Friday, August 31, 2007

Open mouth insert foot..................

A few days ago a friend of mine sent me a detailed report of his latest trail run. I am always telling him that he should write a book because he has a wonderful style of writing and story telling. In his description of the remote place in which the race was held he wrote the following sentence: "__________ is smaller than tiny." Don't you love that? The depth of description in that simplicity boggles my mind.

So what does "smaller than tiny" look like? Ever see a twenty-eight week premature baby? How about a sliver of glass or wood stuck in the tip of your finger? Oh! And how about the print on an over the counter medication bottle? All smaller than tiny don't ya think?

I had an encounter today, that would fall into this description. Such a non-blip on my radar screen that when a third party called to ask me about it my memory had to be jogged for me to recall the event. Apparently, to the other party, this event was anything but smaller than tiny. Maybe even larger than huge. To her anyway. So, the loving, right thing to do is honor her right to feel the way she does. Whether or not the way she is feeling is the opposite of my intentions, it is her reality. Regrets and an apology have been extended.

One more example of the fact that we never know how our words and/or actions are going to be taken by another. Though this time an action that meant nothing to me was taken negatively, there have been just as many times that an action that I didn't think twice about has made a wonderful, positive world of difference. I guess if I were to state a goal regarding all of this it would be to try and rack up a greater number of positive encounters than negative ones.

I am saddened by the fact that this person did not feel able to let me know the impact my action had on her. Had she been able to do that, the matter could have been cleared up and I could have offered her forgiveness face to face. It is not my place to speculate as to why she did not speak up for herself, but I would like to encourage anyone out that is feeling hurt or wronged to do so. As hard as it might be to speak up for yourself, it is often the only chance one has of resolving the conflict and moving forward with the relationship. Especially if the other person truly doesn't know they have caused harm. As convenient as it might be at times (most especially Christmas and one's birthday) most of us are not mind readers and need a little help from our friends to stay on track from time to time. And as you can see from this post, some of us might need more help than others. Thanks third party.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

You know this is for you, and you know what it's for.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Feeling a rant commin on........................

I have been away from blog land while I played at being a Leading Lady racer (South Dakota half-marathon) and a panel expert on senior care. While I'm not sure that either title is really correct I did have a blast at both events and feel blessed to have participated in them. So why the rant? Well, let me share...

Remember my surgery last December? Well I got word a couple of months ago that the insurance company was not going to pay for the operating room/hospital services in conjunction with the surgery. They paid the surgeon's fee and all the tests and other things that went along with the procedure, but said the operating room was not a covered benefit. And here I was thinking back alley operations were neither sanitary or legal! Anyway, this nice lady from the hospital told me I might want to contact the insurance company and request they reconsider so I was not stuck with a bill for $17,897.24.

I won't trouble you with all of the details, but I did contact the insurance company, got copies of all the medical records, wrote a detailed letter of why the surgery was reconstructive and NOT cosmetic in nature, and sent them before and after pictures to substantiate rashes and pain associated with the need for surgery. Oh! And I put in my letter how puzzling it was to me that they would consider the surgeon's services a covered benefit, but not the operating room in which he was required to provide those services in a covered benefit. A nice way of saying, "GET WITH THE PROGRAM PEOPLE!

On Saturday I got a letter from the insurance company telling me they had reviewed the claim and "the services are payable." The letter went on to state, "A payment of $8,555.84 will be sent to the provider within two weeks. With this payment, we have paid 100 percent of the approved amounts for these services." And this folks is the subject of my rant...

Upon contacting the billing supervisor at the hospital ( to make sure I was not understanding things wrong) I learned that BCBS has a contract with the hospital that allows them to pay this reduced amount. Had they determined the services were not payable or (God forbid) I didn't have insurance I would have been responsible for close to an $18,000.00 bill. And the insurance companies wonder why ordinary people such as myself feel they have some kind of a racket going. If the hospital is willing to provide care for $8,555.84 with a certain insurance policy in place why in the world can they not be willing to provide the same care for the same amount to anyone in need of it?

Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that I do not have to pay that bill, but I am having a hard time understanding why the above picture is the best thing for us common folks. Had I called the hospital and ask for a reduced rate before surgery my guess is they would have either refused, or at the very least waited to see if I would come up with the full amount before settling for a lesser amount. And what if this surgery had been one of life or death? What choice would there have been but to either sign my life away, or else sign away my life savings (if I had them) and/or a good chunk of my future income for years into the future. Because I am not a huge corporation with lots of lobbyist and employees to help me bend the system to my benefit? How can that be right?

My plan B, had the insurance company not paid this claim was to make small payments and quickly save up eight or nine thousand dollars and offer the hospital a settlement, sure they would take it. Had things gone this way they still would have gotten more money from me than they agreed to take from the insurance company. And what if I was not in a position in which I could save up thousands in a reasonable amount of time? Not that long ago I couldn't scrape up an extra twenty bucks a month, and I know there are many people for which that is true today. Then what does one do?

If you are sitting out there with a huge medical bill, wondering how you are ever going to pay it off, use the above formula (that my insurance company paid) as a starting point in your negotiations towards getting your bill reduced. If it is good enough for BCBS, it is certainly good enough for you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Making a difference through the act of receiving.........................

One of my residents has visual impairments so when she receives mail I read it out loud to her. Yesterday, she got a newsletter from her church. In one section it was talking about a workshop they are having to uncover the spiritual gifts of the congregation so that they might take an inventory of these gifts that can then be utilized to assist the congregation, the community, and the world.

My resident has a hard time getting out so she won't be attending the workshop. I ask her what she felt her spiritual gifts were and without hesitation she told me she felt she had a gift for praying. I offered to help her compose a letter to the pastor so she might be put on the inventory list of member's gifts.

As we were working on the letter it occurred to me that she had another really great gift to contribute. That is the gift of being a gracious receiver of those people that have a gift of service in the form of visiting the housebound. This might sound strange but trust me, not everyone is happy to be visited by a "service" visitor. It is hard for lots of us to receive if we have spent most of our lives focusing on being a giver. If one used to be on the visiting the housebound side and finds themselves no longer able to do so it can be a major cause of depression and and cause one to turn away from interacting with others. Not only is my resident happy to receive visitors she is great at conveying her gratitude for the smallest of things. This translates into the giver feeling really blessed by their act of service. A win/win situation if ever there was one.

As a society we focus on the doing/giving. We have Make a Difference Day, and more volunteer programs than one can count. Don't get me wrong, I think these programs are needed to encourage and coordinate the services, I just think that as we are participating in them we need to remember not to lose sight as to the fact that it is not always easy to receive. If a string of unfortunate circumstances places you in financial need when you have always managed to take care of yourself it will be hard to walk into that food bank or shelter. Remember to pay honor to the person that is providing you the opportunity to serve, as well as the rewards that you will receive through serving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gifts of the enemy.........................

If you are in the mood to challenge yourself, pick up a copy of the book Observing Sprite, By: Peter Rhodes. This is what I just finished reading from the book:

"The Work says that the people that can really help us are those whom we do not like. We can wonder from a Work point of view, "Why is it that I don't like those people? Why are my feelings about them so negative?"... One way is to observe a person you do not like and try to find a similar state within yourself. Imagine yourself in the shoes of that person and search for a time when you felt that way, looked that way, or spoke that way. If you see that person doing something that you feel you would never do, look for it in yourself. Look for something similar, like emotion, thought, or habit, that perhaps expresses itself in a different way. Your dislike is showing you something about yourself. It is a mirror for you." (NOTE: "The Work" is a program of spiritual practice.)

How easy it is to see ourselves in a light that we admire. No so easy to admit we can also be capable of the very things we despise. What do I do when I hear someone complaining about the way things are? Complain to (my) Mister about their complaining of course! Just because I am careful about who I complain to doesn't make it okay to do so.

Another thing that lights a fire in me are people that absolutely, positively know EVERYTHING there is to know about a given subject, have nothing to learn from you, and are quick to make it known that their way is the ONLY way something should be done. Yet, when it comes to my business, and the way I insist on things being done in regards to my business (as well as other select areas of my life) I could be a poster child for the previous statement.

To just sit with the idea that the very things that drive me bonkers are the things I most need to address within myself was a light bulb moment for me. To invite this notion in was growth, as the first step to change is acknowledging the need for it.

What are your triggers? What negative things would you love to rid the world of? How do these negatives play out in your relationships? Which ones might you be able to work on?

Just a little food for thought...Take with a grain of salt, or sugar coat it, but let me know what you think after you digest it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Above is the last of the thirteen "grim reaper" outfits I sewed for the movie. Pretty creepy looking isn't it? Good thing thirteen is my lucky number!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My fifteen minutes of fame..................................

One of the reasons I have been lax about blogging is because BIG things have been happening in my world. I actually started writing this post the day before yesterday, and am just now getting back to it.

Back in January the newspaper started a year long series about senior citizens. At that time they requested people with thoughts or ideas regarding seniors write in and share. NO WAY could I pass up an opportunity to share my opinion so I sent off an e-mail and heard nothing back until a couple of weeks ago when a gentleman from the paper contacted me about an interview on the part of the series regarding housing options for seniors.

When he came out for the interview I had a respite resident and the reporter loved the story angle about the way this couple was able to keep promises made to one another years ago through the availability of respite care. I LOVED the notion that the word would get out about the concept of respite care in general.

A few days after the interview the phone rang and it was a different person from the paper asking me to take part in an open forum town hall meeting regarding the same topic, senior housing options. Quote, "_____ from the _____ told me you have a great passion for the subject and he thought you would be an ideal person to have on the panel." Flattered beyond belief, my response was, "Passion is kind of an understatement. Do you have a cowbell or something to shut me up because once I get going I sometimes don't know when to stop." She wanted me anyway!

A miner rub to this whole thing is the date of the meeting is a date I had planned to be in CO on my way to a half-marathon in South Dakota. A few travel plan changes later along with an amazing offer of assistance from Random and it was worked out so I can do both. Let me stop here a second and interject that if you don't run you really should consider taking it up if for no other reason that the great friendships it will bring into your life. I have yet to meet a runner that isn't a kind, considerate, go out of their way to help a fellow human being out without thinking twice about it, kind of person. "My" Random is all that and more!

So back to my stardom... I get to share my ideas about quality senior care. If any of you have ever been in the situation of needing to find just the right fit for an aging parent you know how hard it can be to weed through the system. How great would it be if we could design a way to narrow the field a bit to make things easier? What a great thing to be a part of.

And then, two nights ago, the phone rang and it was a reporter from the area weekly paper and he wanted to interview me about the dog park. I am waiting to hear if the Parks Committee got the okay from the city to give us the land, but this is a great opportunity to get the word out to people that might be interested in helping to design and keep the park going when we do get the land. Like I told the reporter, "I want as much input as possible, because I don't want this to be my dog park, but the communities dog park, and the more people that get involved the greater the chances that the final product will be a place that lots of people and dogs will have lots of good times at."

And don't forget that movie credit I am going to have for sewing the costumes for the movie that is being filmed in our town. I wonder if they will put a black mark through my name if I don't have time to finish the last two still sitting in the corner staring accusatorily at me each and every time I walk by them on my way to do something else?

Don't worry, I have no big plans of changing up my life from the way it currently is. I have not (yet) begun to look for homes in Hollywood or search the net for a publicist. My feet remain firmly planted on the ground of my ordinary life, and there really is no other life I can think of that is better than mine, or that I would rather be living.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pay attention people..................................

A couple of posts ago I shared the lengths I went to for fifty cents. Random wrote a comment in which she posed the question "Do you know how much money the bank would be making if they did that to every single account?" Exactly! Lots of people don't pay attention to every single statement they receive, or have the time to check out every little mistake. This translates to profit for the company. Here is my latest example:

My youngest never had any desire to have her own phone, but once she started diving around for work needed one. A month or so ago we added her to our plan. I will plead ignorance here, when they were setting up the plan the guy went over how I was getting twenty dollar charges and then twenty dollar credits until the point where I just quit listening. The first bill was in line with the old bill so I didn't inspect it. Have you ever tried to read one of those things? We have Nextel, and three phones. The bill is nine pages long and broken up in so many different ways that a rocket scientist would have trouble understanding it.

This month, my bill jumped from low hundred dollars to one hundred forty-five dollars. I have to say my first thought was "the kid had used too many minutes chatting with her friends and she is going to have a nice phone bill to pay. In order to understand exactly where the charges came from before giving her the bill I called the company to get help understanding the bill. The very nice woman I talked with looked at our plan and found that my daughter's phone was not on our family plan, and this is what had raised the bill. I LOVE that she was honest when her response to, "Well, how did this happen when I had requested that all three phones be put on the plan," with "Trying to figure that out would give both of us a BIG headache!" We just moved on and through the magic of credits I won't know what my real bill will be for another two statements.

My point is to say it does pay off to take the time to read your bill statements beyond the "amount due." If you don't understand the bill call the company and make them do their job. The money you save just might translate into your next vacation. I got back $45.50 in less than one week.
Thai Massage Class..................................

As promised (better late than never) here is the final installment of my trip to Chicago.

The class consisted mostly of massage therapist, and while I had not really thought about who might be in the class, this fact is not really surprising is it? What also shouldn't surprise me, but does every time is how quickly everyone bonded and became a working group. When you are doing and receiving bodywork it is hard not to connect with one another. The instructor helped this along by having everyone pick a new partner each time we broke to practice. This "forced" out of the comfort zone of sticking with the same new buddy quickly and fostered comfort with all.

In case any of you teach bodywork the other thing that I found to be a fabulous learning tool was what the instructor called "practicing flow." He would demonstrate a technique on one person, get a second volunteer and demonstrate it again (which is great with bodywork since we are not a people of one size and shape) and once we had learned three or four techniques, he had us practice them flowing from one to the next in sequence without actually taking the time to do the bodywork. Unbelievably by the end of eighteen hours every person in the class was able to complete a full hour massage from memory, flowing from one move to the next leaving the recipient feeling as relaxed as an overcooked noodle.

There was huge emphasis placed on proper body mechanics so this technique is beneficial to both the therapist and the client. Again, for those of you that do massage, you know how hard it can be on your body, especially your wrists and hands. The way the class was taught the therapist positions themselves so they are using their body weight to provide the pressure rather than their muscles and joints. I went first in getting a massage. When it was over I could hardly bring myself to move off the mat and had no idea how I was going to give a massage, let alone get up and drive four hours home. After I finished giving a massage I felt revived and full of energy. Amazing!

Had I sat down and wrote out how I wanted the entire weekend to go, I could never had come up with as wonderful a plan as what unfolded. Going into the weekend with the wonder and excitement of what I was going to receive opened me to receiving blessings beyond belief. I am changed for the better after last weekend, and who could ask for more than that from a continuing education class. Getting the needed CEUs was just the icing on the cake.