  They either flat-out ignore me, or they give me platitudes about my own well-being.  No really, sometimes I look around because I can’t quite believe what people are saying to me.  As if “that person” could EVER know what is good for me.  So, when I leave them, they are always a bit surprised or mystified, as if I never said anything to warn them about my departure. 

Really, if you are “That Person” and you do not have unlimited quantities of cash, watch out, everyone WILL leave you.  It is just a matter of time.  Being a righteous know-it-all will eventually make you very lonely.

If you want people in your life: acceptance and “being” will keep people close.  It may not enhance the size of your ego, but it will certainly enhance the size of your family.  You choose.

02Nov

Baking Cookies

For as long as I can remember, I have been making great quantities of baked goods (cookies, fudge, candy and pies) every year, at this time, for the holidays.  I spent ten years perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe and then I changed it some more to make it a healthy cookie.  I was going through menopause and the doctors said, “no more white sugar and no more white flour”.   So the recipe was updated even again.  I still have the original version written on a message pad that I bought in 1986.  That’s how serious I have always been about my holiday baking.

Well, a couple of years ago, I quit smoking.  I am not sure that it was soon enough, but, it is what it is.  I was 52… since then, I have been s.t.r.u.g.g.l.i.n.g. with my weight.  Suddenly I find myself needing a Ph.D. in nutrition.  Recently, I was talking with my daughter-in-law and she expressed a frustration with this very need.  If you want to be healthy in today’s America, you must do an e.x.t.r.e.m.e. amount of research and NOT trust anything you see on the food packaging.  It really is that difficult to find good food.  So my favorite daughter-in-law tells me that she has actually become resentful because food companies make it difficult to just simply go grocery shopping.  But I digress…apologies.

This year, I have no little people around to bake for.  My grown sons have partners, and everyone seems to want to eschew sugar.  I don’t get the warm fuzzy vibes for cookies and holiday sweets locally.  My partner and I are working very hard on losing another ten pounds before the holidays.  He is going to the gym and I am faithfully walking twice a week and stretching three times a week.  We eat tons of vegetables and I make an extreme effort to cook dinners that are less than 500 calories.  We quit ice cream, rarely eat bread and finally: the pasta is whole grain.  I want you to know that I resisted whole grain pasta for YEARS.

My oldest daughter has been instrumental in our diet transformation.  She finally convinced me through a series of (lectures really) research articles, that food, has indeed changed in the last 30 years.  My own observation is that some things are going back to the way they were when my mother was cooking, for example, now my daughter tells me that sugar is the “safest” sweetener (and so the pendulum swings, doesn’t it?).

In any case, this year I said to myself “self, don’t bake all of that mess, you don’t want to eat cookies and fudge now, it will just mess up your diet, no one likes that stuff and no one appreciates that stuff.”  Well then, here is what happened; I started thinking about my mothers (Patsy and Ella Mae) and their cooking and all of our traditions.  I got all nostalgic and then I remembered that my partner’s son-in-law loves home baked goodies.  Then I thought about my daughter in Virginia, who doesn’t worry so much about food processing and sugar and she is taking care of 3 boys under the age of 4!  Then I thought about posterity.  And, of course!  Here is the other piece: I love baking and cooking and fooling around in the kitchen.  I figure that I can find an audience that will appreciate holiday goodies from my kitchen.  I just have to mail them away very quickly so that my partner and I do not gain 5 pounds.

I can’t quit baking yet, I’m just not going to give it up.  I will, some day, and maybe even soon, just not today…

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies:

I do use butter flavor Crisco, for a couple of reasons: today’s margarine has a lot of water in it, so it messes up the recipe.  On the other hand, butter melts too quickly in the oven and the cookies come out flat.  The Crisco has some hydrogenated oil, but I don’t know how to get around that flaw yet.  So here it is:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1&3/4 cups of unbleached whole wheat organic flour
1/2 cup of unbleached white flour (needed for recipe stability)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix in large bowl – I use a fork to stir the dry ingredients briskly
In another bowl, cream together 1 stick of butter flavor Crisco with 1 cup of hard packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup of regular white sugar
Mix in 2 eggs with the beater and 1&1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Blend / mix the two bowls together into whichever bowl is the biggest.
Add your chocolate chips, 12 ounces is = to 2 cups, I also add 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  Some folks do not like nuts in their cookies, you can take half of the dough out and add walnuts to just that half.
It usually takes about 12 minutes for the cookies to be done, I look for a tan crown on the top of the cookie.
I now use parchment paper (which I love) for baking cookies, well worth skipping the cookie sheet clean up.
25 years ago, I invested in a Revereware stainless steel cookie sheet (no aluminum), it has served me very well.  If you are going to bake, it is worth the investment.

I hope that however you decide to celebrate, that it makes you happy and fills your heart with joy.