Monday, August 31, 2009

Vacationing


Here I sit, on the side of the pool at the Embassy Suites Dorado Beach & Golf Club in Puerto Rico. The temperature is about 80 degrees, there’s a light breeze blowing off the Atlantic Ocean, there are a few children playing in the distance and I can hear the coqui singing in the trees. There’s a lizard on the wall over by the canopy. He is croaking as he hangs on with his toes to the cement. The pelicans fly overhead as they make their way to the lagoon to fish for their supper. The sun has fallen behind the western fa├žade of the hotel bringing shade to the parched ground. There has been rain during the last week but it is brief and although it soaks the ground, it disappears into the dust and foliage as soon as it arrives. The thirsty plants slurp the moisture from the spongy earth.


This has been a relaxing week filled with delicious foods… we’ve eaten mofongo and frittatas, drank our fill of mojitos and gin, and hiked in the rain forest until our brows dripped with perspiration.


Vacation… to vacate… to empty one’s spirit of the everyday stresses of life, to rejuvenate and become whole once again. This was our goal and we have met it with enthusiasm.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An Inside Job

When we begin our journey into recovery our lives may have become very small as a result of the dysfunction within which we live. In order to please others we may have given up much of our interests, hobbies, friends or acquaintances. Some of us may have given up careers to raise a family or to be a homemaker. With all we have relinquished we may come to the table empty, feeling as though we are a vessel from which all has been poured.

Sooner or later each of us comes to a point in our lives when we finally discover that happiness is an inside job. We realize that no one can make us happy except ourselves. If we have spent many years attending to the needs and happiness of others, we may suddenly discover we feel vacuous. Developing ourself is our responsibility. Finding hobbies we enjoy and friends to fill our life are good beginnings. We would err to expect our partner or family to be our all. We need friends and personal growth to complete us as individuals. Our partner can certainly be our best friend, but not our only friend.

We think of ourselves like a gear with teeth sticking out in all directions. Each tooth represents one aspect of our life. One tooth may be our partner, one our children, one our extended family, one our friendships, one our career, one tooth for each of our hobbies, one for our love of the theatre, and so on. In this way the gear is representative of a fulfilling life. It is our mission in life to fill each tooth with something of meaning to us, thereby adding value to our lives. If we are diligent we will have a life filled with joy and meaning as accomplished by our own hand. What more could we ask for?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let's Lose the Insurance Companies

Recent events in the news have sparked a great deal of discussion about health care reform. Listening to those in Congress and the White House as they attend town hall meetings, and the overall lack of thoughtful response from the public at those meetings has left me concerned. There seems to be a lack of understanding on the part of some of our citizens as to the situation we face as a nation regarding our health care system and it's costs. In its present form, our health care system is unsustainable. As a nation, we can no longer afford the system we have in place today. If we do nothing, or the wrong thing, we as a nation may bankrupt ourselves.

I am at a loss as to the morass of confusion regarding our need for reform of the health care system in America. In June of 2008 Reuters News printed an article on health care in the US after surveying medical professionals. Here is a relevant part of their story: "While Canada, virtually all of Europe, Japan, and South Korea have adopted publicly-sponsored and regulated healthcare, the United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that has not implemented comprehensive coverage. Universal healthcare is defined as medical coverage extended to all citizens, and sometimes permanent legal residents, of a state or a country. With healthcare costs today representing 16% of U.S. GDP (four times the Defense budget), and projected to reach 19.5% within ten years, universal healthcare coverage has become an increasingly hot topic in the political arena."


Our health care system ranks 37th in the world, yet we rank 2nd in amount spent as a percentage of GDP... which means we spend a great deal more to get a great deal less. We rank 24th in life expectancy, behind all the countries we criticize as having socialized medicine. We rank 72nd in overall health level of performance, but number 1 in costs per capita... meaning we pay the most for the health care we get and only rank number 72. This is all out of a field of 191 member countries. (data compiled by the World Health Organization)

No system is perfect and all have their problems. We have been trying to fix our health care system for the past 60 years without results. It is time we allowed the people in one of the richest countries on earth the ability to access health care at every level of society. I am tired of pretending that we don't pay for the lack of health care for those who have no coverage. They DO have coverage and we as a society pay for it. It's called medicaid and it pays for all those emergency room visits for people who have no health insurance and no funds whenever they get sick or injured. It pays for people on welfare to have medical care. It pays for mothers and children to have medical coverage when they qualify with low income. It pays for seniors who are sick and have no funds to get in home assistance. It pays for those who are permanently disabled and wards of the state to live in group homes or nursing facilities.

Additionally, 70% of today's bankruptcies occur as a result of catastrophic medical costs, even with folks who do have medical insurance. That is paid by us, the public, in the form of costs passed on to us, the consumer.

It would be less costly to us as a nation to make provisions for all than to pay for it through these back door methods while insurance companies pay enormous salaries to their CEO's (in excess of $11 million last year to United Health Care's CEO) and make a profit at our expense. There is a reason that we get our water and sewer service from the DEP and it's not because the private sector can do it better. It's because it is the government's role to make sure that the public water supply is clean and safe, not private industry. If you need an example, look at the scams involving bottled water and all the failures in that sector.

The insurance industry adds nothing to the equation. They do not increase the quality of health care. They do not make our seniors healthier, nurses and doctors do that. They don't care for young children and mothers who are on medicaid, nurses and doctors do that. They don't show up at the emergency rooms cleaning wounds and taking temperatures, nurses and doctors do that. We would be best served to take the insurance industry out of the equation and allow doctors and nurses to do their jobs without interference from insurance companies telling them what tests are needed and how much they should charge.

How about doctors and nurses get a salary for their position based on their performance and skills, like lots of other professionals. That would be fair and balanced. Think of all the money that the insurance industry absorbs that could go toward paying medical professionals decent salaries. In some countries that have adopted some form of universal health care medical professionals get paid bonuses according to how healthy their patients become over time. That encourages doctors and nurses to do a great job! What a wonderful idea!! People who want to do research would still have plenty of places to do so. The country is poised for real change. How about it!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How Controlling Am I?

So many times we find excellent material for our growth in the work of others. Here is a piece that gives us a sense of where we fall as regards our recovery journey. Take the quiz thinking of feelings and attitudes today, then think back to past feelings prior to beginning recovery work and notice the difference. Becoming aware of our growth and allowing ourselves to enjoy how far we have come is a vital part of recovery. We may find areas requiring more work. That's healthy self awareness giving us the focus we need to continue on our journey.

This quiz and commentary was adapted from Deepak Chopra MD's book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.

How much resistance are you in now? Our psychological defenses are extremely good at hiding this from us; by definition, stored-up emotions are the ones we can’t feel. However, resistance gives rise to a telltale behavior pattern—control. Having to be in control is a compulsion rooted in fear and threat.

Give yourself a point for each statement that applies to you frequently, most of the time, or almost always. Some of the statements do not sound very flattering, but try to be as candid and honest about yourself as you can.

1. I like to be in control of work situations and am much happier working alone than with others.

2. When I’m under pressure, the easiest emotion for me to show is anger or irritability.

3. I rarely tell anyone that I need them.

4. I tend to harbor old hurts. Rather than telling someone that he hurt me, I would rather fantasize about getting even.

5. I have quite a few resentments about the way my brothers and sisters relate to me.

6. The more money I spend on someone, the more that means I love them.

7. I keep to myself how unfairly others treat me.

8. If a relationship starts to go bad, I secretly wish I could take back everything I bought for that person.

9. If it’s my house, the people in it should follow my rules.

10. I find it hard to admit being vulnerable. I don’t often say “I’m wrong” and mean it.

11. It’s better to nurse my wounds than to show someone that I’m weak.

12. I’m a better talker than listener.

13. What I have to say is usually important.

14. I secretly think others don’t take my opinions as seriously as they should.

15. I have a pretty good sense of what’s good for people.

16. At least once in my life I got caught opening someone else’s mail.

17. People have called me cynical or negative.

18. I have high standards, which others sometimes mistake for criticism.

19. I tend to be a perfectionist. It bothers me to let a sloppy job go out.

20. I feel uncomfortable if someone gets too close to me emotionally.

21. After a relationship breaks up, I look back and think I was mostly right.

22. I’m neat and orderly. I like my way of doing things and find it hard to live with someone who is sloppy.

23. I’m good at scheduling my day and put a high value on punctuality.

24. I’m good at caring for other people’s needs, but then I get disappointed when they don’t think as much about mine.

25. I have a logical explanation for the way I act, even if others can’t always accept it.

26. I don’t care that much if other people don’t like me.

27. In my opinion, most people don’t usually express their true motives for the way they behave.

28. I’m not good at handling noisy or rambunctious children.

29. I still blame my parents
for a lot of my problems, but I haven’t told them so.

30. When I get into an argument with my spouse or lover, I can’t resist bringing up old grievances.

0-10 points

Your personality isn’t dominated by an excessive need to be in control. You are likely to be comfortable with your feelings and tolerant of other people. You realize that you are imperfect, therefore you understand the failings of others. It is easy for you to let events take their own course, and surprises don’t throw you off balance. You probably place a high value on spontaneity and the expression of emotions.

10-20 points

Being in control is a frequent issue with you. You have more fears and hurt feelings than you let on, but you don’t work hard to resolve these feelings. Being in charge isn’t necessarily that important to you, but having your way usually is. You consider yourself organized and efficient, yet it isn’t a major event if things get a little out of control. You have found someone whom you can be honest and open with, but there are limits to how much you can safely say or do, even with that person.

Over 20 points

You are a controlling person. You feel that control is necessary because people hurt your feelings a lot, and your memory of this goes back into your painful childhood. To keep from being hurt more, you try to control your feelings, which basically means you are very selective about revealing yourself to others. Your overriding need to be in charge or to have things your way drives people away from you, despite the fact that you work very hard to take care of their needs. The only emotion you show easily is anger or irritability. You constantly explain your motives and give reasons for why you are the way you are, but somehow this doesn’t help you get you what you want, which is other people’s love and affection.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Drown Out the Discussion

It seems we have reached a point in Washington where the divisive rhetoric is so loud that we can't hear the facts anymore. This drown out the discussion strategy for trying to defeat health care reform isn't new. It has been used time and time again over the 200 plus years we have existed as a nation to drown out the voices of change. This truth is it isn't limited to Washington.

In our relationships some of us use the same strategy when we disagree. Instead of talking respectfully and listening attentively, so as to understand both sides of the situation, some of us practice drown out the discussion tactics. We appear to be listening when our partner is sharing their point of view, however what we may be doing is forming our next talking point. Many times we may be so absorbed with our own agenda that we hear virtually nothing being spoken. This can be a major contributor to poor communication between ourselves and our partner.

How do we become more attentive and focused as a listener? We keep our posture in an attitude of attentiveness. We lean forward slightly and look our partner in the eye. We keep our hands free and unoccupied. We listen without passing judgement or forming a reply. We focus on what is being shared. When our partner has finished speaking we reflect back the essence of the words and emotion that has been shared with us. We ask for confirmation. If necessary, we allow corrections and repeat the process until we have fully grasped our partners point of view. This process allows our partner to feel heard and validated. When our partner is satisfied that they have been fully understood they will be ready to listen to our point of view in the same manner.

Conversely, when we are the one sharing we focus on being succinct. We try to proceed through our points in a logical manner flowing from idea to idea in as few moments as possible. If we share too much at once our partner may lose our overall concept and be unable to comprehend our point of view. If we have a great deal to share we may need to break it into segments shared one at a time. When our partner reflects back our words and emotions, we listen attentively to ensure that the entirety of our message has been received. If we need to make corrections we do so gently and respectfully. When we are satisfied that we have been fully understood we thank our partner for their patience and compassion.

These simple ideas can bring us out of the morass of confusion and into the light of clarity. Communication can be misinterpreted easily. Tone of voice, words with multiple meanings, a look, a sigh, all can turn a discussion into a disagreement. With patience and practice we can learn to have a productive discussion even when we disagree.

As we find our voice and begin to speak our minds, we may encounter disagreements with our partner. Our ability to disagree without being disagreeable will ensure that we keep good will in our relationship. As we do so we increase our self esteem. We practice self care in our daily lives using our tools and practicing compassion. This form of communication is a tool we will use and cherish as we walk our path of recovery.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Love Addiction or Love?

In reviewing materials online and in print that are worth noting, this piece by Jed Diamond, is a must read for anyone in a relationship or planning to be in a relationship in the future.

By Jed Diamond, Ph.D., author of Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places:
Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addiction and The Irritable Male Syndrome

Since we all have grown up in a society that confuses healthy love with “love” addiction, many of us find it difficult to know whether our feelings are based on healthy intimacy or addictive desire. Based on my work over the last 45 year’s as a psychotherapist specializing in helping people develop and maintain healthy relationships, I offer the following comparison.

1. Healthy Love develops after we feel secure.
Addictive Love tries to create love even though we feel frightened and insecure.

2. Healthy Love comes from feeling full. We overflow with love.
Addictive Love is always trying to fill an inner void.

3. Healthy Love begins with self love.
Addictive Love always seeks love “out there” from that “special someone.”

4. Healthy Love comes to us once we’ve given up the search.
Addictive Love is compulsively sought after.

5. Healthy Love comes from inside. It wants to give.
Addictive Love comes from outside. It wants to take.

6. Healthy Love grows slowly, like a tree.
Addictive Love grows fast, as if by magic, like those children’s animals that expand instantly
when we add water.

7. Healthy Love thrives on time alone as well as time with our partner.
Addictive Love is frightened of being alone and afraid of being close.

8. Healthy Love is unique. There is no “ideal lover” that we seek.
Addictive Love is stereotyped. There is always a certain type that attracts us.

9. Healthy Love is gentle and comfortable.
Addictive Love is tense and combative.

10. Healthy Love is based on a deep knowing of ourselves and our lover.
Addictive Love is based on hiding from ourselves and falling in love with an ideal “image” not a
person.
 
11. Healthy Love encourages us to be ourselves, to be honest from the beginning with who we are, including our faults.
Addictive Love encourages secrets. We want to look good and put on an attractive mask.

12. Healthy Love flows out.
Addictive Love caves in.

13. Healthy Love creates a deeper sense of ourselves the longer we are together.
Addictive Love creates a loss of self the longer we are together.

14. Healthy Love gets easier as time goes on.
Addictive Love requires more effort as time goes on.

15. Healthy Love is like rowing across a gentle lake.
Addictive Love is like being swept away down a raging river.

16. Healthy Love grows stronger as fear decreases.
Addictive Love expands as fear increases.

17. Healthy Love is satisfied with what we have.
Addictive Love is always looking for more or better.

18. Healthy Love encourages interests to expand in the world.
Addictive Love encourages outside interests to contract.

19. Healthy Love is based on the belief that we want to be together.
Addictive Love is based on the belief that we have to be together.

20. Healthy Love teaches that we can only make ourselves happy.
Addictive Love expects the other person to make us happy and demands that we try to make them happy.

21. Healthy Love creates life.
Addictive Love creates melodramas.


Is It Love or "Love" Addiction?
Source: www.scribd.com

Thursday, August 13, 2009

FEAR: The Controlling Arm Within the Puppet

Fear of the DarkImage by stuant63 via Flickr

How do fears manifest themselves in our daily lives? How do these fears come to be a part of us? It is possible that we are unaware of how our fears affect our behavior?

We have been involved with our partner for a few months. We feel strong surges of emotion for our new partner. All is proceeding well, or so it seems. In the back of our mind, however, we have a nagging fear that our partner is being unfaithful. There have been no indicators to lead us to believe that this is happening and we have no external reason to feel this way, but we just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. We try to dodge the feelings and ignore them, telling ourself that it is all in our head.

Time passes and our attachment to our partner increases. We feel even more strongly about them than before. However, the sense that we are being duped increases. Our emotions are screaming at us that we are being had, that our partner is being unfaithful.

We can no longer ignore our feelings and begin to query our partner. At first we ask gently if they are happy with us, if there is anyone else in the picture. When we receive the assurance we seek we feel calmed. But the feeling doesn't last. After a few days we again feel the agitation and repeat our query. This time the assurance is followed with a request for an explanation. We are caught off guard and don't know how to respond. We try to make an excuse, but it is clear that we are concealing our true intent. We feel no better this time and begin to believe even more strongly that we are being duped. Our mind reels with the endless possibilities. We are plagued with thoughts we cannot bear.

Over time we try to avoid asking for further reassurances but cannot do so. Our partner becomes irritated with our lack of faith and begins to pull away emotionally. We feel the loss, adding fuel to the fire in our head. Our emotions spin out of control. We cannot tolerate our thoughts or feelings. Soon our partner tires of the endless questions and lack of trust and leaves the relationship. Our beliefs are confirmed. We were wrong to even begin to trust our partner in the first place.

What has happened to us? We have been plagued by fear. We entered into the relationship with the fear that we would be betrayed. In the process we caused the exact thing we feared. It happened as a result of our behavior. Because we had been hurt this way in a prior relationship and we did not allow ourselves to heal from that hurt, we carried it into our next relationship. We did not practice self care and did not allow ourselves the time to heal our wounds. We plunged into another relationship headlong without thinking of the consequences to ourselves. In the process, we set ourselves up to be hurt once again. Although we may initially believe that our partner was unfaithful, eventually we realize what has actually transpired. We chased our partner away.

We allowed our fear to run our life and direct our behavior. We felt powerless over our emotions and let them run rampant, causing havoc in our relationship. As a result of our display, our partner eventually tired of the drama and left the relationship. We created that which we feared. Or to look at it another way, our fear manifested itself in our lives through our behavior.

The importance of this point cannot be stressed enough. If we follow the logic through we can see how fear may manifest itself in other areas of our lives. Our fear of losing money may encourage unstable spending habits, causing us to fall into debt. We may fear gaining weight, thereby increasing our stress level to the point that we eat the wrong foods or eat to relax. Our fear of abandonment may lead us to cling to those we love, causing them to feel suffocated and in the process push them away.

When we enter into recovery we face our fears, acknowledge that they exist and are a part of who we are. We integrate them into our sense of self and allow ourselves the time and space to heal the old wounds that created the fears. We practice self care, work on increasing our self esteem and realize that our fears served us well at one time, but we no longer need them to protect us. We are capable of protecting ourselves. We use our tools and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt as we progress in our recovery, knowing that we will fall from time to time. That's okay. Perfection is not the goal.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Do We Heal Our Wounds?

Fairy Duster Glimpse (4 of 4)Image by cobalt123 via Flickr

Why do the memories of difficult moments in our childhood linger? Why do we react to the old hurts like they just happened yesterday? How do we heal?

When we are small we don't have the vocabulary to express our feelings or emotions. We rely on our caretakers to interpret our surroundings for us. When our caretakers are out of balance and unable to handle circumstances, they may fail to interpret them to us. This leaves us unable to understand our environment. We may not know how to handle what has happened, so we fail to integrate accurate information into our sense of self.

Over time as these occurrences continue, we lose parts of our self in the process. We may begin to dissociate from our feelings of being lovable or valuable. We may begin to believe that we must perform for acceptance. We may fear abandonment or losing a loved one. When we operate from a basis of fear we shrink our lives smaller and smaller as time passes.

When we enter into recovery we discover old hurts and mixed messages from the past. We find places within where we carry old bruises from events which we were unable to interpret as children. We unlock parts of our selves that we have been unable to access since our childhood.

If we have been numb to our feelings for many years we may find experiencing emotions overwhelming and possibly painful in the beginning. We may swing from feeling nothing to feeling everything. As we continue on our path of recovery we will lessen our tendency to swing wildly from one extreme to another and settle down to a balanced center.

If we have believed that we were unlovable or not valuable we may need to rebuild our self esteem through the use of our tools and self care. This will take time. We must be patient. It has taken many years for us to lose our self love and it will not heal quickly. If we are persistent we will reap the rewards that come with continued effort.

If we have been performing for acceptance we may need to begin to allow ourselves to be seen for who we truly are without pretense. This may be quite frightening until we discover that we are loved and valued for our inner self. Our tendency to perform may be strong. We may take three steps forward and two steps back time and time again as we learn to trust. We will find we can trust our gut and our ability to discern who is trustworthy.

If we have been abandoned in the past we may need to work on trust issues surrounding intimacy. This may be especially painful and scary in the initial stages. We are so accustomed to waiting for the other shoe to drop... because in the past, it usually did. Intimacy itself may have been linked to pain in our past. We take our time allowing ourselves to experience intimacy in small amounts, adjusting to the initial discomfort as we may experience some anxiety. As we continue to have positive experiences we will become more comfortable as time progresses. Eventually we will be able to revel in the joy of true intimacy in our relationships.

We may need to unlearn our tendency to be hypervigilant, allowing situations to unfold naturally without manipulation. This too can be overwhelming and feel out of control to us. We use our tools to calm ourselves and remind us that our higher power has our best interests at heart. We may not want to experience option B and have always manipulated the situation to create option A, but we never had the chance to walk our path where we find the best option of all... option C... the one our higher power always intended for us.

As we walk our path of recovery we discover that we can enjoy experiencing emotions once again. We find we are lovable and valuable. We realize that we do not have to perform to be accepted but are accepted as we are. The most valuable lesson we learn, however, is that no one can abandon us but ourselves. The most others can do is leave. As long as we have ourselves we will never be lonely again.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Have Another Cookie Sweetie

We are four years old. We have just come home from the playground where a bully has pushed us off the swings and we have scraped our knee. We are crying. Our Mom is sitting with us bandaging our knee. She smiles up at us and says, "It's okay sweetie pie. You're all right." She finishes the bandage and wipes away the tears. She crosses to the cabinet and retrieves a cookie. "Here you go. Have a cookie, you'll feel better." We eat the cookie and moments later feel the rush of energy from the sugar. We don't feel better about the incident with the bully, we haven't even processed what has happened and no one has chosen to talk it over with us. We do, however, feel energized by the sugar. We get up off the chair, receive a hug from Mom and go play. We ignore our feelings, just like Mom.


What have we learned from this experience?

We have learned several lessons. In our four year old mind we think as follows: first; injuries cause us to receive cookies we might not be allowed to eat otherwise. Second, being bullied by another child and the hurt feelings that follow are not discussed. Third, our feelings are unimportant. Four, adults know best what to do and how to react to what is happening to us, therefore we model ourselves after them.

From an adult perspective we have been taught the following: when we are upset, injured, traumatized or uncomfortable we should look for something to ingest to make ourselves feel better, whether a cookie or a pill. Dealing with feelings is difficult, unnecessary and complicated. Processing what has happened to us, which requires the assistance of an adult, is not going to happen. Overall, we are not important enough to be taken seriously and we don't have the voice to express our needs.

As we progress in life we carry this lesson with us. It is a powerful lesson. We may transfer the lesson from cookies to alcohol, prescription drugs or illicit drugs. Regardless of what choice we make we are still using the lesson of the cookie. Rather than facing our feelings or proactively dealing with situations we choose to anesthetize both the feelings and situations.

What happens when we have spent a great deal of our lives anesthetizing ourselves from our feelings? How do we come back to life again? We use our tools, practice self care, work on our recovery increasing our self esteem one day at a time until we once again begin to feel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Answers to Questions on Health Care Reform

It never ceases to amaze how ignorance is fostered regarding political issues. Rather than quoting talking points and passing around emails that make sweeping and incorrect generalizations, lets make the effort to help people get educated with facts.

What is health care reform actually about?

Health care reform is actually about changing the way that insurance companies are permitted to write contracts between themselves and their clients. Currently there are only a few major health insurance companies in the United States and they write over 90% of the health coverage available to private individuals, unions, corporations and small businesses. Since there are only just these few writing most of the coverage and interstate competition is not allowed in most cases, many health insurers can and do charge whatever they wish for their policies. Over the past few years the cost of purchasing health insurance has increased about 42%. As a result, many employers have opted to begin charging employees for a portion of the cost of health insurance in their pay checks.

What does it mean when we hear about hidden costs in health care?

Health insurance companies have opted in many instances to begin to charge policyholders large deductibles and co-insurance to lower the payouts they make to policy holders. This has dramatically increased the real cost of health care for the average person. For example, a routine recommended preventative procedure, like a colonoscopy at age 50, now has a new feature - co-insurance under Empire Blue Cross of over $800.00. That is what the patient pays when they do have health insurance. If they don't have health insurance the cost for the procedure is about $3500.00. The alternative, of course, is not to have the procedure at all, thereby increasing the risk of developing cancer later in life.

What does the new legislation say about insurance policy changes?

The legislation before congress will change the way that insurance companies are permitted to write policies, eliminating much of the large deductibles and co-insurance payments. Wellness visits will be encouraged and preventative medicine as well. There are some who would like to add a clause to this legislation that would pay bonuses to Doctors whose patients adopt healthier lifestyles, for example: quitting smoking, losing weight, less alcohol consumption and so on. These are areas known to decrease the chances for chronic disease later in life. Additionally, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny claims for "pre-existing" conditions as a result of this legislation.

Who are the ones against health insurance reform?

These issues are agreed upon by both sides of the aisle. The only ones truly interested in defeating the health care legislation are the insurance companies!! They are the ones making billions in profit while many average Americans go bankrupt due to the overwhelming cost of health care even with insurance.

What happens if no health insurance reform is passed?

Think about the co-insurance you might have to pay if you developed cancer... could you afford to pay 20% of the cost of a few hundred thousand dollars of treatments and hospitalizations? Would you go bankrupt? Or would you opt not to have the treatments? Those are the current choices facing many Americans who are sick and already have health insurance.

What are insurance companies doing to stop health care reform from passing?

The insurance companies are spending over $1,400,000.00 every day to lobby congress - both Republicans and Democrats - to defeat this legislation. That means donating money to their campaign for re-election funds. And where does that money come from? Your premiums!! Don't be fooled by rhetoric that "seems" to be coming from politicians... it's not. It's coming from paid lobbyists who are incredibly skilled at public relations and do this full time for a living!! Get informed. Don't allow yourself to be blinded by rage fueled by lobbyists paid by insurance companies... they get paid to disseminate misinformation, don't do it for free!!

Finally, what's all the talk about a public option? What is the purpose of a public option?

A public option is to bring sorely needed competition into the health insurance market. Some of the major costs associated with doing business are marketing, advertising and lobbying. They consume a very large portion of a company's budget. Public health insurance will have no such overhead allowing the cost of running a public plan to be much lower, passing the savings onto the consumer and bringing down prices in the health insurance market. This is clearly why the health insurance companies are diametrically opposed to a public option being included in any health care reform. It would serve to lower costs, reduce overhead and limit profits. It should be noted that at one time Blue Cross was a non-profit health insurer. It's service was excellent and it's costs low. Now it is Empire Blue Cross and no longer non-profit. In the process, the quality of the coverage offered has deteriorated markedly, and the price has sky rocketed.

Why do folks fear a government run health care program?

The rhetoric suggests that the government will dictate how your doctor can perform his duties. This flies in the face of the fact that the American Medical Association fully supports health care reform. Remember, health care reform is about reforming the health insurance industry. People have been told that the government is encouraging folks to have a Living Will and Health Care Proxy, and that these will be instruments that will cause the elderly to die earlier. This is nonsense. Living Wills and Health Care Proxies allow us to choose how we want our end of life decisions handled, and who will make those decisions for us if we cannot do so. We write a Living Will and Health Care Proxy while we are healthy, so that our desires will be met. All persons should have a Living Will and Health Care Proxy written with the advice of an estate planning attorney.

What is it that people fear about a public option?

Many older Americans fear losing their medical coverage to a public option. Medicare is the public option. Others fear that companies and unions will opt out of private health insurance, selecting instead the public option to save money. These same folks fear that this will eventually lead to a single payer system where private insurance disappears all together. This fear is unfounded. As long as there is profit to be made in any industry, there will be demand and supply.

Is the government capable of running a large health insurance option well?

Congress employs thousands of people, not just in elected office but as staff. They all have excellent health care - government run health care. Our military has excellent health care, some say the best in the country - government run health care. The Veterans Administration has received highest marks for the quality of their health care. They also have some of the lowest costs - no marketing, advertising or lobbying - again, government run health care. Here we have four excellent examples of how government is already capable of doing something very well: Veterans Administration, the military, Congress and Medicare. All examples of government run health care, each of which works very well for millions of Americans.

What are the statistics about Americans wanting health care reform?

All the polling has show that over 80% of Americans want health care reform. That is the largest number of Americans agreeing on almost any issue in the last sixty years. Our congress must act to produce a bill that creates real reform. Let us all do our part to present the facts to those in our circle. With a bit of effort we can educate everyone about the truth regarding health care reform.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Being the Right Person

The key to succeeding in any relationship is not finding the right person, it's being the right person.

That is a powerful statement. Many of us go through life looking for Mr. or Ms. Right. We scour the night time scene, go out with a myriad of folks, suffer through endless blind dates and end up no further along than when we began. We have missed the most important point of all.

We attract not what we want, but who we are. As we think carefully about that statement we wonder... Would I want to date myself? Would I make a good partner? Am I a person I would want to be with in a relationship?

When we finally do find a partner and enter into a relationship, we may find it challenging over time to maintain the happiness we first discovered together. When that happens it is easy to point fingers at our partner and blame them for the challenges we face. When we are busy looking at another and blaming them for the problems we share, we have no energy left to look at ourselves and see our part in the conflict.

We must recall that no one is blameless when conflict arise in a relationship. Each of us has our part and must take responsibility for what we have or have not done to make the relationship work.

One of the primary areas we work at is personal growth. We have a lifetime dedicated to this task. We practice the art of self care and recovery daily. We continue to use our tools to see ourselves in the clearest light while learning to exercise discernment regarding our behavior and those with whom we associate. As we learn to trust ourselves and our ability to assess situations accurately, our self esteem increases. In this way we give ourselves the gift of sound judgement.
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