The joy of gardening

There are few things I enjoy more than gardening.  It’s the best therapy for a busy mind.  When I’m having a hard time settling my brain to a more normal spin, nothing helps more than going out into the garden or the to the flower pots and tending.   I find that the focus required is enough to quiet my thoughts into a more concise and logical flow.

It’s so important that we all find some way to recharge and seriously reorganize all the jumble that fills our heads every day.  We collect so much information – useful and not so much – it’s no wonder we often feel we are spiraling out of control.  It’s why my kid gives me the “you never listen” look.   “I can’t; I’ve got 50,000 other things floating around in my head.  Let me deadhead the petunias and I’ll be right back with you.

The care and focus required in gardening may seem minimal.  It may even seem trivial or menial or any other kind of ‘al” you can think of.  I don’t feel that way; but if it is, that is quite possibly the magic of it.  To be able to concentrate on something somewhat simplistic is a joy I’d encourage everyone to experience.

I’ve always had flowers.  I love the color and aroma and being able to watch the seasons from spring to fall play out in my yard.   I love acquiring new plants and watching them thrive as they mature and blossom.  I love trimming them knowing that a snip here or there will make my plants healthier and more beautiful.  And yes, I do get compliments on my beautiful gardens to which I credit the prior owner for the initial plantings, but the enjoyment is mostly my own.  It’s the peacefulness of admiring the colors and scents that is why I love them.  It’s thinking about the care of each plant that allows me to slow down and simply breathe.

This year, I added a vegetable garden.  I haven’t had one in several years and this is the first one in my new house.  It’s a small one; I won’t be feeding the neighborhood but if judging by the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it so far, it seems like 40 acres.  Even the dogs know understand “let’s go visit the garden” means a trip to the other side of the garage.  “Stay off the cucumber vine” is still a phrase we’re working on.

Weeding and caring for veggies may not seem fun, but getting some dirt under your (albeit blue) fingernails is rewarding.  It’s calming.  It’s a time where I can focus on the task at hand and not the 50 waiting for me when I step out of the garden.  Finding the tiny cukes or the surprise zucchini (not my zucchini plant) is exciting!  I spied one this morning and have been deciding on a recipe since!

I’ve never walked away from my garden feeling tense or angry although I’ve gone to it near tears and frustrated beyond reason.   I’ve found it a place of peace and healing.  A place where a busy brain can slow and all the weirdness and insanity of the day can be properly filed away.  It’s a sanctuary.  A safe harbor.  A refuge.  It’s my happy place.

See you in the garden!

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Fighting the Good Fight

It is inconceivable to me that politicians can stand before a podium or go on a news show and back the BCA (Better Care Act).   What shocks me more is the lengths that these politicians will go to try and make it happen.   From POTUS’s bullying of legislators to in-fighting and planning strategic votes and delays, those who want to see the end of the Affordable Care Act have really gone above and beyond to stack the deck in their favor.

So that begs the question: who is in favor of repealing Obamacare and replacing it with the Better Care Act?  Actually, not a lot of people.   Not even a clear majority of Republicans who really really want ACA replealed but are not united on its replacement.   GOP Senators go from the new law would not go far enough to it goes too far especially in terms of Medicaid cuts.  In fact, a lot of the members of the Senate have yet to thoroughly review the BCA and (rightfully so) are hesitant to cast a vote before they do.   The last-minute Amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) further complicates the process by adding more verbiage and stipulation.

Governors and state legislators worry that cuts in the federal laws will force them to cut services or raise taxes, a literal no-win situation.   To state level politicians, it’s clear that they are being thrown under the bus by their federal counterparts.  John Q. Legislator will have to face angry and concerned constituents who find themselves without health care or with staggering out of pocket costs.

Doctors are not in favor of the BCA because they understand what it will mean to their patients when insurance premiums, deductibles and other costs become out of the reach of the average budget.  As always happens, children, the poor and the elderly will be the most affected by the proposed changes in the BCA.

And while I’ve little faith in our insurance companies for being all about patient care, two of the biggies are not completely backing the BCA.  America’s Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield contacted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asking they remove Cruz’s amendment fearing it would make insurance for the sick simply too expensive.

The Congressional Budget Office has not had the Cruz amendment long enough to review.  However they have determined that the original replacement for ACA would result in 22 million Americans losing health care coverage over the next 10 years.   Furthermore, the CBO said the original plan would lead to higher costs for individuals with less covered benefits.  That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.

Finally, and most importantly, most Americans are not in favor of this new plan.   It is one more thing they have to worry about…will their families continue to be covered?   What if their child becomes sick?  Their spouse or their parents?  The average American just does not need one more thing to obsess over.  So while the Senators play with our lives like a giant chess set, the majority of us know at least one person who will be adversely affected by this new plan.   Yes, we want fair and responsible management.  We want to see wasteful spending curbed.  We want an end to high insurance costs.  But we don’t want them at expense of our children, our poor and our elderly.   We want sound but compassionate management.   The BCA doesn’t appear to be giving us anything in the compassion department.  And the fallout is what keeps me up at night.

Friends, please be diligent.   Please keep after your legislators.   Read the news.  All the news.  Go out of your comfort zone and listen to the opposition.  But please, don’t be silent on this issue.   It is our duty, our ultimate duty, to be the voice of humanity and care of those who can’t care for themselves.  We have to look out for each other.  And this is the most important place to start.

Love. Peace. And wellness for all.

Shabad, R. (2017, July 17)). Senate health care bill on brink of collapse, vote tally shows.  MSN Website. Retrieved July 17, 2017 from http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/senate-health-care-bill-on-brink-of-collapse-vote-tally-shows/ar-BBEA04Y?li=BBnb7Kz

Watson, K. (2017, July 15). Insurance groups tear into Cruz amendment to health care bill as “unworkable”.  CBS Website.  Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/insurers-tear-into-latest-health-care-bill-as-unworkable/?ftag=MSF0951a18

Shabad, R. (2017, June 26).  CBO:  22 million more would be without health insurance over next decade under Senate bill. CBS Website. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbo-score-senate-gop-health-care-bill/?ftag=MSF0951a18

 

 

The Friday Bitch – Don’t Worry About It

I am a worrier.  Always have been.   Always will be.  It’s my nature.  I take things seriously.   I don’t want to fail.  So I worry.  It’s just the way it goes.

My new worry is that the rest of you are not worrying enough.  I mean come on people, I can’t be worrying for all of us.  You guys need to pick up the slack.  So me being me, I’m going to give you a few things to worry about in list format…’cause I’m cool like that.

Top 5 Things to Worry About

  1. The Japan-EU Trade Deal. The big thing to worry about here is the fact that the US is not part of the deal.   I know a lot of people are saying “so what, let them free trade themselves till they can’t walk straight”, but it’s kinda disturbing that the US is not involved in global trade.  Wait, maybe what’s even more concerning is the fact that global trade is happening without us.  We weren’t invited because we are the sulking child in the corner who doesn’t share.  And we’re now alone and no one is paying attention to us.  It’s hard to make a difference on the world stage when no one cares what we’re doing.
  1. Congress is crazy. I know, politics is frustrating and while it is cause for worry, maybe it’s just been a worry for so long that it’s simply not worth worrying about any more.  But the way our members of congress behave is cause for worry.  They set the tone of what we all feel is semi-rational behavior.  The shit they are pulling these days is really boggling my mind.  From their lack of empathy for the rest of us to the contempt they show for their colleagues and the raw, selfish behavior, it’s making me worry.  I didn’t send these people to Washington for them to ignore me.  And I didn’t send them there to have one more thing to worry about.
  1. Addiction is out of control. We all have faced demons of addiction in one form or another, but today’s Opioid addiction is seriously out of control.   It is as if there is a new social class in our communities:  the addict.  I’m showing my age here but remember the movie “The Breakfast Club” (yeah GOAT, I know).  But you had the prep, the jock, the princess and the outcast.  Add one more:  the addict.   It’s as if, and call me naïve because I’m just seeing this now, being an addict is a lifestyle.  I hate it.  I hate what it has done to people.  I hate that I’ve sat with a mom at 1:00 a.m. while her son lie dead in his room from an overdose.   And I worry for these people.  What will happen to them, their children and our community?  I can’t even fathom.  I can only worry.
  1. There are no last frontiers. The world does not come together any more for a common cause.   We’ve had our moon landing.  We’ve found the Titantic and maybe Amelia Earhart.  But what’s next?  When are we going to cure cancer?   Stop world hunger?   As a global community, we have no more common causes.   We’re not looking for the next big thing unless that thing is only for us.   We’ve become selfish and self-absorbed and unwilling to come together for the good of all.   We need to band together, all of us, and step up.  We’ve slacked and become withdrawn.  We’ve stopped supporting each other.
  1. There is no empathy in the world. This ties into the above, but there is seriously no one out there caring about their fellow man.   Like, where are the people feeding and clothing those who need it?  I know, I know, they are out there.  But why aren’t we talking about them?  Why are we in such a “ME” mindset that we look down upon not only those in need, but those helping them?  When did charity and good deeds fall out of fashion and scorn and hate take its place?   Why is it ok to look upon someone with less than us and ridicule them?   Why is it okay to say that those addicted or on public assistance or without health care are just getting what they deserve?  I don’t want to let nature take its course and weed out the “undesirables”.   I want to give everyone a chance or two.  I want to see a recovering addict stand before an auditorium and tell his or her story.  Or the single mom who got government benefits and now is gainfully employed.  I want to see people succeed, not be left to die.  I want social conscious, empathy and a want to make things better for all.

 

Phew, I don’t know about you, but I could use a nap after all that.   And I hope that I nap long enough to miss all the name calling I could potentially receive for putting my thoughts out here.  I know I sound like what a lot of people are saying is clearly a lunatic.   But I’m not.  I am a person with a social conscious who does not want to toss away human beings because they are not the same as me.  And I want you to look at the person, not the addiction, affliction or bank balance and see the person.   Whether it’s someone in your hometown or someone across a border or an ocean, we have to realize that people matter.

 

 

 

 

When the Ship Sails

I recently ended a friendship.   It was partly a mutual ending but I was the one to walk away.   Circumstances warranted the split.  And I left.   And I really haven’t looked back.

Well, I may have looked back a little.

When any kind of “-ship” ends – be it friend, partner, relation or otherwise – you are bound to examine the details and maybe learn how you ended up leaving someone you cared about.  And if you are an over thinker, you do this non-stop for way too many hours of your day.   But regardless of how much time you (over)spend on it, you are always looking for what you did wrong.

And that’s when you have to understand that maybe it wasn’t you.

Not every “-ship” is meant to last.  Not every person is completely compatible with you.   And not every person has the same investment in the “-ship” as you do.  Some people may think they do, but in the end, their interests turn elsewhere and you are left over thinking and wondering and, yes, blaming yourself.

In my mind, I had set some hard limits as to what I would tolerate.   I had verbalized those limits in subtle and not so subtle conversations.  And I knew that eventually those limits would be breached and the friendship would be over.  I knew it and I know my ex-friend knew it as well.  But that did not stop the breach.   And that is not my fault.   Standards were established and expectations were not met.  End of story.

Still I question my decision.  And still I miss my friend.   I want to pick up the phone and text.  I miss what we had.  But I know that I can’t compromise myself and I knew what I wouldn’t tolerate.  And while I will not re-establish that connection, I will read give myself some time to mourn.  And maybe to learn.  And then to move on.

Parting is not always sweet sorrow.  Sometimes, it’s just quietly fading away on a foggy night with only your navigation lights running.  And that’s okay.

Never be afraid to bail when you see the “-ship” is going nowhere!  Stay true to yourself because you are so worth it.