Friday, July 31, 2009

Yearning for the Endless Sea…

I’ve been asked by friends and family to comment on the health care reform bill, and I have taken my time responding…partly because I’ve been busy, but I am also unsure of what to write. I’m not sure whether I should respond to the controversy or let it pass by. For me, the subject of this bill is not only part of my daily work, but as many of you know it’s also my labor of love. I know what I wish had been added to the bill, my favorite parts, and the things I don’t like. I could create a post just about those three items, and I think I will do that soon. But…then there are the pundits and the spin. I could spend an entire post responding to the controversy, both discussing the misrepresentations and truths. What to say?


I am intrigued by the party lines people draw when making their decision, both for and against. Nate would call me na├»ve for believing people will keep an open mind. Change is difficult, and health care reform is no different. Our country’s history weighs in heavily on reform. The issue is also complicated by each individual’s current health, wealth, and health care status (insurance or lack thereof). After spending some time pondering, I’ve decided it’s only natural that in a time of change, people sometimes return to public figures they trust—even the Rush Limbaughs or Jon Stewarts. This is a problem. Pundits know nothing about health care reform. What we need is a health care guru, someone Americans on both sides of the aisle can turn to and trust to give it to them straight. While President Obama is attempting to be that person, in name alone he represents ideas outside of health reform that muddle his argument. So, where do we go from here?


"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea" – Antoine de Saint Exupery


In the absence of a nonpartisan leader, I’d like to start a conversation with you all. First, I’m going to return to my plea of a few months ago. Please make a conscious effort to be open-minded, and I say that with the awareness that it is not easy to do so. Before we start the conversation, let’s all do some homework, which comes down to two words: due diligence. Learn one new thing per day about health care reform. Here’s the catch: you are not allowed to learn that thing from a pundit. Turn off CNN and Fox News. Whether you are for or against this administration, I suggest you give the US Government’s side some reading time. After all, how else can you make an informed judgment? But you don’t have to end there. Many think tanks (e.g. TFAH & Heritage Foundation) and non-profits (e.g. KFF & NACCHO, my own employer) are hard at work analyzing the current plan. Check out what they have to say. If you’re feeling spunky, you can even take a shot at reading the actual Senate and House bills (see NACCHO link above for summaries). I would venture to say reading blogs (see links below) may also help get you going; I wouldn’t leave out anyone who has done some research for you, since I can’t promise ANY document has a completely nonpartisan slant.


Giving you homework doesn’t get me off the hook—I’m not just telling you what you have to do. I try to learn as much as I can EVERY DAY about health care reform. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I believe health care reform is not just important; it may be MORE important than the war in Iraq or economic reform. If we don’t get our health and our health care in line, we risk losing not only our way of life but our LIVES and, even more importantly (in my mind), our children’s lives. By asking you to educate yourselves, I’m not being sarcastic or hateful. I seriously want nothing more than for you to learn what you want to happen in health care. Don’t tell me what you don’t want to happen; I want to know what YOU would do if you were in charge. It may be cheesy, and I may sound like a public service announcement, but whatever. In the end, they were on to something: knowledge is power.


A few blogs:

The Weiss Report (right-leaning): http://abilitycorner.com/democratic-leaders-block/

The Huffington Post (left-leaning): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/health-care-reform

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Great vacations, tough weekend

My trip to Vogel State Park for my family reunion was great! Vivi loved playing with her cousin Anna, and I had a blast with my family. It was one of the best Vogels ever for sure. The plane ride home was hilarious--she learned how to say "Wow!" and said it constantly during take-off and landing. Passing her around to everyone was very good for her, and she's already doing much better at being left with friends and our babysitter. Babbling is in full swing, and as if it weren't hard enough to understand a toddler, we are trying to figure out if she might be saying some words in Spanish. I've already figured out she can say "agua" and "gato," so I'm betting there's a good 10 more words I'm missing. She loves to read books and will now grab one and climb into your lap to have you read to her. Cutest word ever so far is "thank you," which sounds like "day doo."

I had a tough time this weekend because I had 2 days of anatomy lab, 8 hours per day...YUCK. Plus Nate left today for a week of training (don't ask, you know the drill by now), so I missed seeing him off and am now spending the evening studying more anatomy. I reallly hope this pays off some day. I am still looking forward to nursing school, maybe to start next summer. Our community college does online nursing classes--can you believe that? The hardest scheduling glitch will be my clinic hours. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Just Do It!

There are quite a few reasons I love my new gym, the YMCA down the street from my office in Farragut Square. The staff is exceptionally friendly, it's clean, it's really easy to get to, and one of the greatest and unexpected things...they send me emails. Normally I cringe to think of a place like a gym sending me spam, but these messages never try to sell me anything, they are just friendly and inspirational. I thought I'd share the one I just got today...

Justine, 
We hope you have a wonderful, active and healthy week. 
Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Just Do It! 
The first few weeks of any exercise program are often the most challenging – after all you aren't just exercising, you are beginning a new lifestyle. You may not feel like coming in, you may be tired, busy or perhaps even a little sore. Remember that it takes time to develop a habit, but if you make the commitment to exercising regularly, the benefits you receive will be amazing.
Exercising regularly will make you feel better and look better. Plus, you will feel good about yourself. The hardest part is making the commitment to change and then sticking with it. Show us that commitment, and we can help you get there! 
Let's do this together!

I promise I will update the blog with details about our trip to Spain and Portugal soon. It was a blast, and my mind is still taking it all in. I haven't had a trip since Kenya that has been so thought-provoking. More on this soon!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Chatty girl!

Vivi spent the last 2 weeks with my parents, first with my mom and then dad. We flew back from our trip yesterday and then met Dad in Durham NC today to pick her up. She already seems so different! She learned a bunch of new words, almost too many to list, and she loves to talk. Much of it is pretend sentences (what I call "Ewok"), but she's on her way to communicating with us! I have been singing to her for a long time, and today she suddenly decided to join in the singing, which was incredibly adorable. She is such a sweetheart.

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Madrileno street musician

From our hotel room on our first night in Spain. He had played earlier in the day as well so we were able to enjoy lots of beautiful music.

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For your viewing pleasure...

This one is overdue, as it's over a month old, but I thought it was so cute when she first starting dancing and tapping to the rhythm of music, so I just had to share it anyway.

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