Thelanguageoflight’s Blog
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Sep
07

Pink_Elephant

The herd of pink elephants in the healthcare reform arena is worthy of Ringling Brothers.  One by one they march around in circles while we focus on the symptoms and not the problem.  It’s as effective as putting a Band-aid on a sucking chest wound.

The first elephant in the parade is the inequality of healthcare recipients.  People who reside in the lower castes of our economic system, and rely on support from the government to eat, do not shop at Whole Foods.  Because it’s cheaper and often more filling, they’ve become addicted to Ring Dings, Hot Pockets, and, as my friend Joyce calls it, monkey junk.  Even if with more money for groceries, without a plan for long-term education, the only result will be more profits for the makers of Ring Dings and Hot Pockets.  

Secondly, those in this category are not prone to exercise.  When you’re worrying if there’s enough peanut butter and jelly to make sandwiches for your kids’ lunches, going out for a jog is not at the top of your priority list.  Exercise for the sake of exercise is a foreign concept to many of the cultures that comprise this group and an enormous commitment to education would be necessary to affect change of any kind.

The next elephant is the fact that most people in the country do whatever is necessary to run away from their feelings through all kinds of unhealthy habits – from smoking to drinking to overeating to watching television 40 hours a week.  It’s not the bad habits that lead to poor health.  Poor health comes from the unfelt emotions that create bad habits. 

Gender is the third elephant.  I have friends who practically have to hog tie their husbands or lure them with the promise of wings and beer to get them to the doctor.  Perhaps because women get used to going to the gynecologist at a young age (because we’re primarily responsible for birth control, but that’s another story), we don’t suffer from the anxiety level that many men do.  Regardless, it’s a factor.

Although government management of healthcare is an elephant that hasn’t been completely ignored, the motivation in recognizing it is fear of the cost.  The real issue is because it would be a disaster.  It already is.  Making good choices about Medicare providers requires the tenacity of Lewis and Clark and the mental agility of a world champion chess player. 

Then there’s Medicaid, whose doctors get paid paltry sums for primary care patient visits. I’ve seen figures ranging from $25 to $75, and I’ve been told in Florida, it’s closer to $15.  From personal experience, I can attest that this means that if you’re poor, health care is provided by doctors who need to have 4,000 patients on their rosters to make anywhere near what their colleagues earn.  Or they have lucrative weightloss or “skincare” clinics that allow them to see patients once a week while the other days are staffed by nurse practioners.  Most get burned out and burned up and it takes a very special Medicaid doctor for people to leave the office feeling better.

Leading this silent pack is the reality that the very existence of insurance and pharmaceutical companies is dependent on people being sick.  The fact that insurance companies are reluctant to pay for preventative care has nothing to do with efficacy and everything to do with fear.  What would they do if everyone were healthy?  They have a vested interest in making sure people get and stay ill. 

Instead of trusting that using premium dollars to help people become healthy could create an energy that would be contagious, they bemoan expensive claims and small profits to justify denying coverage, and as an explanation for why a woman who’s undergone a mastectomy gets a mere 23 hours in the hospital.

What’s being bandied about Congress is not healthcare reform.  Reform means calling out the elephants one at a time and dealing with each one before instituting any formal program.  Any healthcare plan implemented without acknowledging and dealing with all of these issues is destined to fail.

The truth is, history will probably repeat itself and the elephants will be ignored.  Some type of plan will be passed by Congress and the president held completely accountable when it fails.  Why?  Because we don’t really want equality.  Who would there be to look down upon?  To “help” because we need affirmation that we’re better off? Besides, we don’t want to be healthy.  We’d rather hold onto our aches and pains and illnesses because we perceive they bond us. What would there be to talk about if we were all well?  Let’s see someone take a bite of that elephant.

Aug
24

joy

My friend Joyce experienced a bout of sciatica last week.  The day I found out, I asked her what she needed and rearranged my day so I could take some supplies and medicine to her.  I called the next morning to see how she was feeling and realized that lately, when I call it’s to check up on her health – not to say hello or see how she’s doing.

As I digested this information, I thought, what kind of message does that send?  I would never want her to think she’s only thought about or valued when she’s not well.  Yet, reaching out mostly on those occasions does have that subtext, whether either of us realizes or not.

Our society, as a whole, pays so much more attention to those who suffer than those who express joy.  I guess we figure that those who are happy don’t need acknowledgement and love as much as those who aren’t.  But what a belief system that sets up.  By valuing suffering we say, “This is how to get the expression of love and comfort I want.” 

From only reaching out to friends or family when we perceive they’re suffering to companies that market or advertise products and services to make you “feel better,” we are a culture invested in feeling bad.  Just watch TV or listen to the radio for an hour.  The abundance of ads for medications designed to make us feel better – Ambien, Prozac, Ablify – and fast food places like McDonalds, who pitch crappy, albeit yummy food, prove we are a population starving to feel better.  And we buy it, so if only for a moment, we can be comforted by the special sauce sliding down our collective throat.

I still value compassion, but what if we asked ourselves, how can we validate joy?  How we can steer a conversation away from suffering and focus instead on ways to find joy and peace in our experiences?

There are so many ways we affirm suffering.  From enrolling in others’ drama to focusing on the negative.  From talking about how “bad” things are to watching the evening news.  We use suffering to bond with each other – author Caroline Myss calls the behavior “woundology” in her book The Anatomy of Spirit.

I want to see all the ways I can affirm joy, growth and faith.  Celebrating with a friend when she has an insight that allows her to change a habit.  Acknowledging a hurdle overcome.  Congratulating someone who has worked hard to stand where she is.  Out of the blue.  Just because.  I think I’ll go call Joyce.

Aug
14

pool

For years, I’ve heard people complain about how much work a pool is, and they’re right – it is a lot of work.  But there’s nothing like diving into the deep end on a hot Florida summer night and staring at the moon while you float on your back.

Algae has been an issue this summer – powdery clouds of yellow that tinge the water green when you brush the floor and walls.  I’ve learned to spot developing algae long before it blooms, my keen eyes able to distinguish even the slightest deviation from blue.

The cure is chlorine.  However, in order for it to work, the water has to be balanced chemically in other areas, like pH.  It’s a process to make algae disappear.  First you need to make sure the water composition is stable enough to hold the chlorine.  Then you have to remove the algae with a brush, clean the filter, add more chemicals, brush again, and clean the filter one more time.  Sometimes it takes several rounds of this process to be rid of it.

It’s taken three days to kill off this last batch of algae.  Process, process, process.  The water is still slightly cloudy, but at least it’s blue again.  One thing I do know is that constantly checking on it and spending energy wondering when it will be crystal clear again does not help the process.

All I need to do is do what I know I need to do and let it go.  Not fret over it.  Not inspect every square inch for signs of a re-occurrence.  Not wonder how long it will take to get back to blue.  It’s simple really.  Right?

I started wondering what else in my life I treat like the pool.  Where am I fretting, inspecting, wondering?  I’m happy to report it’s a short list, but it wasn’t always that way.  I spent years trying to “help” the process.  And you know what I discovered?  The process doesn’t care about me . . . at all.

So now, when something is out of alignment, I take the steps necessary to return to peace and trust that as long as I’ve done what I can do, the process will take care of itself.  I move on to the next thing and let what is be.  Now if I could just figure out how to do that with the pool.

Aug
06

helicopter

Peacefully unconscious in a blissful sleep, I was yanked violently awake by the sound of helicopters circling overhead.  It seemed as if they would descend through the roof at any moment – engines gunning, blades whirling.  Exhausted, I tried to ignore them but found it impossible.  It was 3:15 am by the time I heard them move on to the next quadrant of their search.  And by then, the irrationality that is born from being startled awake had blossomed into a Venus Flytrap.

I knew they were police helicopters and I lay in bed, fighting to get back to sleep.  Who are they looking for?  What had he done?  What if he’s hiding in my back yard? These questions bounced off the insides of my brain like popping corn, leaving tiny little marks from their hot centers that eventually melted together and created a panic.  I got out of bed and paced, peeking out the windows and searching the blackness outside for shadows.

Settled in again, I experienced several rounds of breathing deeply, drifting off, hearing an unfamiliar noise, and finding myself wide awake again.  This went on until about 4 when, unable to fight the physical exhaustion any longer, I finally fell asleep.

When I woke up, I felt like I’d been in a fight.  I called two neighbors, neither of whom had even heard the helicopters.  Then I contacted the police to find out what had happened.  It turns out it was a perfect storm of man-hunting – three different helicopters, all searching within a mile of my house for three different suspects.  The woman at the police aviation center was very nice and suggested I consider buying protection.

The entire morning, I operated in reverse.  I wasn’t going fast enough to be in slow motion.  As I prepared to leave for a meeting, the gray skies opened up making the roads slick and slowing traffic.  While driving in this foggy state – both inside my head and outside in the world – I had a moment of utter clarity.  Is this how it feels to live in Afghanistan or Jerusalem or Palestine?

If my one single night of sleep interrupted by helicopters overhead for a mere 45 minutes could create such a disconcerting state of mind, what must it be like to hear bombs exploding, machine guns firing, and tanks rolling every night?  More importantly, where do you have to go within yourself to get used to it so that you can actually give your body some of the rest it requires to function?

Every experience is relative.  And I won’t mitigate the impact that being woken out of a sound sleep by police searching for suspected criminals had on my mental and physical states.  However, I realize in a different way just how fortunate I am to live in a place where it is a once in a blue moon occurrence instead of something I must find a way to make normal.

Jul
29

love-hate

For months now, I have received comments on this blog that I have chosen not to post.  Many might perceive them as mean and hateful, but each one of them has provided the opportunity to surrender another layer of lies I’d told myself about who I was.  The “buttons” they pushed were brought into the light where I was able to acknowledge they were illusions.  Today I approved each and every one of those comments, which are now available for public consumption by clicking on the “comment” link underneath the blog titles.  Why?  Because they don’t mean anything.  And I now understand that at a level I’ve never known before.  So here’s some love for the “haters” – you help me to know mySelf.

Jul
29

Cecily-Brown-Night-Passage

I have need of everything . . .

I have need of the joy and the sadness

The laughter and the tears

The chaos and the peace.

I have need of the darkness and the light,

The abundance and the lack

The trust and the fear.

I have need of the success and the failures,

The excitement and the disappointment,

The elation and the devastation.

I have need of the judgment and the allowing,

The old and the new,

The ups and the downs.

I have need of the trust and the doubt,

The unity and the loneliness,

The confidence and the insecurity.

I have need of the knowing and the doubt,

The questions and the answers,

The love and the evil.

I have need of the gratitude and anger,

The control and the unfolding,

The creating and the giving way.

I have need for it all.

For how else do I choose?

How else would I use

Your most precious gift –

Free Will?

Jul
22

Labryinth

When I was 23, my father helped me buy my first car.  I was so excited about my new job as an advertising assistant for an international HR company.  Unfortunately, it was located 20 miles from my apartment and the bus was an hour and a half each way.  Doing 60 on the highway with the music blaring was much more appealing.

As we perused the shiny new cars on the showroom floor, I fell in love with a 1986 ice blue Plymouth Turismo.  We took it for a test drive, and the five on the floor handled the curves like glue.  It had great pick-up.  But there was one small issue.  It had no air conditioning.

My father encouraged me to wait until they could find me one with air, but the thought of three hours a day on a bus stimulated my need for immediate gratification and I chose to ignore his sage advice.  I lived in Pittsburgh . . . I could handle the summers without air.  No problem.

I lasted eighteen months at the job.  My boss lied to me and I felt taken advantage of and unappreciated.  Without the vocabulary to communicate that, I developed an attitude that got me fired.  Six months later, I moved to West Palm Beach.

October was fine.  I cruised through the winter.  But come May, the humidity and lack of cool air left me looking like a damp rag doll by the time I arrived at the office.  I was desperate for a vehicle with air conditioning and the salesman saw me coming with a big neon sign tattooed on my forehead.

They let me drive the car I liked off the showroom floor and take it home for the evening – just to be sure.  The next day, I signed a 60-month lease.  It was the only way I could afford it on my salary and it was the only car I’d found that had everything I thought I needed.  Two years later, I moved to New York City where I had to choose between rent and a parking space.  The loan was completely upside down and although it wasn’t my finest moment, I parked it in the bank’s parking lot and gave them the keys before catching my flight to Newark.

Often we feel so sure of the outcome.  We’re certain of how things will go.  We just “know” how a situation is going to unfold.  Then when it doesn’t, ego arrives with its tools of torture, anxious to beat us up for not making better choices.

The truth is you don’t ever know.  All you can do is make the best choice you can in the moment.  Perhaps in retrospect it’s not the best decision you’d have wanted to make, but if it was the best you could do at the time, asking any more of yourself is absurd.

Jun
30

IMG_0142

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I posted.  Sometimes life re-sorts our priorities and the best any of us can do is make decisions about what’s important in that moment and then let it go.  With family in town, family in the hospital, business growing, friends I want to spend time with, fun that needs to be had, and interesting interactions with insurance adjusters, engineering firms and various government agencies, I’ve received a lot of gifts and learned a lot of lessons over the last few weeks.  Perhaps some will resonate with you.

1.  Secrets kill – your spirit, your body, your mind.  Tell someone a secret and enjoy the freedom.

2.  Loving someone doesn’t mean you trust them.  Being able to separate love and trust ensures sanity.

3.  When someone who once knew you says vicious things and it doesn’t touch you, it is cause for celebration.

4.  As my friend Joyce says, “If you can beat me rockin’, you can have my chair.”  Own where you stand – you’ve done the work to be there.

5.  Sometimes, you move like Uncle Joe – at the junction, Petticoat Junction – and that’s OK.  Much more gets accomplished by accepting the moment exactly as it is than ever gets done beating yourself up.

6.  Always write things down – you think you’ll remember . . . you probably won’t.

7.  Under the most dire of circumstances, there is not ever a need to be mean, malicious, or hateful.

8.  The peace is always beneath the chaos if you’re willing to see it.

9.  Not taking care of yourself is the quickest way to anger, resentment, blame, confusion, doubt, and fear.  Finding a way to nurture yourself is the quickest way to find calm, peace, joy, and centeredness.

10.  There’s nothing like a trip to the beach to remember what matters.

May
19

crap cartoon

When did America become a society of dung beetles?  We swallow so much crap on a daily basis and I’m trying to understand why.  Is it because we’ve created such a non-stop world for ourselves that if breathing weren’t an autonomic bodily function, we’d die because we didn’t have time to inhale?  Or is it because we believe that it takes too much energy to “fight city hall” and have determined that swallowing crap is just easier?

Here are some of the things I’m tired of swallowing:

1.  The ridiculous, time-consuming Captcha Project that has become a royal thorn in my butt at Yahoo and other sites.  Seriously.  I’m an intelligent woman.  So why do I get the character strings wrong on average of 50% and then have to squint to see the new one, JUST so I can send a freaking e-mail.  You’re telling me with all the technology available that they can’t figure out how to better identify spam other than making sure it’s not me?

2.  Food companies that think they can keep the price of their products the same when they’ve shrunk them to a size that wouldn’t feed a family of Thumbelinas.  A woman behind me on line at CVS the other night had two cartons of Edy’s Ice cream, whose former half-gallon containers have been reduced to little more than a pint – but still cost over $5.  As we stared at her cookie dough ice cream, dwarfed by the mints and magazines on the counter, she swore she was going to call them to complain. I hope she starts a campaign.

3.  Greedy inconsiderate companies that spam me with faxes about aluminum siding and health insurance, and then have no contact information on their propaganda other than another FAX number.  Makes me want to scream – especially when I forget to unplug the fax machine at night and their robot-dialers call me at 3 a.m.

4.  The brilliant tech geeks who sit around in their underwear dreaming up viruses and ways to hack into my computer because they’re too lazy and apathetic to use their powers for good.  Yeah, that’s the way to “get” the man.  If you want to be a rebel, there are better ways than to punish those who are not a part of your Roswell conspiracy theories.  If you want to really put your talents to use, see #1.

5.  The fact that good service – whether at a restaurant, shop, or God forbid on the phone with someone – is something for which I’m grateful.  Come on!  It should be expected, not praise worthy.  We have gotten so complacent with companies like Verizon, who has to have the worst customer service ever, that when someone offers us service that’s mildly above mediocre, we’re singing their praises as if they’ve given us a piggyback ride through a minefield while belting “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” in tune.

Maybe we’ve gotten lazy.  Maybe we just don’t care anymore.  But as the words to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” echo in my mind, I hope we find a way to change.  Because the road raging, alcohol guzzling, Big Mac binging group of people we’re becoming because of the all the crap we swallow every day will eventually cause us to implode over something completely insignificant like Starbucks forgetting the second spoonful of sugar in our morning coffee.

May
13

350_project

I love shopping on the Internet as much as the next person.  But it doesn’t benefit the local economy at all.  The truth is, I have always supported local businesses – never considering myself a “Hardrock Cafe” kind of gal.  I’d much rather go off the beaten path and find places in my neighborhood and town that offer unique and quality products or services.

Cinda Baxter, a confessed “retail enabler” has created a grassroots effort called The 3/50 Project.  The premise is simple:  Pick 3 local businesses you can’t live without and commit to spending $50 per month at them.  That’s it.  In toto.  $50.

I can make that commitment.  Especially knowing that a large portion of what I spend will return to the local economy through payroll, taxes and other expenditures.  Actually, I have more than 3 local businesses I love here in Tampa.  Check out my list and make your own.  And visit the 3/50 Project

Sherry’s Yesterdaze (you and your house can be stylish and snazzy with all the cool retro stuff at this store)

The Street Market (incredible gifts made from all natural and recycled materials-Osborne & Florida)

Cappy’s Pizza (once you have it, no other pizza is relevant – Seminole Heights)

Inkwood Books (the last independent bookstore in Tampa)

Fuji Sushi (ask for the Megan Super Crunchy roll – Dale Mabry & Henderson)

Wright’s Deli (if you don’t know about this treasure on Dale Mabry south of Henderson, now’s the time)

Muse Hair Group (killer hair services-Armenia just north of Kennedy)

Rollin’ Oats Health Food (one of the oldest health food stores in Tampa on MacDill & Cypress)

Cafe Hey (great soy milk lattes – Franklin & 275)

Bo’s Ice Cream (yeah, twirl that soft serve and dip it in butterscotch – Florida north of Sligh)

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