Just Monday.

Happy Monday!

 

How is everyone out there?

 

As I’m writing this, Hurricane Harvey hasn’t hit, but we’re waiting prayerfully, some fearfully, with the countdown now in minutes rather than days or hours. And of course, Harvey isn’t the only concern we face.

I am praying that you all are safe and well.

 

I chose today’s song, not because it’s uplifting, not because the video is inspiring, not because it’s even a favourite, but just because it’s pretty.

I’ve never heard the studio version; I’ve no idea if it’s a particularly good, or popular, song.

But this version is just lovely, and it’s peaceful.

And that just felt right for today.

 

 

 

Be safe, Be well. 

What is it with Americans and Universal Health Care?

What is it with Americans and universal health care???

This is one of the many things I simply will never understand about my society.

The United States spends vastly more money on health care than any country in the world, yet we rank far behind the rest of the developed world in the quality of our health.

Umm ?????

 

If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, a handful of DEVELOPING (read: THIRD WORLD) countries rank above us for goodness sake!

I’m horrified that we spend so much money on health and get so little for it. Medical costs just should not be the most common reason people go bankrupt in a country this rich.

Now, yeah, when I was a kid I heard all the ‘death panels’ and ‘lines out the door and around the corner’ horror stories that get told about healthcare in other countries.

And I believed them. BECAUSE I WAS A CHILD. 

It didn’t take very long though, to begin to realise that one never saw these lines when passing health centres in other countries. And one DID see elderly people – lots of them; so, what is the ‘miss’ rate on those death panels?

Eventually I noted that I had never had a single acquaintance whose Grandma had been death-panelled off by their government. And interestingly, in Ireland, my friends’ Grandmas were getting some splendid benefits that made their older years far more rich. Hmmm….

Then for about 10 years I worked with people from all over the world. Being naturally nosy, and fairly low on social graces, I polled them mercilessly about their socialised medical systems.

I had a Canadian colleague in one of my jobs who lived and worked here, but tried to fit in all of his medical appointments when he went home to visit his family, because the care was better and the expense much lower.

The worst rating that I’ve ever gotten from colleagues in Canada, the UK, across Europe, anywhere with universal healthcare, is that their system was roughly comparable to mine for appointment times and better for treatment.

The most common ratings I’ve gotten still leave me slightly in awe.

So, I’m definitely all soap-boxy about this issue because it irks me to pay a lot of money for poor quality.

BUT THEN!

The truth of the matter is, my interest in universal healthcare goes FAR beyond the cost-benefit-analysis (because let’s face it, an accountant, I will never be!).

The thing that really surprises me in this whole ‘we don’t want universal healthcare’ mindset is that universal healthcare supports freedom.

THAT is the bit I’m mostly interested in!

  • How many parents have wanted to stay home with their kids but couldn’t afford to give up the job that had the healthcare benefits?
  • How many people with a passion to start a business don’t do it for the same reason?
  • How many people could afford to work part time and devote more hours to something they really want to do if affordable insurance wasn’t bound to certain jobs with certain numbers of hours?
  • How many people have wanted to change jobs, but had a sick child, or breast cancer, and couldn’t risk losing the coverage?

This came home to me very clearly when I was in grad school.

I had a classmate who had some awful disease that really required several months of treatment, surgery, and bedrest to hope to beat it, but she was still taking the required number of hours each semester to keep up her student status.

She was completely unable to manage her workload, and totally stressed out (which can’t have been improving her chances to beat the illness), but she kept trying to do it because there was no other option. Why? Because her medical insurance was through school and she would have been left to die if she stopped going to school.

Her illness made my life a great deal harder, because she couldn’t be relied on in any group project, but can you imagine what HER life was like?

So yeah, I’m a big fan of freedom, and I’m big on opportunities, and honestly, I’m pretty big these days on people not having to literally sacrifice their lives to keep an insurance policy over their heads. I’m a HUGE fan of quality care for reasonable costs.

It has also occurred to me that lots and lots of small businesses create far more jobs, and more stable economies, than one or two giant corporations owning everything, and that as long as people are bound by the need for health insurance we will remain limited.

“But KAT!!” someone says, “We can’t trust the government!”

No indeed. But we can CHANGE the government. Which is a lot more than we can do with the shareholders or CEOs of insurance companies (unless we happen to be filthy rich).

I know which scenario I have more confidence in.

 

 

Be well. 

Monday Rebellion

It’s Monday. Defy the norm!

Pixabay image of pink rain boots and umbrella

Think a little better of someone than your first impression requires.

Take joy in an unexpected delay!

ACTUALLY stop to smell the roses.

You could even wish someone a Happy Monday!

 

Be well. 

Why is that? Agreeing to Disagree

 

I’ve been going back and forth this week between this post, and a lighter, more fun one.

Goodness knows we need more light right now!

But it’s been a bad couple weeks in my country, and it’s a struggle acknowledging that without being depressing!

I decided the only honest response was to not divide them up, but to deal with the pain, and the good, together. Kinda like life.

 

So … I get it that the anger, the violence, come because we are threatened by those we don’t agree with. But…

WHY IS THAT?

Why are we so threatened by people who don’t agree with our beliefs or are not like us? (The ones not trying to kill us, I mean.)

Why do we have to fight them, and make efforts to undermine them?

Now, I’m not talking about sharing our thoughts, or teaching our kids, or even debating issues. I’m talking about condemning, hating, even sabotaging other’s efforts, because they differ from us.

Why does it matter so much to us?

Because, really, if I know I’m right, then my most logical ‘action’ is to wait for them to learn for themselves that their method or practice or belief doesn’t work, you know? Why can’t we simply speak our piece and let it be?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I realise that a lot of people simply use racism, religion, political views, or whatever, as a cover for their own wickedness.

I do not believe that every ‘pro-life’ American believes it’s okay for them to kill doctors who work at abortion clinics, or to terrorise desperate women. I don’t think every white supremacist marching in Charlottesville this past week would have been willing to drive a car into a crowd of living, breathing, human beings.

But we almost all become entrenched in pushing our own views sometimes.

And I’d say most of us, at one point or another, value defending our belief more than we value the person we disagree with. (Or, for Christians – more than we love the image bearer of Christ who stands before us.)

I’m not sure why.

Do we fear that they don’t love or respect us?

Are our own beliefs too fragile?

Are we hurt, or frightened, by the thought that not everyone thinks we are right?

Do we fear they are right?

Is it just the fear of not having control?

Since we sometimes violate our own beliefs in trying to defend them, this can’t be just a simple matter of disagreeing!

Hating, judging, perhaps even killing others because they don’t measure up to our Christian beliefs is a darn good example, if we define ‘Christian’ as a disciple of the same Christ who said

Don’t condemn other people, that’s not your job.

Love your enemies, ask God to bless them.

The most despicable person you can think of is who I meant when I said ‘Neighbour’.

Whose word says the world will respect you when you live peacefully and quietly, tending to your own business.

I imagine it’s more than one reason. I imagine I’ll never understand it completely. Maybe not even in myself, let alone in all of us.

So then, how do we change?

How do we become more than we are right now?

How do we avoid having to return to this place in history again and again?

One way, alas,  is by thinking through these difficult, depressing things. And one way is by understanding history, AND paying close attention to the world today.

Another way, I realised, is to follow the advice of my main man Fred Rogers. Well, the advice of his mother actually,

Look for the helpers.

 

So I did.

And there were helpers – both real, live people, and also spots of hope and encouragement.

FIRST:

I was shocked, but deeply impressed, by this PSA that my own government created a generation ago.

Next,

I read an article about a black man, Daryl Davis, who spends his free time befriending white supremacists. Not protesting against them. Not threatening them. Not beating them up or running them out of town.

Not even legislating against them!

 

He befriends them.

Talks with them over dinner.

Shares his thoughts and listens with concern to their thoughts.

Mr. Davis is making a difference.

 

And that, too, reminded me that hope is stronger than darkness, that despair isn’t the right response – ever.

Then,

I read another article about a group of folks who have set up a resource to take the pressure of explaining why racism is a problem OFF of people who are feeling overwhelmed by that pressure.

Such a simple, powerful service, but I never thought of it!

Again with the hope! Maybe my species is redeemable after all?

Go humanity!

Finally,

I saw this quote in a document I was reading for work, completely unrelated to current crises, and it made me smile (that alone was a major feat last week!):

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”¹

 

CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT!

Any time  I’ve been in bed with a mosquito – even when I’ve had a fully functional bed net –  there is no doubt that all 1000th of an ounce or whatever it is of her made a HUGE difference in my entire night’s rest!

So, it gave me another shot of hope, and reminded me that it’s not all darkness out there, and we can rebuild from here. (Definitely the most I’ve ever gotten out of any reference to mosquitos.)

All of this, plus a good deal of prayer, managed to bring me out of the doldrums at least! I hope it’s encouraging for someone else as well.

 

I pray that the coming week will be better than these last few … for all of us.

Let’s all stick together out there.

 

 

Be well. 

 

 

¹ Attributed to Anita Roddick; haven’t checked it myself, but I could certainly believe it. God rest her soul.

Monday: Deep Breaths

Happy Monday!

How is everyone?!?

 

I’m well enough, though if you read Friday’s post, you know I’m having some new adventures!

I had no idea when I chose last Monday’s reminder how much I’d be needing THAT reassurance before the week was out. 😀

So, in a week that promises to be busy, busy, busy, and perhaps utterly terrifying the start of an exciting new challenge, I’m thinkin’ RED  is the perfect Monday soundtrack:

 

 

Be well. 

Truth and Dare

Do you ever feel inferior?

I imagine some of you looking perplexed: “No, of course not, what’s she on about?”

While others nod, “Every moment of every day; thanks for bringing up a painful topic.”

And perhaps some of you are like me. I tend to think pretty well of myself, and I know there are areas where I’m very, very good, areas where I’m average, and areas where just about anyone has me beat (just about anything dealing with numbers falls here).

I’ve always been more of the jack-of-all-trades type than The Expert.

I WANTED to find some topic to delve into until I was the Supreme Master of it, but there were so many interesting topics in life! That 10,000 hours on just one was beyond me.

Then, in my last job, I was the squarest of square pegs in a long line of round holes. We’re talking fundamental, DNA-level squareness. I was as different from 90% of my colleagues as it is possible to be!

This had its advantages. I was really good at a few necessary tasks that they almost universally feared and hated, so that worked out well for all of us.

However, I spent a lot of time struggling to even speak the same language as these lovely people, because we just lived in completely different worlds. Our brains simply worked differently.

Some of my super-numerical, or extraordinarily technical colleagues inspire me to awe!

And though I’m never down on myself about it, I’ve always sort of felt young and new in comparison with those who have a clear, specific niche. So, I tend to think of all of these awe-inspiring former colleagues as vastly more sophisticated than I am. More experienced, more … grown up.

One of the interesting things about having been laid off from a company that has laid off hundreds of people in the last couple of years is that I have a sort of peer group of former colleagues in similar positions to mine.

Many of us went on to other ‘regular jobs’, of course, but I’m not the only one who decided to try to get off that merry-go-round and go into business for myself.

So, I had an interesting experience this week.

One of these Awe Inspiring Colleagues, a person that I admire to excess – you know the type: one of those frighteningly competent folks that you wonder how they manage it all – got in touch with me because he’d been offered a job that he’s not going to be able to fit into his schedule and he wondered if it might be something I would want to do.

And it is!

 

Oh my goodness, it is!

But as with most Adventures it has some drawbacks too. There are a lot of things I have to think about in deciding whether to take this opportunity.

And it has been very interesting walking through this with my Awe Inspiring Colleague.

One of my mental health practices is to never oversell myself. All that does is land me deep into very stressful situations where I must frantically tread water trying to survive – not the emotional state I’m seeking in life.

So I was very clear with Awe Inspiring Colleague about what I was able to do and what I’m not.

I REALLY felt like a little kid talking to the CEO or university president! But I gritted my teeth and did it.

I ended one of our conversations with a statement that I was completely intimidated but game to try it. And Awe Inspiring Colleague’s response was “You know, it’s kind of new and scary for me too.”

Huh. Who’d have guessed??

Maybe it’s not just that I’m a jack-of-all-trades! Maybe there’s new and scary out there somewhere for everyone!

We’re still working through whether or not either of us have the capacity to handle this job right now, and that’s cool.

I kind of hope that we do, but even if we don’t I will have gained a great deal in just processing through all of this with the Awe Inspiring Colleague.

I suppose this is also a good opportunity to revisit my New Life Resolutions.

 

What have we got here? 

Focus FIRST on getting more of the kind of work that I really want to keep doing.

  • Check! This is a good fit with my life goals, and could potentially lead to even more opportunities.

Expect hope instead of horror with this next move.

  • Uhoh! Here is where the rubber meets the road! Although this New Life Resolution originally applied to my move from California, in order to accept this work opportunity I definitely have to stick to this ‘hope instead of horror’ faith walk! (Deep breaths.)

GAIN health in the coming transitions.

  • Check. No real conflict. It does involve some dreaded time on airplanes, but one can work around that – AND one can be cognisant of this resolution throughout the process!

Shape my life so that one year from today my own life is more abundant and I’m more of a catalyst for others’ abundance too.

  • Hmmm… you know, this has some interesting possibilities! While this resolution is not the main focus, there’s no specific conflict, and of course the more I manage to achieve the first three resolutions the most chance I have with  this one. 
  • If I can do this well, I may improve a tiny piece of the lives of those I’ll work with.
  • And I wonder if just having the courage to try might not be among the most valuable preparations for both a more abundant life and being a stronger catalyst!

Good enough!

 

 

Be well.

Monday reminder

Spoiler: The answer is yes.

 

Always. 

 

 

Happy Monday!

Be well. 

Slow Living: Baby Steps

 Pixabay image of snail on a camera lens housing

I opened the blinds this weekend and the most gorgeous butterfly (or moth?) I have ever seen was perched on my window frame.

It was clearly designed to look like dried leaves, and I know that sounds drab, but let me tell you, this thing was exquisite. I’ve never seen a stained glass window or painting this intricate and amazing. The Mighty Monarch doesn’t hold a candle to whatever this anonymous beauty was.

And my first thought was to scurry off and get my tablet to try to take a picture of it.

Fortunately, before I got too far scurried, two thoughts collided in my head:

First, I remembered that I’m trying to be more intentional about savouring moments of beauty rather than missing big chunks of them in my efforts to hold onto them.

Second, I remembered the myriad pictures of the fawns out in the yard, or other beautiful things I’ve tried to take through these (roughly second story) windows, and I thought “You know the picture’s not going to do this justice; you could just stay here and enjoy the beauty instead of running around the house looking for a camera.”

So that’s what I did.

 

And thank God, because in just seconds, the butterfly decided that my window screen wasn’t comfortable, or remembered an appointment, or whatever it is that prompts art to meander on its way.

I could have missed most of this tiny miracle while searching for my tablet, or taking countless frustratingly bad photos.

Obviously this is an itty-bitty-baby-step in the grand scheme of living a slower, more present, more abundant life, but it’s a step, so I wanted to celebrate it.

I wish you a small, beautiful moment of awe this week!

Be well.