Category Archives: Health

Quotes Worth Repeating: Be Faithful By Being Yourself

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“I thought that being faithful was about becoming someone other than who I was … and it was not until this project failed that I began to wonder if my human wholeness might be more useful to God than my exhausting goodness.” – Barbara Brown Taylor in “Leaving Church” 

I Wonder What Would Happen

(The above video features the song Brave by Sara Bareilles)

This post is a contribution to the June Synchroblog: Ordinary Courage in which bloggers are invited to share their thoughts and stories about ordinary courage.

“Heroics are often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.” –  Brené Brown

For the record, I am a huge fan of Brené Brown.  I could spend my whole post telling you about her, her great Ted talks, her great books, her great ideas but instead I will just confess that everything in this post is inspired by her.  AND I encourage you to check her out if you haven’t already done so by clicking on some links in this paragraph.

In her new book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brené harkened back to a speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910. In it, Roosevelt said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I absolutely love that quote and I find it very inspirational but to be honest, I  have a hard time thinking of myself as brave or courageous.  The truth is I have a lot of fears.  Sickness, unemployment, accidents, violence, financial woes, rejection, failure, aging, not fitting in, being misunderstood and more that I am sure I will think of later.  Not only do I have these fears, I am even afraid to talk about the fears that I have.  But I’m finding out that being afraid does not disqualify one from being brave or courageous.  The crazy and wonderful thing is I might have fears but I can still be brave.  I can still walk into the arena, I can still take the chance of getting marred, of falling down or coming up short.  I might be afraid, I might even fail, but I can be brave, I can dare greatly.  What a revelation!  I don’t have to wait until I am no longer afraid before I get in the arena.

One thing that helps me go ahead even when I am afraid is playing the “I Wonder What Would Happen” scenario out in my head.

I wonder what would happen if I stay silent, I wonder what would happen if I speak up, I wonder what would happen if I make the first move, I wonder what would happen if I wait on someone else to make the first move, I wonder what would happen if I actually think about my fears, I wonder what would happen if I try to ignore and suppress my fears, I wonder what would happen if I try now, I wonder what would happen if I wait until I’m “better” “smarter” “have more experience” “older” “less busy” before I try.

You get the idea.  I try to imagine the worst, the best, the possible, the probable.  But I don’t just imagine it.  I find someone to talk it out with.  Not just anyone, but someone who I can trust to be honest but gentle with me, someone who really cares about me and knows me as a whole person, someone who I believe wants and celebrates good things for me.  It really does help me live beyond my fears.

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Sometimes that means being kinder and gentler with myself, sometimes it means pushing myself to do something that makes my heart beat too fast, sometimes it means coming along side someone else who is struggling or experiencing failure and reminding them how brave they were for even trying.  Sometimes it means doing something that I might fail at or asking for what I need when I don’t like to be the one who is needing.  

There are days when I think, “to heck with it! What’s so important about being brave and courageous?”

And then I remember that I want to be brave and courageous because I like being and feeling alive.  I want to get into the arena because if I try to avoid all possible pain I will also most likely be avoiding the possibility of joy and happiness.  I want to show up and try because I want to make a difference in my little part of the world, in my community, in my workplace, in my family.  I want to take a chance because I only have one life to spend and I want to spend it.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are nothing more than me getting the courage to do something new like snorkel in the ocean for the first time.  Boy, am I glad I showed up for that one. Talking about feeling alive and experiencing joy and happiness.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are trying something like blogging without worrying what others will think about me and my posts and ideas; and simply doing it because of the pleasure and healing and insight it brings to my own life.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are more about others such as when I stopped being silent about my support for lgbtq people, same sex marriage and complete equality, and sharing my new and revised understanding of what scripture has to say on the subject.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are healing like when I share my own failures and fears out loud.  They are healing to me because in sharing them they shrink in size and power and at the same time they are healing to others because as they encourage me they encourage their own self to know: they aren’t alone, their story hasn’t ended yet, they too can get back up again.

I think we all have something that keeps us from being brave and the most logical one to think of is fear but I’ve been discovering another obstacle to me being brave that may even be bigger than my fears and that is perfectionism.

Yes, I am a perfectionist.  I’d like to say a recovering perfectionist but most of the time that wouldn’t be true.  At the same time I am trying to keep the perfectionism subdued these days and sometimes I am winning the struggle.

I no longer take days to write a short post for my blog.  I don’t wait for others to make the first move.  I’m letting go of the idea of “the perfect holiday” “the perfect mother” “the perfect wife” “the perfect marriage” “the perfect anything”.  I’m finding some humor and even goodness in my imperfections.  I’m finally beginning to enjoy my humanity.  I’m starting to like “me”.

But mostly, I am finding that the best antidote to perfectionism is finally believing that I (me! – not me the mother, or me the wife, or me the good writer or idea person or wise thinker, or me the best friend, or me the employee who is always on time or a great team player or the one with the best attitude – just me) am worthy of love and acceptance!!!  My worthiness is not attached to how good I am at doing something, or to how good I look, or how much I succeed.  My worthiness just “is”.

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Sure I have trouble believing it some days but some days I do believe it and some days I don’t even have to try and believe it … I just do.

When I am not so caught up in being perfect I can more easily show up and be me and I am discovering that I am better at being me than most other things!

I wonder what would happen if we all tried really hard to just be ourself?

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——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Here is the list of all the contributions to this month’s synchroblog.  I hope you will take the time to read these great thoughts and stories on Ordinary Courage:

This Is Courage by Jen Bradbury

Being Vulnerable by Phil Lancaster

Everyday Bravery: Overcoming the Fear of Being Wrong by Jessica

Moving Forward Takes Courage by Paul W. Meier

How to Become a Flasher by Glenn Hager

Ordinary Courage by Elaine Hansen

Courage, Hope, Generosity by Carol Kuniholm

The Courage to Fail by Wendy McCaig

The Greatest Act of Courage by Jeremy Myers

Sharing One’s Heart by K. W. Leslie

All I See Is Rocks by Tim Nichols

I Wonder What Would Happen by Liz Dyer

What is Ordinary Courage? by Jennifer Stahl

Loving Courageously by Doreen A. Mannion

Heart Cry: The Courage to Confess by Elizabeth Chapin

The Act to the Miraculous by VisionHub

the spiritual practice of showing up & telling the truth by Kathy Escobar

It’s What We Teach by Margaret Boelman

PS I chose the video above because it featured Sara Bareilles’ song Brave and I thought it fit this theme so well.  Be sure and check it out.   Here are the lyrics:

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you

The First Step Is Admitting There Is A Problem

This post is part of a synchroblog on extreme economic inequality. The list of participants will be posted at the end of this post as soon as they are available.

Extreme Income Inequality is a hot topic in theU.S.

There are numerous reports, studies and books on the subject.  All presenting overwhelming evidence that income inequality is reaching never before seen levels in our country and around the world.

A Census Report finds that nearly half (1 in 2) of Americans are poor or low income.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office last October found that between the years 1979 and 2007 the average real after-tax household income for the bottom 20 percent rose 18% but the top 1 percent of the population saw their incomes rise 275%.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported in May 2011 that “the gap between rich and poor in O.E.C.D. countries has reached its highest level for over 30 years.” TheU.S.had a gap of 14 to 1 between the richest ten percent and the poorest ten percent.

Extreme income inequality is a fact and so is the possibility that it could prove economically and socially disastrous.

Before I go any further I want to address the idea of extreme income inequality and point out that what we are talking about is not “income inequality” but “EXTREME income inequality”.

Many people don’t understand the extreme income inequality that is occurring because that kind of wealth is beyond what most of us can imagine.

Here are a couple of illustrations that helped me understand the kind of exteme conditions that are occurring.

If you made a dollar per second, every second, you’d be making $3,600 per hour and you’d be a millionaire in 11.5 days.  But, it would take you 32 years to become a billionaire.  If Bill Gates had made his fortune at $3,600 per hour he would have had to be earning that rate of income for 1,600 years.

Or… let’s say you earned $29,000 per year (which is the median income in theU.S.).  If you made $29,000 a year and never spent a single penny of it you would need to earn that much for 34,482 years in order to save a billion dollars.

And yet, there are people in the U.S. who make a billion dollars a year, every year, while the majority of people make “extremely” less than that (obviously if the average income in the U.S. is $29,000 per year).

In 2007 Forbes reported 400 people had as much wealth as half of our population. The combined net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans in 2007: $1.5 trillion. The combined net worth of the poorest 50% of American households: $1.6 trillion.  

Now that we have an idea of the extreme income inequality that is occurring let’s look at why it matters.

Studies are revealing that many social problems are related to extreme income inequality.  A society being too rich or not rich enough does not seem to be the problem.  The problem is large gaps between the richest and poorest.  Whether it is a country, a state or a neighborhood extreme income inequality seems to affect everyone in the community negatively.  Physical health, teen pregnancy, imprisonment, education, trust, life expectancy, mental health, obesity, creativity, murder, innovation – whatever was measured seemed to prove extreme income inequality increases the problem.  Physical and mental health are worse, teen pregnancy is higher, more people are imprisoned, people trust other people less, life expectancy is lower, more people are obese, creativity and innovation decrease, murder rates increase as income inequality increases, people are less content. This doesn’t happen just for the poor but for everyone.  For example, countries that have the largest gaps have rates of mental illness that are five times higher than countries with the smallest gaps and that includes everyone; a baby born in the U.S. is twice as likely to die before turning one year old as a baby born in Japan where the gap is significantly less; and the average life expectancy for an American is three years shorter than for a Swede who lives in a country that enjoys a lower rate of inequality.  AND if you subtract the poor from the analysis the scores don’t change.  Extreme income inequality is like a pollutant that spreads throughout society.  For more detailed information check out The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (or here’s a Ted talk by Richard Wilkinson that does a good job of summarizing the info in the book).

In addition to all the social ills, extreme income inequality is not good for the economic condition of a country.  (Again, I am not talking about “income inequality” but “EXTREME income inequality”) Billionaires contributed to both the Great Depression and the recent depression. When money becomes mostly concentrated with a small percentage of the population less money is pumped back into the economy because the richest will invest the majority of their money. The increased investment levels vs the decreased money entering the market place leads to inflated bubbles and riskier investments which eventually lead to market crashes. Trickle down economics doesn’t work in the midst of extreme income inequality. The book The Trouble With Billionaires: Why Too Much Money At The Top Is Bad For Everyone by Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks is an excellent resource for more on this.

And finally, extreme income inequality is bad for everyone because obviously the rich will primarily use their wealth to help themselves socially, economically and politically.  A vicious cycle occurs where the super rich push for new laws and loop holes that allow them to become even richer, which allows them to push harder, and that makes them even more rich etc. etc. etc.  Mega rich billionaires represent a very real threat to democracy as their voices are heard much louder and clearer than the average citizen’s voice is ever heard. For example, the most advanced, lucrative investments are limited to “accredited” investors.  The average person may think that indicates some kind of license or education or certification.  No, “accredited” investors are the rich.  The rich have created investments that only they can invest in!  In other words, the “game” is rigged so that the rich can unfairly keep getting richer at the expense of everyone else.

Social ills, economic collapse, political corruption are all caused by extreme income inequality but the rich don’t want you to believe it and they have the power and money and connections to get all sorts of information out to you to convince you that extreme income inequality is not a problem.  Or sometimes they will tell you that extreme income inequality doesn’t even exist or that it isn’t increasing.   “It’s not bad for you”  “It has always been this way”  “It doesn’t exist”  I’m sure you have heard some or all of those. However, overwhelming evidence is beginning to reveal these kinds of statements as a last ditch effort for super rich individuals and big corporations to maintain the status quo.

Solutions to the problem will come in a variety of forms. Ending special tax breaks for the rich.  Fairer investment regulations.  Improved assistance programs.  Better public educational systems.  Campaign reform.  Reformed corporate regulations. Enrichment of opportunity enhancing programs.  However, the first step is admitting there is a problem and the evidence in the U. S. and around the world indicates that more and more people are coming to grips with the fact that extreme income inequality is a significant problem and that something has to be done about it.

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Be sure and check out the other contributions to this month’s synchroblog:

Marta Layton – Fear Leads to Anger. Anger Leads to hate …

Kathy Escobar – Pawn Shops, Empty Refrigerators, The Long Hill Up

Carol Kuniholm - Wondering About Wealth

Glenn Hager - Shrinking The Gap

Jeremy Myers – Wealth Distribution

Liz Dyer – The First Step Is Admitting There Is A Problem

Ellen Haroutunian – Economic Inequality: Coming Back To Our Senses 

K.W. Leslie – Wealth, Christians, and Justice

Abbie Watters – My Confession

Steve Hayes – Obscenity

Why Not. Bart?

More Flawed Opposition To A Public Healthcare Option

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it has become common for people who are against a public healthcare option to use everything they don’t like about the government as their defense.  Just yesterday I heard a radio personality on some Christian radio station say that because he didn’t like the way the speed limit was being set and enforced on a local toll road he was against a public healthcare option.  In other words, if the government has done anything that doesn’t seem right or smart it is scary to think about your healthcare being managed by the government.  This kind of logic is flawed in more than one way.

First and foremost, this kind of defense is fear based.  The people who are using it are in one of two camps – either they want you to be afraid or they are afraid (some may actually be in both camps).  Fear is never a good foundation for making rational decisions.  Fear keeps a lot of good people from doing the right thing everyday.

The logic is also flawed because it compares apples to oranges.  Our government is already involved in several levels of healthcare and seems to manage it fairly well.  That isn’t to say that there are no improvements to be made, but all in all it works.  My mother-in-law lived with us for seven years and I saw first hand how great medicare worked.  My dad was a war veteran and his VA health benefits were wonderful.  My mother-in-law and dad would have been much worse off without these government run programs.

Another reason the defense doesn’t hold water is because other countries make government run healthcare work just fine, and if they can do it, I say, “so can we.”  The opponents of the public option would like you to believe that people in other countries don’t like their healthcare, but time and time again this is proven to not be true.  Because of the wonderful way we can connect with people around the world through online social networking these days, I have friends in Canada and the UK. These friends love their government run healthcare programs, see them as a birthright, depend on them.  The systems work so well that the typically don’t give them a second thought and even take them for granted. We heard what British citizens thought of the NHS, their government run healthcare program, when the twitter hashtag #welovetheNHS trended on Twitter for several days as Brits of all ages and backgrounds tweeted their defense of the NHS.  And shortly after that Matte Black (@Shoq on twitter) and a friend took their video camera on vacation to interview Canadians about their health care system. Watch the video above for yourself.  (My favorite part of the video is the “deer in the headlights” look they get on their face when asked about a copay.)

It’s true – the government is far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need the government or that the government can’t do anything good…and it certainly isn’t a good defense for opposing a public healthcare option.

#myPremium – Show America What This Is Costing Us

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@Shoq on twitter started the hashtag #myPremium asking the twitterverse to:    “TWEET YOUR PREMIUM COST to #myPremium – Show America what this is costing us”   Here’s a sample of some of the tweets:

From Canada and British Columbia:

 AureliaCotta: 2 adults, 3 kids pay $0 for free health care in Canada. We’d be uninsurable in the US. #myPremium (via @Shoq)

 @Shoq My premium cost? $108 / month for a family of 4. 0$ deductible. 0$ co-pay. No recision. No PECs. Living in Canada though. :)

 @Hoptoad4 My insurance company is the British Columbia provincial health care plan. Government insurance is the best insurance. #mypremium

 HaidaPrincess: @Shoq holy smokes. I’m Canadian. Holy Smokes. I pay nothing and get everything. It’s unbelievable the cost u guys pay. #MyPremium #p2

 slackadjuster: RT @AlphabetSalad: $96/month for me/my husband. Complete coverage, no deductible, no co-pay (er, what’s a co-pay?). I’m in Canada #MyPremium

 From those who have no health insurance:

 faboomama: My family of 4 does not have health insurance because we can’t afford it & 2 of us can’t get covered: http://bit.ly/fNwT1 #myPremium

 blondetwit: #myPremium I don’t have one. No one will cover me :-(

 dotlizard: RT @faboomama My family of 4 doesn’t have hlth ins b/c we can’t afford it & 2 of us can’t get covered: http://bit.ly/fNwT1 #myPremium

  From those whose premiums keep going up and up and up:

 trianglman: My premium has increased 7% a year for five years, my pay has only increased 2-3%. Now 12% of my income goes to insurance #myPremium

 jillosopher: #MyPremium is up 38% in one yr. 2 adults. Our portion is $2400/yr (employer’s $9600.) copays up. I now pay $320/mo for Rxes. Was $40/mo.

 From those who pay too much and get too little:

 atlantalily1: @Shoq #myPremium $305, monthly Rx drugs cost +$350.

 murphysblues: #mypremium – to repeat (and correct): I pay just under $300/mo. for an indiv. plan w/a $5k deductible – gd. health care? Puhleese!

 ceut: .#mypremium I pay $250/mon w/ high co-pays. Employer, a non-profit, pays more than $5K/mo for 5 employees. HCR bill will force us to keep it

 JohnAmussen: So #myPremium is $435/mo w/a $2500 deductible & no dental/vision. This replaces a plan w/ $500 deductible at $957/mo.

 Aew1: #myPremium $478 monthly with $3000 deductible (per person) Regence Blueshield sucks! but so do the other individ ins. options WA state

 Telly222: RT @Shoq I pay over $320 a month for a crappy 80/20 plan with $1500 deductible. Such a deal! #MyPremium #p2 #hcr #publicOption

 From those whose premiums are outrageously high:

 Shannon_Ahern: I pay almost $1K/mo 4 BlueShield PPO (so we can KEEP R dr!) w/2K annual deductbl EACH&co-pays on ALL visits. #MyPremium #p2 (pls tag yours)

 mttsm: #mypremium $1200 a month. family of 8. Copays $25 and $50, medication costs for asthmatic kids $500 a month

 kristiewells: .@queenofspain @shoq: Me+Hubby (aged 41 & 40). No kids. Healthy. Independent consultants. $760/mo on HMO (incl vision+dental). #myPremium

 thewvp: #myPremium Family of 4. Full coverage+Life Insurance=$10,492.08 Annually.

 VDog: @QueenofSpain Since the huz just went self-employed our COBRA will be $1225/mo for huz, me, son – NO vision/dental #myPremium

 Pat120: #myPremium Just under $25,000/yr for three of us, family plan – self-employed

 janelane: #myPremium// $965 mo. 1 person. Was over $1000 mo so increased ded. to $5000.

 paulaivins: @Shoq $1800 mo for family, $2k ded, 10 to 20k in debt to hospital. increase every yr in Dec due to son’s leukemia #myPremium