Monday, October 29, 2012

My Name is Barb and I am a Whistler

"Barbara, quit whistling!", my mom would yell, exasperated at my serenading her in the kitchen. That was the best place in the world to whistle, it was so LOUD! Of course, I would continue to whistle until she yelled three times, then I would acquiesce to her demands.

I am not sure when I started whistling, it seems like I have been doing it all my life. That is the thing about whistling, it just happens. You don't really pay attention to it. It is like breathing.

There is a cafe in the building where I work and the woman who runs it is blind. She recognizes me by my whistle as I walk in the door, but the first time I visited her cafe she thought I was a man. I never thought about whistling and gender before. I told her no I am not a man, and yes, I love to whistle. She smiled.

Then there was that day I walked out of the bathroom, whistling of course. Large bathrooms are even better than mom's kitchen. "Oh, so YOU'RE the whistler," said a woman on her way in. Busted. No privacy for me in the stall, I thought.

Many people have told me how much they love to hear me whistle, how it reminds them of someone long gone. I guess it is a dying art. I usually only see old men in bib overalls whistling in the Farm and Fleet Store. Maybe farmers are just happier people.

Why do we whistle anyway? Is it to attract a mate? Hasn't worked for me yet. Is it a physiological expression of happiness much like tears are of sorrow? I would agree with that. Whistling makes me happy. And when I am happy I whistle. A positive feedback loop.

Perhaps it is an evolutionary link to the days when we were once bird-like. Oh wait, we crawled out of the primordial ooze as reptiles. But birds originated as reptiles, right? Hmm. Facinating.

I was standing in line at the grocery store one day when the person behind me started whistling. I was startled to hear a fellow whistler, and turned around only to see it was a woman whistling! I said to her, "Hey! Another whistler like me!" We talked about our love of whistling and found we were both unable to control the little tunes that pop out of our pursed lips.

The only other female whistler I ever saw was at a nursing home in Indiana. The entertainment of the day was a woman who whistled to cassette recordings of tunes from yesteryear. She would stand there holding her microphone and whistle away to the captive audience. Interesting. Never thought of doing that.

One place I worked had a very unhappy secretary whom nobody liked. Many times a day I would have to walk through the office area to get to the copy machine. Sometimes I would whistle. Well, OK, probably lots of times I would whistle. One day she yelled at me. "Will you please not whistle in this office?", she said, not very nicely. I guess whistling was too happy for her grumpy demeanor. It was carpeted for gosh sakes, not like a bathroom or a kitchen!

If you are a woman, like to whistle, and believe in superstition, don't read Wikipedia's entry on whistling. You will find out that in the Philippines it is improper for women to whistle in public. The US Navy has a saying that only homosexuals whistle. In old England, the saying was "a whistling woman never marries". Oh god, why didn't anyone tell me these things when I was but a child?

Someday I hope to attend the International Whistler's Convention in South Carolina. Check out the site, there are some videos of award winning whistlers. I listened to a few of them, and I must say I think I could hold my own pretty well if I practiced up a bit. Now a word of caution, if you have never seen a whistler perform, it does look a bit strange, but you get used to it.

Well I say, if Snow White says it, it is good enough for me. Give a little whistle.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yearning for Christmas

A couple weeks ago I stopped in the pharmacy and noticed the Christmas merchandise was starting to fill the shelves. Have you noticed that this red and green stuff appears earlier every year? First it was just around Thanksgiving. Then it crept to Halloween. I bet next year they'll jump right to the Fourth of July, although I hope they keep the holiday aisles separated by some distance, I just dread the thought of red, white, and blue juxtaposed with the reds and greens of Christmas.

There is a huge part of me that loves Christmas, that is to say the one I remember from my childhood. Christmas began with the long trip from our house in central Ohio to my Grandparents' home in northern Indiana. I knew we were getting close when we crossed the bridge over the Maumee River in Toledo. My Grandparents' cinder block house was built into the side of a hill, and the driveway wound around to the backside of the house. It was surrounded by snowy woods full of hickory and sassafras trees. The lower level, which was entered from the rear, had a finished basement, tool room, and bathroom on the north side and a two car garage on the south side. A carpeted stairway went up the middle.

In the basement was a kitchen, a beautiful field stone fireplace built by my Grandpa, and Grandma's working 1920's player piano, which gratefully now lives with me. Grandma kept Christmas lights strung around the ceiling all year long. This basement was the place of singing and card games and sitting in front of a fire. It was a magical place.

But back to the story. We would all pile out of the car, bags and packages in hand and enter our family home. There, at the top of the stairs, the wooden door would open and Grandma and Grandpa would be waiting with open arms and hugs and kisses. And just behind them, one of the most wonderous things I have ever laid eyes on. The Christmas tree. Their tree was always flocked to create the illusion of snow covered branches, which were then covered with beautiful old-fashioned glass ornaments. And tinsel. Lots of tinsel, which was made of lead! My eyes would immediately dart to that space under the tree, which was usually overflowing with packages. My sisters and I would race to the brightly wrapped boxes, scanning each and every tag for our names. There's one! There's another! Oh the anticipation was overwhelming. What was in the boxes?

Frankenmuth has nothing on Grandma. She loved Christmas and her house transformed into another world. Santas of all sizes appeared in every room, little reindeers and elves, garland and candy dishes. Large plastic candles on the porch. Green and red placemats and runners covered tables and counter tops. Angels took over the bathroom with a herd of reindeer. Wreaths were hung on the walls and door. You couldn't help but catch the fever of the holiday.

The night before Christmas was spent with trying to sleep on the pull-out davenport in their study. The three of us girls would all sleep in that bed, with the door closed. Directly in our line of sight, if the door was open, was the Christmas tree. Can you imagine having to lie in bed for hours staring at a door that blocked your view of the most incredible sight a child could ever see!

But soon, eyes grew weary and before I knew it, morning came. It was still dark of course, but that didn't stop me. I jumped out of the bed, flung the door open and stared wide-eyed at the tree, its colored lights glinting off thin strands of tinsel. The whole tree seemed to glow! And then the realization hit me, Santa had come! I would shout to my sisters "Get up! Get up! Santa came!", and then run to my sleeping parents and grandparents, imploring them to get out of bed and come open presents. The whole thing was just magical, plain and simple.

Those memories are imprinted in my brain. That is what Christmas is to me. And the hell of it is we grow up. Life happens. Parents divorce. Grandparents die. Family moves away. Houses are sold.

But Christmas still comes.

It is a constant reminder of a simpler time. A time of childhood, when magic and wonder ruled. A time when many Elders were still with us, including my Great Grandparents. A time before divorce. This is how my child mind remembers it.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Sometimes I think it is a disservice, a set up if you will, the whole Santa Claus thing. It trains us as kids, imprints on our brains, a very pleasurable tradition that will blow up in our face as soon as we reach the age when we no longer believe in Santa Claus. It is all a trick.

My problem is I still believe.

So is it any wonder Christmas is depressing and confusing? I am still waiting for Santa Claus to come, with Rudolph leading his team of eight flying reindeer. I still yearn to go home to that magical Christmas tree and two loving Grandparents.

How could anything else ever compair?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dear Grandma

Dear Grandma,

Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you today, the seventh anniversary of your passing. Don't worry, I won't cry. At least not too much. I know how you feel about that. "Quit your crying," you would tell me. I can't help it Grandma. I miss you.

I wish you could have seen the fall colors this year. Up here in Michigan we had one of the most beautiful displays I can remember. Now, I know you hated the fall. I don't blame you. Grandpa, your Sister, and your Nephew all died during the season when the hickory trees in your yard were brilliant yellow. That must have been so very hard on you. And then what did you go and do? Die on October 24th! Well, no matter what you say, I think the fall is absolutely beautiful and it was a fitting time for you to go home.

A new friend of mine has given me lots of hickory nuts, and every night when I come home from work I sit and watch some TV and crack nuts for hours. I am watching the Mason jar starting to fill, it is almost halfway there. I remember watching you bent over, clad in your mother's red plaid wool jacket, picking up hickory nuts from your yard. You showed me how to tell the good ones from the bad. I could bet the farm that when I would come home to see you there would be dozens of hickory nuts spread out on your patio table. I loved that about you Grandma. And I made it a part of me. Thank you for that.

I know you would be proud of me working for the State of Michigan. I would love to tell you about all the things I am learning. You were always the one I shared everything with. My hopes and dreams, my heartbreaks and my joys. You were my best friend. I cherish the memory of our talks as we sat in the matching blue Lazy Boy recliners, watching TV and critiquing all the commercials. I remember when you were so sick and I told you I didn't know what I would do without you. You told me I would be just fine. And that you weren't going to die for a long time. Within three months you were gone.

I have tried to go on with my life, Grandma. But it isn't the same without you. There is a hole in my heart that I don't think can ever be filled. Too much changed when you left. There is no home left to go to. The family no longer celebrates holidays together, something we did since the day I was born. There are no more honey-do lists. Or pot roasts made special just for me. I think that hits the nail on the head. No one has ever made me feel as special as you did. Now I feel very alone in the world and not really special to anyone.

So I guess what I want to say to you Grandma on this special day, is thank you for the tender and sometimes tough love you gave to me, for being there when I was at my lowest, and being there when I was at my best. For sharing your stories and laughter and struggles and regrets. For teaching me to be kind and work hard, and to have strong values and and a strong work ethic. Thank you Grandma. I will always hold you close to my heart.

With love,
Your #1 Granddaughter, Barbie

p.s. give Grandpa a hug for me and tell Great Aunt Lana the sassafras tea was good this year.

Out of Sight Out of Mind, or, Dye it All!

I was watching the wonderful but short lived series "Firefly" over the weekend. There were these really horrible monster-like people called Reevers that rode around in menacing space ships spewing dark black ominous smoke from their exhaust.  That smoke was brilliant. Just the visual image of it billowing from the ship as it chased its prey screamed danger and anyone with half a brain would run like hell.

It got me thinking. I used to smoke. Like everyone else, I knew the health risks. I was aware there are over 30 known carcinogenic compounds in one cigarette. And that smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema. But I smoked anyway. Why? Because I couldn't see any danger. I could read about it but it didn't affect my body in any real time, tangible way.

But what if cigarettes billowed black smoke when you lit one? In fact, what if every nasty, toxic chemical in them billowed black smoke? Do you think people might quit smoking? You bet.

So what if everything in our world that was toxic billowed black smoke?

Oh that is scarely, I mean think about it. There are the obvious culprits, such as cigarettes and pesticides and herbicides and car exhaust. And there are the not so obvious, like outgassing from you new car interior or your pretty new carpet. Or the waves from your cell phone that have been linked to cancer. Do you need to crack the window yet?

Wouldn't it be great to dye every harmful substance a digusting rotten flesh green color? Then, when it rained, you could actually see all the pollution in the rain drops. You could watch the ribbon of putrid green flowing down your street, dump into that pretty little river you fish in, and meander all the way to one of the Great Lakes we know and love so well. Imagine the beautiful blue water of Lake Michigan with seaweed-like strands of putrid green flowing through it. Perhaps the whole lake is green by now. Who knows? We can't see it.

No one could possibly ignore the health of our planet if billowing black smoke and rotten flesh green were everywhere.

Could they?

Oh, but then time would pass and people would become desensitized to the grotesque greens and thick black smoke. The ultra conservatives would say the green yuck and billowing smoke were not caused by pollution at all, silly, but was rather a natural, cyclic event. Nothing to worry about. Babies and children would cry. Dogs would cough. Environmentalists would yell. And time would march on. We would invent a new product that, with one quick application, would recolor everything. Ray-Ban would design some groovy new shades that allowed you to see through that nasty smoke and a whole new market would be created! Jobs jobs jobs! Maybe we could create more smoke to increase sales!Apple would release its new iPhone 6 with a built in respirator and life would be good once again.

Green ain't so bad. Smoke is the new black.

I say we dye it all and see what happens.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Commitment, as Defined by a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Wikipedia defines commitment as this:

"Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.. It is also known as a pledge or an undertaking."

Huh. The state or quality of being dedicated. Interesting.

In the good old days, when someone made a commitment it meant something. Remember that saying, "A person is only as good as their Word?" Their Word. Does that mean anything anymore?

We have reduced the English language to abbreviations. LOL. LMFAO. WHRTEL2A (we have reduced the English language to abbreviations). Maybe that is part of the problem. We losing our ability to recognize words.

Maybe it is too many choices. We can't commit, because maybe, just maybe, something better will come along. Who hasn't been put on hold while your phone buddy takes a call from someone else. "I'll be right back," they say. You wait five minutes and hang up. No commitment to even talk on the phone. Something better came along.

How about relationships? My oh my, don't make a commitment, you might actually have to consider someone else for a change. You might have to compromise with another person, or work out some issues. You might have to be responsible for your own actions.

Join a group? What does that mean? I can check out what they are doing on Facebook. Why do I need to actually be a part of the thing? Let someone else do all the work. I just want to consume it.

Repy to an email? What for? I don't have time. Besides, they'll email me back, if not, who cares?

I think the answer to restoring commitment in our society is found in the teachings of the Chocolate Chip Cookie (CCC).

Everyone loves a good cookie. My personal favorite? Chocolate Chip. But the only reason that Chocolate Chip Cookie even exists is because all the crumbs and chocolate chips have made a commitment to each other. They will stick together no matter what. Well, except in the case of when they are dunked into milk, in which case it is every crumb and chip for themselves (they can't swim as a group). Chocolate Chip Cookie is defined soley by the agreement of those crumbs and chips to stick together. And through this agreement comes the most delicious food item to ever cross human lips. Because each part holds up its end of the bargain, the Chocolate Chip Cookie has a glorious, celebrated life.

So whether you are a crumb or a chocolate chip, honor your commitments. Make your life deliciously whole. And in doing so, you will honor the other Cookies in your life. And everyone will live happily ever after.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Mysterious Bird

One morning I awoke slightly before sunrise, which is usual for me. It was summer, the time when robins start singing at 3:55 am. I rolled to the side of my bed, swung my legs over and did my ritual stretch. The dog didn't move, still blissfully snoring away. I glanced at the digital numbers shining red in their dashes, the clock said 5:58. I went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, did other human bathroom things. But something caught my attention. I could hear a bird singing outside and it wasn't a robin. I followed the song which led me back into the bedroom. My window was cracked open and a beautiful melody flowed through the screen and up into my ears. I leaned downed and listened. Who was that?

It is true I am a biologist, but I have never become proficient in the language of birds. I know many of course, and can converse quite fluently with barred and screech owls, sandhill cranes, mourning doves, and chicadees. But this song was totally unfamiliar to me. Maybe it was a migrant gone astray. Maybe it was an escaped pet. I shook my head and went on with my day.

The next morning, I heard this beautiful song again. This time I went out to the backyard to look for the mysterious visitor. It stopped singing. Must be a shy little thing, I thought. I waited and listened. Nothing. Shrugging my shoulders, I went back into the house. Wait, there it is again! I ran into my bedroom, leaned down to where the window was opened and listened. The bird was singing again!

I tried to memorize the call. I counted notes, I counted phrases. I tried to write the melody out. For several days I listened. The bird was only out around 6 am, stopped singing when I went outside to find it, was not native to this area. I was stumped.

I scoured the internet for bird calls. I listened to my recordings of bird calls. I finally spoke with a couple of ornithologists (bird experts) that I worked with about this unusual visitor. They didn't have a clue.

What struck me most about this bird was is punctuality. It always called around six in the morning, which was odd because the sunrise was well underway and most early birds would have been singing for at least an hour by then.

This was driving me crazy. I had never been stumped before on any animal identification.

I remember it was a Thursday. I heard that bird again. It was 6 am. I leaned down over my night stand to the crack in the window to listen. I got closer to the window. The bird seemed to get a bit quieter. Huh? I leaned back a little, the bird got a bit louder. I leaned down a little more and the bird got a bit louder. I leaned down further until my ear was directly over the Tranquil Sounds alarm clock radio sitting on my dresser.

The alarm, which went off at 6 am, was set to Rainforest.

God did I feel stupid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ignorance is Bliss

It all started when I began researching the subject of storm water for my new job. I was astounded and distressed by what I learned. I have been driving now for 40 years and not one time did I ever consider where the rainwater went that landed on the road. Nor did I ever stop to think what was in that water. Never. I was ignorant. Now I know.

Much of the time it ends up in our rivers, streams, and wetlands. It ends up in roadside ditches or makes it way into ponds and lakes. What is in it? Heavy metals, gas and oil, fluids from cars, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), salt and deicing  agents (sometimes deicing agents contain cyanide), suspended solids, get the picture. And where does most of the mercury come from that is found in many fish species today? "About 70 percent of the mercury in the air is the result of emissions from coal combustion, mining, incineration of mercury-containing products and other human sources", according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

What's in the rivers, streams, wetlands, ponds, lakes? Birds, fish, muskrats, beavers, otters, invertebrates like mussels and crustaceans...and people. Do you want to see some eye-opening maps of Michigan's rivers and streams which show impairment due to pollution or E. coli? Click here and download the PDF, look for the maps. Have a box of tissues with you. It is alarming. Or, to really have the state of our waters stare you in the face, open Appendices B1, B2, and B3. Until you know what you're looking at, the tables seem daunting. But the point is to simply note the NUMBER of water bodies that are affected by a host of problems. It is sobering, to say the least. Fortunately there are many people working on cleaning up the waters, but we have a big battle.

I saw a documentary called "Exporting Harm" a couple weeks ago that that showed poor Chinese village folks, including children, recycling mountains of discarded computers and other electronics. A large portion came from, you guessed it, the USA. The people had huge piles of this junk in front of their homes, lining their streets. They took everything apart with no safety precautions, boiled down parts over small open fires. There is much sickness in this village, as you can imagine. The environment is also being devastated.

Last night, I read an article in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Mother Jones called "Killer Apps". It is all about the the refinement process of rare earth metals used in our smart phones. How companies hired locals, paid them good money, to take toxic waste away. Dump the toxic waste wherever they wanted to. Why would the locals do this? Because the companies told them it was fertilizer. So one driver took it to his uncle's farm, offering it to him to spread in his fields. Radioactive waste. Or that it was quick lime, so one painted his house with it. Lies upon lies. Now, this particular village has high rates of leukemia, birth defects, more health issues.

I love driving on a nice new road. I feel good about recycling. I like my iPhone. At least I did.

This is the greatest failure of capitalism. Profit rules, above human health, environmental health, everything. And we as consumers blindly keep right on consuming without asking the first important question - is this latest and greatest thing good for our environment and our health? There is a reason dogs don't poop in their den.

I am a fairly intelligent person, but I don't want to be required to research every little thing to determine its harmful effects on me, the environment, poor people in another far away land. I don't want to have to delve into the scientific literature to see how polluted my rivers and streams are, or whether the particular food item I am eating is a GMO. We can no longer trust much of anything that we buy. Sadly, we have lived in ignorance so long that virtually everything in our lives has a dark side that we really don't want to know about. And who wants to spend endless hours getting more and more depressed by what we learn?

The solution? Rather than trying to figure everything out about the state of the world, I have decided to start from scratch. Live simply. Grow my own heirloom and native varieties of food. Eat organic, locally grown produce from farmers I know. Make as many things as I can myself, or if I have to buy it, strive for all natural materials. No more electronics. When this computer goes, it goes. I buy anything I need from the antique malls and thrift stores. I am reducing electronics and the use of electricity.

It is true, ignorance is bliss. But I am more interested in health. How about you?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Join Now and Receive This Free Gift!

I can't believe I got suckered by AARP. I remember vividly when the junk mail started coming to my mailbox. The moment I turned 49. They sent me something every month, trying to get me to join. I just tossed the envelopes into the recycle bin.  Now, five years later, I opened a mailing. Staring at me from a colorful insert was the coolest insulated bag I had ever seen, with a carabener attached no less! Ok, I was hooked. I would join just to get that awesome free gift. I can always use an insulated bag, and I have a thing for carabeners.

Last week my free gift arrived. I was so excited...but when I opened it I felt vamboozled! By AARP no less! The bag was a mere 6 inches tall, the carabener a humiliating 1 inch long! What the hell!!!!! Nothing like the bag in the picture, with a full sized carabener swinging from its side.

I should have learned when The Nature Conservancy suckered me in with a very sweet looking tote bag over 10 years ago, which never arrived I might add. And I was an employee at the time!

Never again will I join an organization because of the "free gift when you join!" ploy. Well, except for Michigan Public Radio, who always comes through with the best stuff. I am waiting right now for my  French Press Travel Cup....

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Surly Advance of Decrepitude

People used to say I looked young for my age. "What, no way are you 50, you look like your in your 30s!". When I was in my 40s, I looked like I was in my 20s, maybe early 30s on a good day.

Today, I look the age I am. What happened?

I have always feared having the look that some unfortunate souls have, you know the one. The rode hard and put away wet kind of look. You can see their misfortunes in the sadness of their eyes or the wrinkles in their face. There is a difference between that look and the one of someone who has spent most of their life outdoors. That is a different look. Your skin is seasoned by the sun, not chiseled by despair.

Since the last time I looked youthful, life has given me many challenges. Several deep personal losses. People I loved and one I still do, jobs I loved, homes I loved, a dog that I loved. I have been in the Great Depression. Some things were put on me, some were bad choices on my part. All of it was learning.

Today, I feel old. Older than my age. I see the seasoning of the sun AND the chiseled lines of despair in my face now. I look in the mirror. I try to relax every muscle in my face. That helps a bit. But I still look tired. After years of interrupted sleep and pretty constant stress, I AM tired. The aches that come with getting older are just add-ons to the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and arthritis that I have lived with for 30 years.

Even my body is turning into the look of an "old lady". Hell, some of my clothes are part polyester. Oh god, what is happening to me, the backpacker, the rock climber, the all-conference star athlete of Edwardsburg High School???

(Sniff, sniff, blows in hankie).

I will not go down without a fight. I will visualize myself the way I should be, strong, fit, healthy, pain free, even as an Elder. I will celebrate the wrinkles, they are my biography. But the flab! No Sir! I will eat well, I will lose weight. STOP. If I lose weight, think of all the wrinkles that are just waiting to show themselves...I have to think about that one. I will put little sticky notes around my house to tell me to be positive, laugh loudly, love hard. I will starch my work clothes. I will faithfully read my AARP magazine and send in my pledge dollars to Michigan Public Radio, PETA, the Humane Society, and Obama. I will do push-ups every day, however I can, and ride the exercise bike so generously loaned to me by a friend. I will refrain from using blue language at other drivers. And I will sing.

I don't recognize the world so much anymore, and frankly the technological high speed rail train can keep right on a chuggin without me. Facebook is like a piece of candy on the sidewalk, all the ants flock to it, but I am one of the few that don't. I yell, "Hey over here, wanna look at me and speak some real words, maybe visit a real farm or something?" But people are transfixed into the little electronic screens of their "smart phones" and iPads, thumbs flying at the keys like chicken beaks pecking on the ground. Ok. Fine. Note to self, add new sticky note to bathroom mirror. "Celebrate old age isolation!".

But I DO want to recognize myself. If I lose that, well, then I am lost. Wanna have coffee?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What it Means to be Uninsured

For most of my adult life I have been blessed to have health insurance. And I took it for granted. I had no concept of what life is about without it. Until I was unemployed.

When I lost my job, I kept my insurance under the COBRA program. It cost me a substantial percentage of my unemployment. That lasted a little over one year. I then had no health insurance for the next two years.

What was life like without health insurance? For one, I was extra careful. I didn't want to get injured, because it could cost me my house if I racked up even $100 worth of medical bills. So I thought about everything I did. I opted out of cleaning my gutters for fear of falling off the ladder. I dashed my plans to climb Mt. Everest. Ok, just kidding. But you get it.

I prayed I wouldn't get sick. I have had annual bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia for years and I was scared that such an illness would strike. I prayed some more.

I couldn't go to the dentist for my three times a year periodontal cleanings. I prayed that gum disease wouldn't come back.

My glasses broke. A friend told me I could get glasses online for $50. So I sold enough wild foods to pay for a visit to the eye doctor, got a prescription, and ordered new glasses. They broke within a month. Super glue now holds the frame together. I guess you get what you pay for. I think about those folks who can't afford to go to the eye doctor. They don't get to see the stars at night or the leaves on the trees, maybe they can't even read. How can this be?

I prayed that my thyroid issues would stay the same, because I could no longer get my annual blood test, ultrasound, or biopsy. I worried about what might happen should the cysts get larger. Or turn cancerous. What would I do?

At night I limped around my house (and still do), because I have a painful tendinitis in my Achilles tendon. I have had this issue for over a year. It is affecting my ability to walk normally. I could not afford to get help.

Then I was offered a good job with full health insurance benefits. As soon as I could, I got my thyroid tested. I had my feet checked out. Today I saw a podiatrist, who says because the tendinitis was left untreated, I have developed scar tissue that may or may not go away with the proper treatment of physical therapy and inserts.

Ten weeks ago I could not get any help for my health issues because I had no insurance. Five weeks ago I went to a doctor, had blood work, Xrays of both feet, and a visit to the podiatrist for a very small copay. What a difference a month makes.

I am still the same person as I was prior to getting my job. Yet now, I feel, I AM, privileged. What makes me so special as to have health insurance while so many are without?

I watch others I love struggle to meet their monthly private pay health insurance payments, only to deal with prohibitively high deductibles when they need to use it. They choose not to get help for things they are suffering with. They might as well not have any insurance at all.

I have lived on both sides of the fence on this issue. And that experience strengthened my belief that everyone should have equal access to health care. There shouldn't be "haves" and "have nots" when it comes to the health of our bodies and minds. We are all special, sacred human beings. Each and everyone of us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For the Good of All

I like to imagine a world where everyone has enough. Enough food, enough shelter, enough clean water, enough love. Enough joy and happiness, flowers and songs, friendships and fulfillment.

I want to walk through my life with my eyes open. I want to see others. I want my actions to be for the good of all.

How I wish for a world where we all lived that way.