Saturday, May 28, 2016

Dreaming big...

Awhile ago, Alex put the idea in my head that maybe we should buy a house or a condo. I've been thinking about that a lot. I think I take a look at the local homes for sale ads about three times a week now. If you had asked me a year ago or so I would have told you it was impossible but now I feel ready. I feel we are in a good place for it both mentally and financially. Well, financially we still have a little savings to do but we're on the way and this is a big dream that I know will happen sooner rather than later.

Another happy side note to this big dream is that when we do get our own place we will be able to get a dog. I know that sounds so funny and almost childlike but I have wanted a dog for so long now. And just like the time I spend looking at homes for sale I also look at dogs available for adoption.

I'm feeling very grown up and responsible. And also very ready to move on with life.

That's really good!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A woman of a certain age...

That's me. A woman of a certain age. I always wondered what I would be like when I was older and now - here I am - older. Not old, just older.

I have a pretty amazing life. I have a husband that is unparalleled when it comes to being the best husband in the world. Seriously, I would put him up against anyone in that category. He does so much and I know that sometimes that stresses him out but I hope he always knows how much I love and appreciate him for everything he does. He is, quite simply, the best.

My job is pretty good too though I admit I'm kind of over the whole getting up and going to work thing. Really, I would love to retire sometime soon. I'm not burned out and when I work I give it my all but there is other stuff I would love to do and having to adhere to a daily schedule of someone else's making is tedious to me.

My family is, of course, awesome. I know I have been blessed with an amazing support system and the fact that we are so close is brilliant.

I guess I am comfortable at my age. I'm confident that I know what I do is important and that I am competent in what I do. I know people come to me for advice and guidance because they know I understand how this stuff works and I will always be honest and supportive. I have cultivated a kind of wisdom, I think. That's funny! I never thought I would have that but I do! Wisdom. I see younger woman who work with me trying to inch their way in and doing it in a way that, though temporarily puts them in a good light, always inevitably ends with their true colors showing. Woman spending too much time trying to impress the management and not enough time just doing their jobs. And sometimes, those same women, try to place an unflattering spotlight on me to get their needs met.

Being a woman of a certain age, I am also very level headed and being confident in my own abilities, I never allow their actions to make me question my own worth or competencies. And, much to their dismay, that attitude goes a long way to impress my own boss. Oh, the drama-rama!

Yes, at a certain age, the need for drama goes away. Life becomes deeper and better and you just get on with it. They will learn it too as we all have to. I have to admit, it's kind of fun watching it from the other side.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

That feeling you get when you really, really, really want something....

I remember when I was a little girl going into a store called Wilson's at Christmas with my Dad. They had this huge display of toys and it was AMAZING!! Every possible toy a kid could want. Every toy that was being advertised on TV. It was all there. But the one toy that caught my eye was the most beautiful walking doll. She had long straight brunette hair and wore a blue dress with flowers on it. She was about three feet tall and if you held her hand she would actually walk next to you. I wanted that doll more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. I dragged my Dad over to her to show him and made sure he knew how much it would mean to me to get that doll. But we weren't there to buy toys that day so, sadly, I went home without her. Still, I thought of her every day and wished secretly that Santa would somehow know how much I wanted her. Imagine my surprise when Christmas morning came and there she was under our tree!

Now, I am having much the same feelings about something else. A dog. I want a dog so badly it's become almost an obsession. I spend at least an hour each night looking at adoptable dogs on line and wishing and hoping that one day soon I will be able to have one. The thing is, right now, I live in an apartment that doesn't allow dogs. I'm not real picky about the kind of dog I get either. I know I will adopt one from a rescue or a shelter, never buy one from a breeder or pet store. I like them big or small, hairy or smooth. Doesn't really matter to me! Dogs have such great personalities that I'm sure whatever it looks like, it will be great!

I just really, really want a dog. I want it soon! I wish someone would surprise me with a dog!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Life...or something like it...

I don't remember what I thought my life would be like back when I was a kid. I know I had a lot of big dreams and all of them were probably unrealistically focused on being famous for something or other. I'm sure that was my way of just wanting to be somehow different and special. As I grew up, those feelings changed. I think because I started to realized I was pretty okay the way I was.

These days, I feel a lot of need for change. I had a strange, brief brush with my own mortality at the end of last year and I'm watching my sister fighting the battle of her lifetime right now. As I see this and as I ponder what I went through, I start to feel restless. Like there is something more to life than this 9 to 5 or, in my case, 7 to 4 existence. I feel a little removed from my passion.

Then again, what is my passion? Now that's a good question...

I love the people I serve in my job. I work with services for people who are diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness. They are, by far, some of the most interesting, courageous people I have ever met. And there is so much we, as a society, should learn from them and do for them. So, I guess that part of my job is one of my passions. But I am also far removed from them too because I am in an office all the time being an administrator. I don't doubt that what I do has some importance but it is not as close to the people as it once was when I was case managing.

I also love animals. I would love to run an animal rescue and take care of those animals that others have discarded. I believe strongly that we are the caretakers of this planet and the animals are where we need to be most conscientious. I have no doubt that in another life I was probably a "crazy cat lady"! Ha! But I can't do that and continue to work my job to pay my bills so there's the catch.

I love to sketch, draw, and paint. I draw all the time. I sketch nightly, filling up paper with ink and pencil drawings of whimsical doodlings from my brain that quickly come and fill up the blanks. My favorite is black and white drawing but I also love to dabble in colors and I can do it for hours on end, losing myself in the time and mystery of it all. So that is definitely a passion.

How does someone follow their passion? How does one make a passion a life's goal? When does it become the seed that grows into something bigger and takes off becoming the integral part of life itself? I feel like I need to find out soon because continuing to do the same thing day after day is becoming mind numbing and soul sucking. So, yes...soon....I hope....

Saturday, March 19, 2016

We need a better system...

On Thursday, I spent the better  part of four hours in the emergency room with my sister and her family. She has Stage 4 cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. This is the latest in a long, long line of medical treatments she has had in the past several years. When she was diagnosed with her cancer, it was already at Stage 4 and inoperable. The best the doctors could do was to offer medical treatment to "prolong life" and estimated that they might give her another 5 to 7 years. Chemotherapy was the treatment of last resort because it is the most heinous, foul, poisonous thing a person can possibly have to do to their bodies. But, that is where she is at right now.

The cancer is wily and moves around in her body so when a tumor shrinks or leaves an area another one pops up somewhere else. Recently, two of the them took over her left knee making it impossible for her to walk with any sense of safety. It gave her what they call "drop foot". Over time, her right leg weakened as well and she is now not able to walk at all making her care at home almost impossible. Which is what led to her going to the ER on Friday. She was, for the first time, completely unable to stand, bear weight or move her legs. She could not even roll over in bed.

At the ER, we were told that she was just going to be sent home because her vitals were all normal and there was no medical reason to keep her at the hospital. Now mind you, no other tests had been done and her primary doctors hadn't been consulted but the social worker was telling us that my sister's insurance would not allow them to admit her as inpatient. She has Medicare.

We asked about nursing home care and we were told that Medicare would only pay for that if she was in a hospital for at least three days and then they would pay but, if not, Medicare would deny it so she would either have to go home or the family would have to pay for the nursing home out of pocket. That would have been a cost of between $7000 - $10,000 upfront.

We asked about Hospice Care, knowing that Medicare pays for Hospice and Hospice will pay for nursing home up to a 30 day stay. We were told that she would have to go home and wait to be assessed at home by a Hospice agency because they could not come into the hospital to assess her. So, even though she would be lying in her bed, immobile, with no way to move, use a toilet or change positions, she would have to wait until someone had time to come out to her. Then, the social worker, unbelievably, told us - and I am not kidding - that she was positive that if my sister went into a nursing home for 30 days she would DEFINITELY decline and they would allow her to lie in bed all day and she would get pneumonia and be right back in the ER when she was released!

Naturally, my sister was terrified. Her daughter was terrified. Her husband was at a loss to know what to do. Eventually, her doctors did get involved and took care of the situation and got her admitted for tests to finally find out what the heck was making her unable to walk. But, the time spent in the ER was eye opening to me.

The inadequacies of our health care system is appalling! My sister has Medicare - the insurance provided to her by our government because she has worked hard all her life and paid into it and deserves to have it and it pays for the barest, minimum of things and makes the health providers have to jump through such hoops in order to get people the care they really need. Then, the attitude of some of those providers about people with Medicare was clear and present in that ER. No time or thought was given to the stress, fear and worry that my sister was feeling. That social worker was rude and probably should seek other work. We can do better. We have to. People deserve and have a right to good health care that is helpful and accommodating. When people are sick and scared and need help, they have to rely on professionals and their insurance to be there for them. No one should have to go through what my sister did in the ER and she was lucky because she has a big, loud family there to advocate for her. What about those who don't? When we asked that question, what about someone who didn't have someone at home to take care of them - what would they do? The social worker said, and I quote, "You have to understand, we can only do what Medicare allows. We'd have to send them home." So, in other words, make sure you have a support system that you create for yourself because you cannot and should not rely on any medical professionals or the government to help you out when you really need it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

My open letter to America...

It is only in my latest years that I have been paying more attention to the political happenings in our country. As a younger adult, I'm ashamed to say, I was not overly involved. I voted, but not with a full grasp of how it all worked or what might be at stake. As I became more firmly dedicated to my career (community mental health services) and aged up myself I also became more keenly aware of how the actions of our government have direct effect on our day to day lives. Sometimes, those actions can, and do, leave people feeling disenfranchised. Yet, I vote.

I remember being very upset and feeling that Al Gore had been shafted when he lost his bid for president leaving us with Mr. Bush at the helm once again. And I was overjoyed when Barack Obama won and had a renewed sense of hope for this nation. And now we are faced with the next big decision. Who will be our next president? I've been watching the debates - both republican and democratic - with interest and, to be honest, awe. The Republicans seem to have created a new way to slam their conservative views into the mainstream but not really saying what it is they would do if elected but, somehow, diverting the attention to a sideshow of incredible proportion. And this is where I want to speak to America...

Dear America,

This is a big, bright, beautiful land full of wonderful people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, religions, colors, beliefs, economic standards, education levels and races. For a long time, we have managed, albeit not without our struggles, to come together from time to time and make things work. We still have far to go. But I'm afraid.

I see the person some people are heralding as the one who "speaks their mind" and "tells it like it is" as the next great candidate for President of the United States of America. His platform is one of intolerance and hate and he's using all of you to make that happen. He's even called you all, his followers "uneducated" and prides himself on being able to lead you around. And you are being lead around. He has no sound plans to lead this country anywhere or do anything to, as he says, "Make America Great Again". It's all just words. So many words said through a smirk and shrug and the clink of a another million in his pocket. He thinks less of you all than he does the elevator operator at Trump tower. And yet you follow.

He tells you he can "shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue" and you follow.
He called someone "fat" and has them removed from his rally and you follow.
He degrades women by calling them names and you follow.
He says Mexico is sending rapists and mentally ill and you follow.
He blames Mexico and China for "taking" our jobs but has businesses that make clothing and jewelry in both countries and yet you follow.
He talks about companies hiring illegals but only just settled part of a law suit where he hired illegal workers and was sued for not even paying them minimum wage and yet you follow.
He's bankrupted his own companies when they were losing money several times and yet you follow even though he cannot show how he can balance or repair a budget.
But most of all, he has said repeatedly he would seek to send away thousands of immigrants already here and find a way to "identify" Muslims while they were here in order to "fight terrorism". That, my friends, is very much what Hitler said, and did, at the very beginning of the Third Reich. And yet, even with people showing up at his rallies in full KKK regalia and carrying Confederate flags, YOU FOLLOW.

Why? Because he is the candidate the media has created. He is the sound byte they gave you. He is the political version of a reality TV show - just entertaining enough to keep the water cooler conversation lively. Nobody wants to hear someone talk about real issues when they can watch a car wreck. But the horrible truth is, America is just dumbed down enough to take that car wreck seriously.

Wake up, America! WAKE UP! If you have to vote Republican, please, for the love of all that's holy, do not vote for Donald Trump! He is the scariest thing to happen to American politics in a long, long time.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Five Things I Am Thankful For...

  • 1. My husband. I sometimes sit back and wonder in awe that I have met this incredibly smart, talented, funny, compassionate man and he loves me back and that is so awesome! Alex is amazing and I can't tell him or the world enough.

  • 2. My family. My parents did good. They raised good people. And those people raised good people, my siblings. And those good people are starting to raise good people of their own. So much love all around. What an amazing bunch!

  • 3. My humor. I work with a lot of heart ache and depression - in situations that try the human spirit. Without a sense of humor it would be all too much. Way too much.

  • 4.My health. It could and should be better, I know, but it's a work in progress. I have aches and pains but I am breathing. The struggle is real - but hey, at least I am here to struggle!

  • 5.My strength. Even on those days when I would rather not, I get up, I go on. I have to. People rely on me. I can take it. I am Mrs. Kelleher's daughter. My mother taught school for 28 years and in that time only took time off when she had children - literally to give birth. She never called in sick, never took a personal day. She knew those kids relied on her. I am Mrs. Kelleher's daughter. I wish I could say I haven't had a sick day but that's not true. I can say though that I try to get my ass to work on every single day I am able. Knee surgery? Back in the office in 4 weeks rather than 8. Hysterectomy? Back in the office in 2 weeks rather than 6. I'm her daughter! And I must heal pretty fast too! Ha!