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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Damn the torpedoes

As I was preparing to write today's post the famous 1864 quote from Navy Admiral David Farragot popped into my mind. It was of course, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

After reflecting on yesterday's post, regarding my upcoming birthday and the completion of 7 DNA cycles, the quote seemed to be a perfect fit. It represents clear thinking and determined action. Exactly where I desire to be.

My question to myself is, What did you learn from the experiences of the last seven years?

The answer is, to stop giving my life away to people who want to live it for me. I have repeatedly transferred my power to others, causing me to think of them as god like, thus becoming dependent on them. The second concept I have mastered through many hurtful experiences is one suggested by my thoughtful friend, John R., who is now a local minister. After reading a manuscript I had written he said, "I see in your writings both sides of the spiritual. I believe you need to present your insights, thoughts and beliefs as you have done, but you must stop short of attempting to impose on others and attempt to conform them to your will."

I believe the number one thing I have gained during the last 7 years is confidence; in my writing, my life and most importantly as an independent thinking person. That is why the quote "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" fits like a glove!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The beginning or the end?

In two days I will be completing eleven seven year cycles of my life. In celebration of this event I am sharing an excerpt from my yet to be published book, Journey of an Enlightened Egotist. This particular portion was written in 2007, when I thought it might be the end. It was only the beginning of another seven year stretch for growth.

It is now past Thanksgiving, but not yet Christmas and the end of 2007. I have just celebrated my 70th birthday and this year will mark the completion of ten seven year birth/death cycles. Scientists now know that every 7 years our bodies go through a complete change, including DNA. No doubt this occurs to put us in the right physical and mental place for new experiences. Just for fun check off your life in 7 year segments and note what happened.

This cycle is my biggest growth spurt so far. I have tuned in to my own belief system and developed my own philosophy. Although many have contributed to my success in their own way my journey has been a singular experience.

As I stand on the edge of a new cycle I wonder what the universe has in store for me. Is this the beginning or the end? Or somewhere in between?

I do not remember the life I helped program before this body and soul became one. I realize that a certain amount of amnesia is a necessary ingredient for human growth. Knowing challenges in advance of experiencing them would be like having the answers to a test before it is taken. Nothing new would be learned.

As the hands of the clock came close to striking midnight on December 31, 2007 I felt a little nervous that my physical life could end at any moment. Healthy people die every day of an unexpected stroke or heart attack.

I had good reason to feel this way. Years ending in the number seven have been land mark dates in my biological family. The year I was born 1937, my paternal grandfather died. My paternal grandmother died in 1957, my father in 1967 and my mother in 1987. On the other side of the coin, my paternal grandfather and maternal great grandmother were both born in 1867 and my maternal grandfather in 1887.

Since the proverbial ball dropped at midnight and I am still here I apparently have more time to inhabit this place called earth. Quite possibly many more years if I consciously choose experiences that evolve my soul. That is my goal for the next cycle of this physical life- and beyond.

That was then and this is now, seven years later and I am again at what could be the end or the beginning. I am choosing the latter as my intuition tells me I still have more stuff to do and learn.

Note: This post was partially written as a thank you to my friend and fellow author, Sadie Lydon, who recently read my manuscript and found this portion the most moving. We also decided to change the title to An Enlightened Egotist. Perhaps 2015 will be the year it is finally published!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Leftovers

For me the best part of Thanksgiving dinner, after the stuffing, is the leftovers.

This morning I tossed the carcass in a large pot and boiled the life out of it capturing all those scrumptious juices left by the clinging meat. While it cooled I added a little more canned broth to the pot. It was then time to toss in a hand full of leftover wagon wheel pasta and chopped onion and whatever spices came to mind.

I plucked so much meat off the carcass that I didn't even have to touch the leftover turkey that had been carved last night. The last step to turn my pot into a tasty meal was to toss in a bag full of miscellaneous vegetables I had previously frozen.

There you have it- turkey soup for lunch.

Later on I will make a turkey casserole with egg noodles, peas, mushrooms, cream soup and of course leftover turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Food for thought

Here comes that holiday again that sometimes offers more food than anyone should consume in a single meal. Thanksgiving is also a time for reflection of the past, offering food for thought.

For the last few major holidays I have celebrated alone, with the exception of my fur children. Sometimes our animals are the best companions as they don't point fingers and bring up painful memories.

Even though I have been alone these past few years I have still cooked a turkey, with not so many side dishes. This year will be different because my oldest son will be sharing the turkey with me. Of my three children he is the one who really appreciates the effort I use to make the meal special. I am grateful for his feedback and his presence.

On the menu this year I am bringing back a delicious cranberry salad that my son and I found several years ago and I would like to share it with my readers. It is very simple and can be made ahead.

The ingredients are 2 packages cranberry jello (or cherry), 1 can whole cranberries, 1 can crushed pineapple, 1 small package frozen strawberries, 2 cups boiling water. Dissolve the jello in the water and add the rest of the ingredients. Chill and enjoy. That's it!

I hope you all have a fantastic peaceful Thanksgiving, spending your time being grateful for the blessings you have been given today!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Judge not etc. etc.

In the mail I recently received a district court jury summons. I was not pleased! As I read down the long list of information on the form I noticed that because of my age I could apply for a permanent release and would never receive this summons again. I did not hesitate to follow the directions to make this happen.

First I downloaded from nmgov.com the proper form needed to fill out, noting that I would need to take it to be notarized. No big deal as it is free and in the building next to the one housing District Court.

This morning I took care of that little job, parking in front of that building. Next I walked around to the back of the building, which was actually some distance from where I needed to drop off the form. There is no opening connecting the two. I left my car in front of building #1. Yesterday's wind had stopped and it was a nice morning so I figured the walk would count as exercise.

Arriving in the court building I then had to wait in line to sign in and go through the security process. Finally arriving at the front of the line I was told to put my purse in a machine to my right. Oh wait! I was first asked if it contained a cell phone. Unfortunately for me it did.

I was then instructed to put the phone in my car. Excuse me, but my car is on the other side of this building, on another street even!

In response I was told, "Walk to your car, put the cell phone in the car and drive around to the front of this building: your car will be much closer when you leave."

My response, although I am not sure it was audible was "Oh crap!"

I did what I was told, but left my purse, containing the offending cell phone, in the car. At the last minute I tucked my drivers license in my pocket in case I needed identification when and if I finally reached district court. Next I re-entered the building, this time successfully getting through the security scan. There was one little problem, because I had forgotten to remove my watch. That granted me a dirty look from the officer in charge before I was on my way to my destination!

I had a really creepy feeling as I moved down the hall, which was strewn with people apparently waiting for court dates and or trials. I was certainly glad that I am a law abiding citizen and was only there to drop off a form. I found the window I had long since been seeking, pushed the form through to the clerk and my mission was almost complete.

I was relieved when she said at last, "You are excused".

Was it worth it you might ask? My answer is yes because I no longer have a desire to judge anyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A new job

One just never knows from one day to the next what we are going to be asked to do. My new job for the next 10 days or so is to care for my son's dog, Leia, while he is at work. It is not a job I asked for, but I don't seem to have much choice.

The above photo is Leia shortly before she and my son moved in with me last June. Due to a lack of a job for her master she had not been groomed for a long time. Her hair had grown to an unsightly mess. With the addition of a paycheck my son took her to my groomers. The groomer discovered a large tumor on her shoulder and decided it was best to pretty much shave her fur off. My son was not thrilled because he said, "You aren't supposed to do that with a Sheltie." Hopefully her fur will grow back and she will soon look like her old self.

That night she decided to start scratching the tumor. OMG what a mess! We had blood everywhere. It looked like she had been in a terrible car accident. We aren't sure why she suddenly started scratching, but suspect that she may have been allergic to the shampoo the groomer used. We set up a triage station with a bath towel on my kitchen table. We finally managed to clean her up and did the best we could to cover the tumor with gauze and wound a stretch bandage around her body to try to stop the bleeding.

Yesterday morning she had surgery to remove the tumor. Between having her fur shaved off and the surgery Leia has had quite a traumatic experience. I feel sorry for her, but all I can do is try to keep her quiet and comfortable. Today I purchased a package of child's stretch socks to have ready to tape to her back paw if and when she starts scratching the healing wound. I'm sure it's going to itch eventually.

I never thought I would have a job as a canine nurse, but it will be an interesting addition to my resume!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

You and your life

A few days ago a quote from author Neale Donald Walsh passed by that I have been thinking about ever since. It was,"Your life has nothing to do with you. It has to do with everyone whose life you touch."

At first I agreed with the quote and then I saw that there was one word I don't agree with. That word is "everyone". I think it should be "everything", which would include all things that breath; such as animals and plants.

My thoughts wondered to, what if one lived in a cave? Possibly the only living things one might touch in that situation are not human. Would that count? I think it would.

My next thought was remembering a favorite movie, Cast Away. Tom Hanks had a very real relationship for four years with a volleyball he named Wilson. Does that count? I think it does because every existing thing in the universe has energy and therefore is alive.

Next my mind wondered on to Jane Goodall, who has spent much of her life living with and studying the relationships of primates. Wow that certainly counts!

Thinking of my own life I probably have a more loving relationship with my rescue dog Ejay than with a lot of humans. The reason no doubt is that he accepts me for who I am. He knows from experience that I will treat him well and is perfectly content to be sharing my life with me. Of course, he would be a little happier if I were to get rid of my two cats, but that is his problem and they were here first!

All things considered I am sticking with my assessment of the quote; the word should be everything not everyone.

Ejay and my other favorite being, my grandson Colin, both of whom accept me for who I am not for who they want me to be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I surrender

This post is going to be about my experience with Medicare so if you aren't interested I advise you to walk on by and read something more to your liking.

I'm starting with a quote from my long time, recently retired, dermatologist Dr.Chapman. On my last visit to him he was concerned that I have no medical insurance or Medicare B and his comment was, "Eventually your warranty is going to run out."

It seems that the universe just keeps popping out challenges until we finally get the message that it is time to act. After my recent experience in the emergency room, which ran up an unbelievable hospital bill of over $5,000, I got the message. Perhaps because I did get the message I was informed last night that the hospital has decided to write off that entire amount. Another unbelievable occurrence, which I am extremely grateful for.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours talking to a Medicare/Medicaid representative who convinced me that my best option for health insurance was to enroll in Medicare B in January 2015. Once I do that there is a Medicaid plan (SLIMB) that could pick up the monthly premium if my income doesn't go over $12,093. In my case Medicare will tack on a penalty for late enrollment of $125.88 per month in addition to the $104.90 premium that everyone pays so I would qualify for this plan. That's a total of $230.80, deducted from my meager Social Security check monthly.

Unfortunately, in my case, nothing will wipe out the penalty. It will be there for the rest of my life. It could have fallen under special circumstances if during the 12 years since I became eligible for B I would have had insurance through an employer. All the jobs I had were part time and did not offer insurance.

What all this boils down to is Dr. Chapman was right, it looks as if my warranty has run out and it is time to apply for Medicare B, as a gift to myself in January 2015. I surrender!!

Note: This post was written simply to share my experience with Medicare so that it might help someone else. It is not a request for sympathy. What happened is due to a decision I made back in 2002 and I take full responsibility for the consequences.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stressing out

It has been one week since my unexpected visit to the emergency room due to an episode of extremely high blood pressure. After tests, no reason could be found for this happening and my primary care person simply increased my BP medication and suggested, "Don't worry. Do I look worried?". My answer was, "You never look worried!" A couple of days later a friend shared advice from her doctor which was: take your reading once a day and forget about it, which I have been doing this week. It has been staying in the same range, but higher than I would like it to be. I am trying to take the attitude that it is what it is- for now. I have a follow-up appointment in a month.

Not knowing whether the unusual problem is being caused by something physical or mental is in turn causing me stress. It is easy to take a pill as a band aide, but I want to know what is going on. Realizing that the stress isn't helping one little bit I looked back at my research on the subject to see what I can do to help stay calm. Besides drinking more water, walking etc. I have been concentrating on breathing exercises. I know I have shared the following information in the past, but I thought I would do it again in the hope that it can help someone else.

Exercise #1 (4-7-8)

Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper teeth and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth and around your tongue. Exhale completely through your mouth. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat the sequence 3 more times.

Exercise #2 (breath counting)

Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Breathe naturally, quiet and slow. Count 1 to yourself as you exhale. The next time you exhale count 2 and so on up to 5. Then begin a new cycle. Try to do this exercise for 10 minutes.

A fun exercise from a friend is "take three breaths, say something nice about yourself, smile and take another breath." You can keep going until you run out of nice things to say about yourself!

Another friend shared this wonderful quote from a yoga master: "Inhale and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation and God remains with you. Exhale and you approach God. Hold the exhalation and surrender to God."

I also found this appropriate piece written by Leo Babauta: "Breathe. Breathing can transform your life. If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm and release the tensions."

One last quote from the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy, "The breath of God was his breath, yet though it pass from man to man through all time."

That's all I have to offer today dear readers, I'm off to breathe and hopefully stop stressing out!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A guided tour

Lately I have been reading a lot of fiction about family relationships. It has been an interesting experience. Even though the lives I read about were made up by the talented authors, the experiences did make me think about my own family dynamics. Stuff happens in any family and it can either be swept under the rug and kept secret for generations or it can be dealt with at the time.

Something odd happened yesterday which started with a quote I found by Maya Angelou: "One isn't necessarily born with courage. Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest."

The quote had such a powerful impact that I first flipped through some other quotes of hers. Suddenly I was hooked. I wanted to know what other works she might have written and checked her out on Amazon.com, where I found and purchased I Know Why Caged Birds Sing. The book is the first volume of her memoirs, written at age 41. She went on to live another 45 years.

I am about half way through the book and I love it. I always knew that she was a woman with a beautiful soul, but through her words I am understanding how that happened. I found another quote this morning submitted by her family, which added to my view. "Maya Angelou (4/4/28-5/19/14) has taken flight. Let her rise, but hold fast to her words. We now have to learn to speak with clarity and beauty for ourselves."

I am grateful for whatever guided me to read Ms. Angelou's book not only because it is so well written with tiny drops of humor that I dearly love, but because I learned so many true facts about a culture I knew little about. I basically grew up in the State of Washington and didn't meet a negro until I was an adult.

Although Our life experiences have been totally different, because of this guided tour, I can relate to the courage it took to hold her head up, tell her story and move on with the rest of her life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's not all bad

This morning I kept my mammogram appointment with my very favorite Cibola General Hospital technician, Nicky. It is the only thing I get free because of my income and the fact that I don't have insurance. Since it runs several hundred dollars I'm not about to pass it up.

While I was a patient in the emergency room Sunday night, Arnold, another radiologist took chest x-rays. I jokingly tried to get him to do the mammogram while he was at it, after all it was in the same area- sort of. He declined, but thought I was funny.

After taking care of registration this morning I walked over to the radiology window to check in. Who was the first person I saw and waved at? Yup Arnold who shouted, "taking care of that mammo I see!" By the time I connected with Nicky he had already shared our experience from Sunday, which gave us another chance to laugh about it.

As my previous post stated it is wonderful living in a small town with a friendly hospital staff, who make me feel that it's not all bad.

The truth shall set you free

Honesty has always been #1 with me and this time simply stating the truth paid off. Facing a huge emergency room bill the first thing I did was call the hospital finance office and ask for guidance. Explaining that I had no insurance or Medicare B and my only income is Social Security, I was told to bring proof/receipts of monthly bills etc. that I pay and fill out a brief form and they would see what they could do. Learning from a previous experience I knew the first step was to make this call. We learn as we go.

Cibola General Hospital has a wonderful staff and that includes those working in the business office. I am grateful to live in a small town with a smaller facility because in addition to being less expensive I feel the care is more compassionate. It feels like home. My personal experience is that in a larger hospital a patient is just a number on a chart.

Following instructions, my visit to the financial office yesterday turned out much better than I ever expected. They are going to wipe out the hospital portion of the bill. Of course, I still have to deal with the doctor and x-ray portion. I am going to take the same approach with them and see what they can do. I'm keeping a positive attitude.

For those people who are quick to judge and are wondering why I don't have Medicare B let me explain. When I first became eligible in 2002 my income was so little I simply could not afford it and being basically healthy I put it off. Now Medicare wants to charge me a penalty of $125.88 per month on top of the $104.90 that everyone else is paying to add B. That would be forever and would reduce my Social Security benefit to an amount impossible to live on. I have checked other insurance options and haven't found anything not connected to Medicare. I was given some new information by the hospital that I will check on.

I'm sure I can't be the only person in America facing this kind of problem. When those in authority issue an order they seldom have the vision/wisdom to see how it could affect people in my situation. Oh well, all I can do is tell the truth!

Monday, November 3, 2014

A scary situation

I had a fun experience yesterday. My blood pressure decided to act up and this time it did such a wonderful job that it landed me in the emergency room for four hours, connected to various devices, while the staff tried to discover what caused the upset.

I had taken readings several times during the day and each time it went higher than the last. Each time it went higher it also raised my anxiety level, which in turn added to the problem. By the time my son took me to the emergency room the systolic number was over 200. Why these scary situations always seem to happen on the weekend when a primary care doctor isn't available is beyond me. Perhaps it is a test to see just how much we can actually deal with.

Anyway after an EKG, blood work and a chest x-ray no reason was found for the elevation. I did find out that my heart, kidneys and liver are all in good shape. That's going to be a hell of an expensive physical when I get the hospital bill, especially since I will be paying it entirely on my own.

As I curled up under my own covers last night I said a prayer of gratitude that I had not had a stroke or heart attack and that because of a capable hospital staff my reading eventually went down to a normal number, the assistance of my son and most of all that I was not admitted as a patient. I was told to increase my current medication and follow up with my own doctor to discuss my medication.

I still have no clue what caused the problem, but I do know that my own fearful thoughts made it worse than it needed to be. It happened and I just have to let it go and believe that some miracle will take care of the bill that at the moment I have no way of paying. I know scary situations help us grow, but come on guys this is really enough!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A family affair

It's over thank you very much! My muscles are sore this morning from working at the family center Halloween Carnival last night. Age plus repetitive motions for three hours straight don't mix. For the first time my grandson and daughter also volunteered. They were assigned to the haunted house and were out of sight most of the night.

Although it is fun mingling with the little people in their special attire I do believe this will be my last year helping with this event. It is time to turn it over to younger members of my family. Being a role model is hard work, especially when it takes people so long to catch on to the fact that they can do it too. Congratulations to my family- they finally got it!