The Family Conference
This was and still is, I might add, a very important part of our family tradition even as adults. I have always thought this was one of the most important ways to teach self-esteem and self-empowerment. Children long to be included in decision making. These “conferences” were a place where what they say counts and most importantly, and most of all what they feel counts. If memory serves me, I think I remember some of the more important reasons family conferences were held:
- Weekend plans
- Vacation destinations
- We are moving (again)
- Someone’s starting a new job
- Problems with friends or classmates
- Moving rooms or sleeping places
- The stars, the heavens & why are we here?
- Someone wants more freedom
It is a bonding experience where the older ones can help the younger ones cope and understand their problems using their own experiences. Children need to be taken seriously in this way. Our life style seemed to be always a chaotic frenzy of time schedules where most of the time I listened to them all with one ear while preparing dinner, throwing coins in the laundry machines at the laundry mat, picking up the house and french braiding someone’s hair while getting ready for work.
Family Conferences allowed me to “table” a decision on something until a day off and more peace prevailed. In the meantime the person who called the family conference would need to gather what they wanted to change and why. Listing on paper was highly encouraged in hopes of minimizing the blank look and shoulder shrugging. The kids all became quite the little litigators using this method. Most teachers were impressed by their quick reasoning powers. No one was allowed to state a problem without at least three solutions as options to decide on. This little rule drove them all crazy but made excellent problem solvers in the long run. Of course the solutions had to be reasonable. For instance, posting an index card on the laundromat bulletin board offering your sister for free babysitting, house cleaning, garbage taking out, would not be considered reasonable. Lots of little old ladies answered that invitation to my everlasting frustration.
If the conference was about moving there were pictures, maps and information about the proposed area. Exact dates and time and reason of moving was also open for discussion. The same was true for holidays, vacations and weekend visits to relatives.
Children, I learned, are bright, clear, aware, flexible, and come to the table uncluttered with old history or old society beliefs. They teach you to think out of the box. They were all very creative and astonishing with solutions. It made very clear the fact that we were all in this together and that knowledge made for a circle of bonding full of respect and caring. It taught them that there was nothing you could not get through. They found out that through it all no one knows you better than your family. No one is better to take charge when you can’t. They had experience beyond their years by solving, changing and being honored for who you are.
Honor your children and never lose the family empowerment circle of respect.
My father’s hands were huge and rough and calloused. When I was small my whole tiny hand barely fit around one of his fingers. He would use those big hands to gently lift the baby chicks so I could pet them. As I smiled his hand would envelop the top of my head softly patting it sending feelings of love like sparkling stars through my soul. I could feel those same strong hands holding the back fender of my Western Flyer bicycle as I was trying to learn to ride. When he felt I had learned enough to balance on my own that huge hand would slowly lift away. This would be his style for every period of growth I went through.
His hands would put every worm on every hook on my cane pole. In the high mountain streams his big strong hands would delicately snap and circle a trout line in a beautiful ballet barely touching the surface of the ice cold water. As his line skimmed the top he would snap it up spraying a fine mist that sprinkled like diamonds in the mountain sun. I watch those big rugged hands make tiny intricate flies for fishing and repair reels until they hummed.
Those hands would come home from a day’s hard work full of lacquer and specks of paint from house painting and he would drench them in thinner to clean them off enduring the sting in any open cuts. In the cold dry winter he would get cracks in them and have to treat them with heavy salves. But they still did their work, still had power, and they still gently held mine and kept me safe. In church they would find a peppermint hidden in his pocket and pass it to me during services before holding the hymn book while we sang together. As I grew and found a new love those hands reluctantly walked me down the aisle.
One day on my weekly visits to my parents’ home I noticed his huge hands were trembling ever so lightly and I realized age was taking its toll. Whenever I saw him I always reached for his hands for they had always been my connection to his great love. Those hands are at rest now but the memories still touch my soul in ways no other love has ever done. I can still feel his grip on my hand that brought so much peace in my heart and it guides me through every storm that life presents.
Are we warehousing our people? Institutions have been banned long ago but there is a subtle, ever so gentle push to contain, manage and control citizens who have similarities. These similarities are not physical but based on a much more pervasive demographic. These citizens are our seniors, the disabled and low income of our community. Senior housing, section 8, HUD housing and accessible complexes lure citizens by offering amenities specific to their needs. All fine and good but makes you wonder why the American culture is so dead set on categorizing its citizens. This categorization starts at the funding source itself. The qualifying criteria of government programs demands a label.
I agree there are gated communities where people choose to live around their own peers of the same social status. That is fine and it is their choice. It is America and we are supposed to have freedom of choice. But here’s the disparity, the financially stable “choose” and the low income citizens “qualify”. Money should not be the benchmark of a person’s worth to society. Unfortunately it is the standard by which budgetary funding also rest on. It’s always about the money. It’s more expedient to build apartments that are all user-friendly to the occupants needs. I get that. Instead of ordering one roll-in shower component the contractor can order 100 and get a price break. It’s easier to build senior units all without step entry rather than a few at a regular apartment complex. But we are using this justification to place individuals and separate them like cattle into appropriate barns.
Why not separate young adults from middle age adults? Separate smart people from average people and so on. I’m not saying wanting to be around people like yourself is wrong by any means. What I’m trying to say is that not having a choice is wrong. We desperately need more integration and less isolation. The wealthy in America represent only around 10% of our population. That 10% can make any choices they desire while the 80% must qualify, if not now, usually by late adulthood.
If housing was built using universal design anyone could live anywhere. The cost for building would be the same regardless of the occupants needs. Some seniors prefer to live with neighbors their own age but some do not. The seniors I’ve interviewed feel its depressing and one step from the nursing home but have no other option. Many of the residents I spoke with who live in expensive retirement communities have moved back to individual residents complaining their autonomy was compromised by the cruise ship activity mentality at the big retirement complexes. At least their own financial security allowed them to make that choice. Categories may make it easier to finance and serve the people with disabilities, seniors and low income but it smacks in the face of American freedoms.
Sharing more of what makes me smile…….
Eddie Murphy movies
Snow crunching beneath snow boots
Root beer floats
Canoes slicing through the water
Crepes filled with strawberries and cream cheese
The velvet feel of a horse muzzle
Outside ice skating rinks
Onion rings from Sonic Drive-in
Wood Picnic baskets
Holiday family gatherings full of laughter
Rolling up cinnamon dough filled with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans and raisins
Folding clothes and gossiping
Fat little sparrows
Baby grand pianos
Oak wood rockers
Buoys bouncing in the ocean
Dollhouses with teeny lights
Clean smelling sheets right from the dryer
Getting a long hug
The whip & snap ballet of a trout line
“Dancing Days” by Led Zeppelin
POOH’s honey pot
Soft warm afghans
Wood and brass park benches
Miniature tootsie rolls
Borden chocolate milk served over ice
Gut hurting laughter
Caesar salad with crusty French bread
A silver moon over water
A big chunk of lemon in ice tea
Cliffs like cathedrals with trees growing out of its rocks
Talking with someone who is a good listener
Having a strong parent
Afternoon naps on cloudy, rainy days
The smell of fresh baked bread
Opening a brand new jar of peanut butter
Crazy socks on old people
Squirrels chasing each other up a tree
The smell of the first chimney smoke of the season
English tea carts
The velvet of the rose
I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to always fit in, cow down or blend in. But in the great diverse nation of America normal is what’s being insisted on in schools, workplaces and communities. So who decides what is normal? Normal is what the culture in a society says it is based on the majority consensus. Society’s influences plays a huge part. Where do most of these influences come from? Besides religious beliefs they primarily come from marketing and the media. Some of the most pervasive and influential ads come from the pharmaceutical companies. They make you reevaluate your physical and mental health by asking if you ever feel down, laugh too long, go to the bathroom too frequently or get a headache from stress. Then they show you the solution in the form of their pill or liquid that will bring you back to “normal”.
Of course if symptoms lasts for more than a month or so you probably should seek a doctor’s advice but if it’s just a reaction to a crisis or upset and lasts just a day or two you could probably just use coping skills. And, they are not the only marketing schemes meant to bring you the ability to fit in with society. Manufacturing industries, cosmetic companies and fine jewelry also promote a “keeping up with the Joneses” solution by purchasing their cutting edge products.
I have always questioned why things are the way they are, and it just concerns me what influences the society I live in to make the rules of conformity for “normal” because it influences city ordinances, government guidelines and even education. The criteria to access benefits in your community is based on what that society perceives your needs are according to their perception of normal.
Public schools try to be a little more flexible with things like clothing and hairstyles. But any individualism like tattoos, too many earrings, hair colors or anything else that they deem distracting to other “normal” students is forbidden. The workplace is worse because it is usually up to the management and their perceptions of normal as to the expectations of self-identity. Noncompliance could cost you your job.
Personally, I’m not comfortable with conflict and the stress it creates. I think most people feel this way and so we comply. Unless you are filthy rich, and eccentric, bucking the system of normal is too high of a risk and too easy to be ostracized. However, I believe we have more power than we know we do. The influence of marketing and media are based on profits. If they are pulling the strings of influence we have the ability to cut those strings. Not all marketing and media are negative though. Some ads can be very informative in ways that promote further research that otherwise would have been ignored. We can promote those marketing and media efforts and ignore or refuse to buy things that promise to fix us so that we “fit in”. We can live by example and become the individual accepting diversity and even promote it. We can produce a consumer demand from that more diverse culture. We have always had the power over big business but sometimes it can be too easy to be lulled by their persuasive melody.
Some little things that always make me smile –
- The way pine tree branches sway and bend in the wind
- A cat’s paws flexing in and out while they purr
- The smell of pot roast and carrots in the crock pot
- Christmas Eve night
- Snow falling right before bedtime
- Extra soft teddy bears
- Buying a surprise gift for someone
- Twenty candles lit around a scented bubble bath
- Starbucks coffee on a cold winter night
- Goose down pillows
- Camp fires
- Low rolling thunder
- Puppies playing
- Robin’s egg blue
- Lincoln Continentals jet black & fully loaded
- The stillness at 3:00 am
- Candy apples from the fair
- Roses, especially cream and white
- Shooting stars
- Hush puppy shoes
- Yellow rain slickers
- French braided hair
- French doors
- Huge gold jingle bells on a wide velvet ribbon
- Soft flannel shirts
- Teeny sweet pickles
- Happy people
- Deviled eggs with helmans mayonnaise
- Fresh washed hair
- A baby’s giggle
- Kittens spanking a shaft of light
- Leather journals
- The way a person’s butt dances while sharpening a pencil
- Shopping with a hundred dollars to spare
- Creamy soup in bread bowls
- Big wooden decks
- The scent of lavender
- Horses running with their mane flowing
- Singing to yourself
- Wind chimes
- Homemade tacos
- Doubly ply, extra soft toilet paper
- Deer grazing silently in a meadow
- Sweet cold watermelon
- Dogs lips blowing out while sticking their head out a car window
Guide your children with love,
Courage and strength
but remember it is their Journey in the end
Know that life has many storms
but also know it has many rainbows
Count your blessings every day
Forget your regrets
Honor nature and learn it’s wisdom
for it can teach you everything
Read and learn from books
but trust your own intuition
Go within yourself to find your way
but don’t linger there long enough to forget
Keep close to your family in good times and bad
for they are the Soul’s that have come here to help you
Live your life with purpose even if you don’t know what it is
Remember that others have a purpose even if
they don’t know what it is
Pray for strength to pull you through what is
Don’t pray for outcome of what is not
Remember you are only visiting Earth
Leave your essence so the Angels will know you were here.
Where will I be when I’m 93?
Will I live with grace and dignity?
Will the world be at peace?
Will my struggles be gone?
Will love come with ease?
Will my journey be long?
Will the storm still excite me?
Will nature still sooth my Soul?
Will I live free?
Will my life be truly told?
Where will I be when I’m 93?
Will I still remember me?
Can the state actually take your home for medical bills? Under certain conditions the answer is yes and it targets the elderly specifically. This federal law has been a well-kept secret since its inception in 1993 when all states had the option since Medicaid began in 1965 to recover some medical cost from recipients after they die. However, it was optional and states could only recoup Medicaid costs spent on those 65 years or older. When Congress passed the 1993 omnibus budget bill it “required” states to recover the expense on long-term care and related costs for deceased Medicaid recipients at 65 or older. The affordable care act did nothing to change this existing federal law. It did however move the age backward to 55 years old after considering the aging baby boomer population on the horizon. That puts potentially more estates on the hook for Medicaid reimbursements after the beneficiary dies. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program and as in any other program receiving money from the federal government, can be penalized for not complying with federal criteria.
So what does that mean exactly? It simply means that if you or your parent or your grandparent owns a home or property and is over the age of 55 could find themselves in a position of a lien on their home to recoup Medicaid spending after they die. No one expects to be a user of the Medicaid program but long-term illnesses or severe accidents that can cap out the best insurance policy can land us there in a matter of days. The services that the state Medicaid program seek recovery for is nursing facility services, home and community-based services, and related hospital and prescription drug services. There are “some” stipulations that could keep them from placing a lien on the individual’s home. The areas where states may not recover monies is if the individual is survived by a spouse who lives in the home, a child under 21, or blind or disabled child of any age living in the home. However, considering this age group that criteria usually does not apply.
The best advice of course, if you can financially afford it, is to talk with an Elder Law attorney in your local state. If you cannot afford one however here are some thoughts that might help you out.
- The “look back” period to transfer property in order to be eligible for Medicaid is five years. Most times people don’t have this option as a sudden illness appears unexpectedly. But if you think you have the time to put your home in a loved one’s name or friend before something happens that would be the best course of action.
- If there’s no one to leave the property to think of selling and using the money to sustain a lifestyle out of the nursing home and in your own control. You might be able to trade down to a smaller more accessible home.
- You might even look into the reverse mortgage programs. If you qualify the money can help you stay out of the system by enabling you to remodel accessible features and give you control and independence that would allow you to remain in your own home.
Being proactive is the only way to ensure your house and property goes where you wanted to. You can research Medicaid Estate Recovery and liens on the web to get more information. You can also go to the website http://www.swcil.org and request free information. This is a nonprofit Center for Independent living serving people with any and all disabilities. They have many resources available and are always willing to assist you free of charge.
Why is everyone in America waiting incessantly in waiting rooms? There is waiting everywhere like doctors, dentists, insurance offices, hospital procedures etc. In most of these waiting periods are not just a 10 to 15 minute wait but anywhere from 40 minutes to over 2 hours. To make things worse all waiting rooms look alike. Old magazines, a TV in the corner, chairs shoved together so you can’t move yours away from a sick person spewing cold or flu viruses on you. The TV is supposed to suck up our time but it does more harm than good by never having suitable viewing material for everyone’s different taste. The various ages alone is a barrier to consensus. The noise can be an annoying background to someone who just needs some silence and is in pain. Elevator music is not much better and will put most people to sleep.
All of us crammed in one room look like we are watching a tennis match as our heads jerk up every time the door opens and a nurse or a business person calls the next person. We sit and read, try to tune out the annoying game shows on TV and fidget in the uncomfortable imitation leather seats while anxiously imaging 100 things we would rather be doing with this precious time we will never get back in our lifetime. I’ve even tried to be proactive and outsmart them by getting the very first appointment in the morning at 8 AM and it can still take another 45 minutes wait before they finally call me. Really? The same wait occurs for outpatient procedures that they warn you NOT to be late for. A 7 AM appointment can often be delayed up to and over two hours. I don’t know what all the answers are but I have a few suggestions.
As far as improvements I think an update frequently from a “courteous” staff as to order of selection and how much longer it should be. Just acknowledgment of who you are and that you are not forgotten relieves the stress and anxiety. I also think they need a little incentive like for every 30 minutes past your appointment time 10% off of your office visit will be deducted. I bet when they see that 10% turn in the 40% they pay more attention to their scheduling and treat the customer with respect as they are the ones lining the pockets. And of course a variety of reading material that’s not just based on the physician’s hobbies and investments. Right now the burden is on the patient (the “consumer” if you will) and not the ones providing the service. In another area of business we would not tolerate this treatment in order to give them our money.