past present future

 

Our past, present, and future are all strongly inter-connected. If not for the past, we would not be the people we are today or having the experiences of the moment. Likewise, without our experiences today, we would not have our future of tomorrow.

 

Accepting The Past

 

Although many people would like to change the past, it is far better to accept the past for what it is. Whether it was good or bad, it was an element that helped make you who you are. When we don’t accept the past, it continues to dominate the present. Thus, the past doesn’t simply contribute to our present, but it controls it.

 

Accepting that the past does not mean we have to approve of things that happened during that era. Neither does it mean that we ride on our laurels of the past.

 

It is best when we simply acknowledge that in the past we have been in good situations and bad situations. Likewise, we have done things we are proud of and things that we would have liked to have done differently. Still, all those things remain in the past.

 

100% Responsibility

 

Sometimes we have challenges moving past things that others have done in the past. It is important to understand that we can and should take responsibility for those things that we have done. However, it is unhealthy to take responsibility for what someone else has done to us or someone else.

 

If we perceive something was done to us, we can use that to make us stronger and to move forward. If we try to own the other person’s actions towards us, we are giving them an excuse and not allowing them to own up to their responsibility. It also gives power to their actions.

 

As humans, we want to “fix” every problem, person, and situation. The reality is that we cannot. We can only take responsibility for actions that we have taken, learn from our errors, and move forward committed to live a good life.

 

Living Today

 

We must realize that although we cannot change the past, we can take control of today. It is critical to realize that the actions we take today will shape our future and may affect the future of others, as well. This isn’t to say that every decision made each day has to be fully analyzed for impacts on the future.

It would be impossible and frankly unnecessary to analyze every decision. For example, deciding to do the dishes or wait until later isn’t likely to have a big impact on our future. However, some decisions have long-term impacts. For example, deciding to check text messages while driving could completely change multiple people’s lives. Thus, it is important to check in occasionally and ask “Am I on track to make a better tomorrow?”

 

The Future

 

This all leads us to the future, which will become the present and then the past. Living in the future is similar to living in the past. Although the past and present affect the future, focusing on the future and neglecting the present will lead us down a path of regret.  

 

We need to plan for the future and realize the impact of our actions on the future. However, if we live only for the future, we will fail to live at all. For example, if we always save every dime for tomorrow, we will never spend it as tomorrow never comes.

 

Therefore, we must understand that the past, present, and future are intertwined. Remember, although the past helps make you who you are, it does not define you. No matter your current circumstances, you have the choice to act today in a way that will create a brighter tomorrow!

 

Invest In Yourself

 

 Investing In Others

 

People often put others head of themselves. They see friends, family and strangers struggling financially, emotionally or in some other manner. When this comes to a person’s attention, they often jump right in to help even if it comes at a great personal cost. For instance, a family member may help a cousin that is going through surgery or illness. This is fine, if the person has the time and energy to invest. However, if they are not overly well, this additional burden may take a toll on their health.

 

Other times people observe or believe they observe something in others where they believe the other person needs to address some type of personal issue. For example, we have had numerous people that attended a class and remarked how someone they knew needed that class or an upcoming class. They proceed to attempt to get that person to attend future events. Often the person is not ready or simply not interested in making a change and the person fails to get them to attend. The person who tries to encourage them may become emotionally drained in their effort.

 

Other times, people feel driven to help people on the other side of the globe. They often donate time and money to these causes without knowing if the money and supplies will actually reach the people in need. The only way to know for sure is to participate in the delivery of services and goods, which can be quite time consuming, potentially risky, and at times expensive.

 

Knowing Your Limits

 

Helping others is a wonderful thing to do. It is important, however, for people to know their limits. Whenever possible people should match their skills, time availability, and financial situation to how they help people. For instance, I help people who are adopted find their birth families. This is something that brings them joy and for which I have skills. I would be far less efficient and far more stressed trying to build wells or homes in a third world country. Meanwhile, a carpenter might have no idea how to find a birth family. By choosing to help within one’s skills and limits, the person is helping others while also taking care of him or her self.

 

Still, there are times when a person has to simply take time for him or her self and not help others – even their friends or family. For people that say, “I can’t do that,” I remind them of the airline safety instructions. They tell you that if the oxygen masks are deployed you should secure your mask before placing a mask on someone that might need assistance. The reason, of course, is that if you can’t breathe, you can’t assist someone else.

 

The same is true in life, if a person runs out of steam and become wore down, ill, financially ruined, etc., they can’t help others. However, if they take time to invest in themselves, they have a higher chance of being healthy and vibrant. Thus, they will be in a much better position to help others.

 

Invest In You

 

Investing in oneself doesn’t require a lot of time or money. However, it should occur regularly. It can be as simple as meditating for 10 minutes per day, taking a bath and shutting out the entire world, listening to music that you really love, or reading for pleasure. If the calendar and bank account allows, it is desirable to include occasional bigger investments, such as, long hikes, energy work, classes, or retreats.

 

For people that have a difficult time investing in themselves, they need to realize that all people need some self-care. They may not feel they need it. Perhaps, they feel they don’t deserve it. Maybe they feel there are others that need it more. No matter the argument, they need to go back to the basic concept, put your oxygen mask on before assisting someone else. That tells them everything they need to know. Care of self must come first before one can care for others.

 

Do You Invest In You?

 

So, the question is “How often do you invest in yourself?” If you don’t invest in yourself regularly, consider adding some self-care to your calendar. Remember, it doesn’t have to require a lot of time or money. You do, however, need to make an effort. No one else can do it for you.

 

Making A Difference: The little thing

 

 

You may be familiar with the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and it is all small stuff” by Richard Carlson. In that book, the author describes one hundred techniques (or thought processes) to get through your day with less anxiety and stress. These techniques vary broadly covering everything from choosing your battles to imagining your own funeral.

 

Focus On The Important

 

The ideas behind these techniques are to get you to focus on the important things instead of letting little things take over your life.

 

In his book he talks about smiling at strangers and performing random acts of kindness. Each of these things could be classified as “small stuff.” However, these aren’t things to sweat, but things to do to bring joy into someone else’s life and ultimately your own.

 

Small Things Make A Difference

 

It is these very small acts that can make a difference in the world. Consider, if every person on the planet replaced even one snippy remark, aggressive action, or unkind word with a positive loving action each day. It would totally change the world!

We can’t likely get everyone around the globe to participate, but we can lead by example. Smiling and showing interest in other people is one of my favorites. It doesn’t cost even one second to smile.

 

And, it takes very little time to inquire as to how someone is doing. It is important, however, that when you inquire you should actually care about the other person’s answer. Do not be like many cashiers at grocery and big box stores who inquire as to if you found everything, but who have no course of action if you did not. You need to be prepared to provide kind supporting words or assistance if necessary.

 

Other simple ideas are to hold a door for someone, carry something for them, help them with their child, or offer to let someone go ahead of you in line. None of these cost money and most of them cost very little time.

 

Other relatively low cost ways to make someone’s day include: making or buying someone a card, taking treats or a meal to a neighbor, buying a box of Girl Scout cookies, or paying for someone’s meal.

 

Doing Something Bigger

 

Occasionally, you will have an opportunity to do something a bit bigger directly for someone. This may be someone in trouble or someone that has fallen on hard times.

 

One example of an opportunity that came my way was a man and his school-age son who stopped at our house one day. They told us that they needed some additional money to pay for school supplies and other school expenses. They didn’t ask for a handout, but simply asked if there was any work they could do to earn some money. We were happy to oblige. We had some yard work that we could have done ourselves, but instead we gave them the opportunity to earn some cash. Even better, the son had the opportunity to learn about the value of work. It was a huge win for everyone!

 

You Can Always Make An Impact

 

You may not have an opportunity like that every day or you may not be able to assist someone in that way due to your own finances. However, there are always small ways to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. Try to do something positive every day – even if it is simply posting something positive on Facebook. You never know how one simple act might change someone’s life!

 

Making A difference

Have you ever complained to your best friend, sister, brother, spouse, or parent about something going on in your life? It is human nature and I doubt that there is an adult alive that hasn’t complained in some form.

 

Complaining

 

Although complaining may help you feel better momentarily, it does nothing to resolve the issue. It simply keeps the issue alive through dialog. To actually, resolve the issue and truly feel better, you have to take steps to find a solution. Working on a solution does not include complaining, telling the other person/situation to fix themselves, nor does it include creating a major disturbance to get attention. It means taking actual steps to resolve the issue.

 

Take Action

 

If you want a solution to an issue in your life – a better relationship with your spouse, to be treated better in the workplace, or to create a better world for your children – take action. You may not pick the right thing to do and you may find yourself changing course in the future. Still, take an actual step toward making a difference.

 

If you want a better relationship with your spouse, treat him or her better. Set up date nights. Decide to do something special that you both will enjoy. Or, better yet, invite your spouse to work with you to come up with ideas that the two of you would enjoy.

 

Making It Happen

 

If you want to make a difference in the world, be like Scott Pressler, who organized a cleanup in Baltimore after hearing about the issue in the press. Thousands, maybe millions, of people heard about the issue. However, Scott took action. In a few days, he mobilized people, got donations, and the group cleaned up 12 tons of trash in one day. Now, he is getting people excited about cleaning up other cities around the country.

 

Leading By Example

 

You don’t have to mobilize large groups of people to make a difference. For instance, you can make a difference simply by leading by example. For example, if you strongly believe that people need to change the way they live to protect the climate, change your life style to be aligned with your beliefs. Become the person that everyone looks to as an example of green living. Make sure you also research products and their alternatives to ensure you make the best overall decisions for the planet. Allow others to see what you are doing and then prepare to advise them if they would like to follow your lead.

 

Likewise, if you want better education in schools, become a school volunteer. Learn about the rules and constraints the educators face. Find a way to use your particular skills to help the situation. You may not be able to do it alone. Still, take action to make a difference.

 

Find What Is Important To You

 

You don’t have to take action on every thing that you want changed, but you should attempt to make a difference on those things that are most important to you. If you believe an issue is really important, but you aren’t willing to try to find a solution, likely deep in your heart you don’t believe it is an issue. Alternately, you may be gaining something by keeping things the way they are. In this case, you are allowing the problem to continue and you effectively become part of the problem.

 

If you find yourself in this kind of situation, you need to ask yourself what you are getting from keeping things status quo. Perhaps you get attention from friends and family for having to deal with the problem, perhaps it feeds your ego in some way, or it gives you an excuse for not moving forward with your life. If you believe you are getting nothing out of keeping the problem in place, ask yourself what is keeping you from working on the problem? Answering this question is key in improving your life.

 

Be A Part Of The Solution

 

You can complain all day and nothing will change. You can tell others to change and nothing will change. The only way to create change is to take action to resolve the problem. And, if for some reason the problem cannot be resolved, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you took action to make a difference.

 

It is easy to be part of the problem, but it is so much more rewarding to be part of the solution.

 

garage sale connections

 

Garage sales are an interesting time to both observe and connect with people from many different cultures who have many different reasons for being at the garage sale.

 

Some of the people are at the garage sale because they really can’t afford to shop in stores. Our garage sale is usually really good for them as we price household goods and clothing below the price at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Thus, they can shop at our sale and spend less money. We have also been known to give them a very good discount even on these prices if we feel they have no money.

 

Observation

 

It sometimes requires some excellent observation skills to know which people are truly in need and those that are trying to make you believe they are in need just to get a deal. The two have very different energy.

 

Of course, there are people whose culture is about bartering. Realizing this is the case is important because they are always going to try to talk you down from whatever price is given. My favorites are those that insult you or your items if you don’t accept their very low price. They give me a chuckle. Connecting with them enough to know what is happening gains you money and saves hurt feelings.

 

Then, there are those that speak little to no English. We have found that some of them still manage to easily connect with us while others do not. Clearly, fluently speaking the same language is not required in creating a connection. Likewise, speaking the same language and even being quite alike does not guarantee a connection.

 

Best Connections

 

Some of our best connections are with casual garage salers. Some of them are out just to enjoy the day, some are looking for something to do and to have a conversation with people, and others just enjoy seeing items people have for sale. These people have time and often want to have conversations. We sell less to them, but sometime the connection and conversation lead to sales of unexpected items. They are probably the least predictable of all groups.

The most predictable are the professional garage salers. They come, look for the specific items of interest, buy without hesitation, and leave just as fast. These people are generally not open to connecting, but are easy to spot.

 

All in all, garage sales can be an interesting way to observe people. Listening to people, watching how they look at items, and seeing what they skip over tells you a lot about them.

 

In the next article, we will discuss our experience having a “Make an Offer” Sale.

 

 

old enough

 

 

The federal government has age limits on specific positions. For instance, a person must be at least 25 to be an US Representative, 30 to be an US Senator, and 35 to be President.

 

Age Minimums

 

All states impose minimum ages for at least some of the key local and state government positions. However, the age minimums vary greatly from state to state.

 

The craziest of all laws regarding public service that I have seen are in Vermont. In that state, a person must be a voter to be a town official. Thus, effectively mandating a minimum age of 18 to be mayor of even the smallest town.

 

Governor At 14?

 

However, in Vermont there are no age limits for any key positions at the state level. Thus, anyone who has lived in the state for 4 years (a state requirement) can run for governor. In 2018, Ethan Sonneborn, who was 14 at the time, sought the nomination for the Democrat candidate for governor. He did not get the nomination, but he was qualified serve despite not having reached the age of majority.

 

As a 14-year-old, Ethan was not old enough to vote, drive a car, get a tattoo without his parent’s permission, smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or possess a handgun. However, he was old enough to stay at home alone, possess a rifle or a shotgun, and be governor.

 

I seriously doubt that the founders of Vermont intended for the governor to be a teenager. However, no one in the nearly 230-year history of the state has ever bothered to change the age for governor. Perhaps no one paid attention before or connected the lack of an age specification to the potential contradiction and issues that arise if a teenager were to become governor.

 

Issues

 

Issues would arise due to requirements to attend school until age 16. Even with home schooling, there would be labor issues as child labor laws in Vermont restrict how much and when teenagers can work.

 

This leads me to the most obvious concern. How can a 14-year-old sign a bill into law when they are not old enough to sign a contract?

 

I suspect that if a teenager ever won the governorship, there would be lots of sudden “Ahha’s” and laws would be quickly changed.

 

 

 

 

I have been considering what is at the core of the issues that we have with the healthcare industry. One of the issues that comes up over and over again is the lack of connection between patients, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, etc.

 

Healthcare roles are complicated and many healthcare workers are overworked. Thus, it is not surprising that many healthcare workers don’t understand a lot about other aspects of healthcare outside their specific role. However, that puts the patient in the position of handling their own healthcare inside a system that is full of flaws.

 

Flaws  In The System

 

The flaws in the system start with the paperwork, where the same information is entered over and over. Then, you talk to a nurse or medical technician, who asks you all the same questions. They may or may not enter it into the computer at that time. Now, enter the doctor who asks at least part of the questions again. (And, they wonder why people have high blood pressure.)

 

It make sense to double check some things or verify things where the answer is unclear. However, it makes a patient wonder why they are filling out the forms. Of course, it is sometimes far easier to ask the patient the question than read their handwriting or find the answer among the general history questions that have nothing to do with the problem at hand.

 

Best Interest In Mind

 

Still, I believe doctors and their staffs generally have the patient’s best interest in mind. They prescribe the treatments, surgery, and medicines that they believe will help the patient. The issue is that they have no idea how much these treatments cost the patient. I would really hate for them to make decisions on treatments based on cost. On the other hand, when there are two viable options, the doctor could choose a less expensive option if they knew the cost.

 

Whose Interest In Mind?

 

Hospitals, on the other hand, appear to be focused solely on making money. Patient care is a statistic to meet a government guideline or rule. They are worried about being penalized and/or meeting requirements that are financially beneficial to them. Often these rules are contradictory and not aligned with providing the best patient case despite that being the supposed goal.

 

The pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies also play a role. The pharmaceutical companies decide what to research and how much to charge for the drugs that they create. Like hospitals, they are about making money, which is not a good thing for the patient. They search for ways to address symptoms rather than cure diseases because they have no incentive to find cures.

 

The pharmacies, along with government regulations, decide when you can get medicine that is prescribed to you. The rules are different for mail pharmacies and local pharmacies. In the case of local pharmacies, often you cannot get your prescription refilled until less than a week before you run out. This is a huge issue for patients when living in rural areas where it is miles to town or when someone travels. It is not uncommon in these situations for the patient to be required to take extraordinary steps to get their medication.

 

Codes, Codes, And More Codes

 

Now, enter the insurance companies whose goal it is to limit expenses. They question everything, but generally speaking the staff questioning the need for treatment has little if any medical training. They know nothing of the patients’ situation outside the “codes” and they don’t trust the expert’s opinion.   Thus, someone completely unconnected to the patient and their situation is attempting to alter or limit the patient’s care.

 

This is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, it means lots of time and dollars are wasted arguing about how much money is going to be spent. The patient, in turn, ends up spending time getting it figured out or making sure that someone is figuring it out. In many situations, the prescribed treatment is approved, but at what cost?

 

In Part II “Connected Healthcare,” we will discuss an alternate healthcare system that connects care to the patient at every step.

 

After the recent flooding in the Midwest, I had to scoff at a politician who claimed that there were towns totally destroyed that would never exist again. Although this is possible, this politician clearly does not understand the mindset and determination of Americans.

 

Examples From History

 

If we look back in time, Chicago rebuilt after a major fire destroyed over 17,000 buildings in the 1870s and San Francisco came back stronger than ever after a 7.9 earthquake hit in 1906. More recently New Orleans is rebounding from Hurricane Katrina. Likewise, Joplin, Missouri is on the mend after a devastating F5 tornado destroyed a nearly mile-wide swath when it plowed through the southern part of the city eight years ago.

 

In all these cases, people died and property was destroyed, but the community survived. The same can be said of countless communities across the country. The key to their recovery is the people. People coming together to help one another is a way of life for many Americans. They fight for their communities even if politicians don’t realize it. Human resiliency should never be underestimated.

 

I can tell you that my father and father-in-law are prime examples of people who would be there any time for anyone. And, there are countless others like them. During the recent Nebraska flooding, for example, a farmer lost his life when he was taking his tractor out to help someone in need.

 

A Little Help

 

People overcome tragedy on a regular basis. Some get more attention through the media than others, but that does not diminish the effort. There are millions of situations where people help each other every day. It can be as simple as the neighbor who clears another neighbor’s sidewalk and drive after a snowstorm. We’ve had neighbors do this for us and vice versa. The neighbor of my father-in-law offered a portable heater upon learning that he needed something to heat his back porch to keep stuff from freezing.

 

A Lot of Help

 

Sometimes the help is more substantial. For example, in his earlier years, my father-in-law raced to the scene of a fire to save a family’s home, took a tractor through two-feet of snow to get mail for the entire neighborhood, and did mechanic work on a semi on Christmas Eve so that the driver could get home to be with his family for Christmas.

 

Other times people risk and sometimes lose their life to save a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger. People do this for each other. It is human nature to help those around you who are in need.

 

If we stop for a moment, each of us can recall with examples of how someone has helped our families or us. Likewise, we can remember ways we have helped others.

 

Gratitude

 

Even though there are times it is challenging to express gratitude, especially when the gift is anonymous, I believe most of us are grateful for those that help. Most of us have seen heart-warming videos of someone graciously giving their time and effort to help others in need. Those videos are very touching to us as a third-party. The person who was the recipient of the help, is likely extremely touched and grateful.

 

I for one am very grateful for human resiliency. I am proud to be a part of a community and a country where people help others in times of need. The world could be an even better place if we focused more on the wonderful gift of human resiliency.