Category Archives: Life

Save the Ta-Tas

My Medical Choice vs. Health Care Reality

 

“My Medical Choice”, is a recent Opinion piece in the New York Times.  It is an article written by Angelina Jolie in which she shares her story about choosing to have a preventative mastectomy.1   Also called a prophylactic mastectomy, she chose to have this surgery because she was diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene.  She’s speaking out about this to spread her story in hopes that she may encourage other women be proactive.

“Today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”  -Angelina

Prophylactic mastectomy is a surgery that only women with a very high risk of breast cancer should consider.  Contributing factors to being high risk are women with a family or personal history of breast cancer, and women who carry the abnormal genes known as BRCA1 or BRACA2.According to Angelina’s article, her risk was an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer.

People are calling her “brave” for speaking out.  I assure you, she is brave; it’s tough to share personal information such as this, even if you aren’t a celebrity.  Her message is one of great intention too, however I believe she has missed the mark.  The cost of testing alone for BRCA1 and BRCA2, is more than $3,000 (in the US) while the cost of the surgery is over $15,000 and this does not include the reconstructive breast augmentation.  And of course these costs “may or may not be covered by insurance”, most likely not since it would all be considered elective procedures from a “proactive” standpoint.3

I am glad Angelina is brave, and telling her story.  The downside is that she is most likely only reminding the majority of American women that we don’t have the same means to pay for health care as someone of her income does.  Her message will help a limited number of women who can afford to be proactive as she has.  However, most of us can barely afford our health insurance premium let alone elective genetic testing.  With our current health care system, the rest of us will have to sit and wait until we receive the cancer diagnosis to do anything about it.  It would be great if Angelina could direct her message to the insurance companies and health care providers to advocate the preventative screenings for cancer, including genes such as this to be covered by insurance.

I may be out on a limb here, but what we need are people of Angelina’s status to speak out about the health care system’s need for reform.  The Affordable Care Act is only the first step in a lengthy process of changing the system to catch up with the rest of the industrialized world’s health care systems.  With more advocates for reform from well known people, we may be able to rise from our current rank as 37th in the world for health care (in case you don’t know, that’s a terrible rank4.) As CNN’s contributing writing Arthur Caplan says it best, “Jolie’s story reminds us that we need to adjust our health care system from one that pays for treatment to one that also covers prevention.”5

 

 

 

1. Jolie, A. (2013) My Medical Choice. New York Times Opinion. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/opinion/my-medical-choice.html?_r=3&

 

2. Mayo Clinic. (2011). Prophylactic mastectomy: Surgery to reduce breast cancer risk. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prophylactic-mastectomy/WO00060

 

3. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. (1998-2013) PROPHYLACTIC MASTECTOMY. Retrieved from http://www.bcbst.com/learn/treatment-options/prophylactic-mastectomy.shtm

 

4. WHO (2013) World Health Organization Assesses the World’s Health Systems. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/whr/2000/media_centre/press_release/en/

 

5. Caplan, A. (2013) Angelina Jolie’s brave message. CNN Opinion. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/14/opinion/caplan-angelina-jolie-mastectomy/index.html

sometimes quote

Stop Thinking! Right Now.

Whoever said the quote in the image above, was inadvertently encouraging people to meditate.  Sometimes when you focus on what you shouldn’t do, you do exactly that, like hit the tree with your frisbee.  So it seems counterproductive to tell someone, “don’t think”, “don’t wonder”, “don’t imagine”, and “don’t obsess”.  Won’t this cause them to do just those things?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-disc-golf-image22119950

 

What happens when you tell someone to “clear their mind”?

  • clear your mind
  • find the stillness within
  • focus on only love

Sometimes a reminder of what NOT to do, is just as important as what TO do.  If that someone you told to “clear their mind” is anything like me, they will try but then all the thoughts come in.  We need a guide to remind us of what we shouldn’t be doing.

If you are at all familiar with meditating, you will know that you can find hundreds of guided meditations.  Generally these are positive imagery, “Imagine a light radiating from your heart.”, sorts of things.  I’m all for this, but what about that little disconnect between imagining the light and every day life?  The moments when you are so overwhelmed and consumed by something frustrating, that focusing on “nothing” is nearly impossible?

 

How do you focus on the void between the trees, when those trees are in technicolor and smacking you with their branches?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-alpine-trees-abstract-rainbow-pencil-series-image20905405

 

It’s easy.  First we BREATHE, and then we must give these trees our attention.  In order to make peace with the trees we must acknowledge that they are there, and they are hurting us with their branches.  The trees won’t stop unless we tell them their behavior is annoying us, that their technicolor glow is blinding our eyes from seeing the path we should be on.   When we have done all we can to acknowledge the trees, we can tell our brains to stop thinking about them, to not wonder what the trees are doing, to not obsess over the trees, to not even imagine the trees exist.

That’s our “Aha” moment.

We’ve let the trees go.  They have vanished into the great beyond.  Now we can shift our perspective to the radiating light.  Now the “clear mind” seems possible, right?  Now we can focus our faith on manifesting the BEST!

 

hand tools

Adventures in Compost

My son has been begging me to plant seeds and grow our own food for years.  The problem was that we had just bought a house in Colorado and the yard was in horrendous shape.  I’m talking, nothing but dirt and river rock on the back yard.  The dirt was due to no one ever watering the grass, the river rock was a poor attempt at landscaping.  So I spent the first many years picking rocks out of where the lawn should be, and then moving tons (as in weight) of rock out from where I wanted to install a garden.  Then much labor was involved installing a retaining wall made of timbers, and concrete garden wall stones.  I even stress fractured my wrist chiseling away at the hard clay with a pick axe.  Talk about dedication! This post isn’t about the whole process of getting my yard in shape.  It is about my adventures in composting.

We’ve lived here for 5 years now, and I’m happy to report that I’m almost ready to plant a garden.  I even have seeds sprouted.  Before I can do that, I need soil in my garden.

sprouts

Sprouted Seeds =)

Last fall, my garden area was finally ready to be filled with soil.  You see I’m from Ohio, where generally you can stick a seed in the ground and it will grow.  In Colorado, even if you are planting native plants, you will need to water them profusely to get them established.  This is why my garden is a raised bed, also it’s on a bit of an incline.

Last Fall

Garden Area before soil amending

Actually, in this picture, there are already some leaves in there for composting.  After pricing garden soil at about $500 to fill this area, I decided to make my own.  In comes the compost.  I started by filling the space with as many leaves as I could get my hands on.  All of them from my yard, and two of my neighbors’ yards.  The branches were of course moved out.

Siloh in the compost midwinter

My dog loves the compost like kids love ball pits.

Here it is mostly filled.  Actually at one point it was filled to the brim with leaves.  Here it is already compacting.  It sat like this over the winter, with the occasional turning on warm days.  I also watered it from time to time, because we had a really dry winter.  Come spring I realized that while my pile was composting, it kept shrinking!  I needed more soil.  So I purchased a few bags of organic garden soil and began chipping away at the slope by the fence and mixed it in.

Spring first amendment

Adding Organic Soil

And then I realized that this was still not enough. So my greenhouse farming friend gave me the leftover soil from a recent harvest.

Spring 2nd amendment

Amending compost the second time.

See it’s getting fuller, but now it needs to be mixed up.  I liked to think of this like baking cookies.  Only instead of using a hand mixer to combine the flour, sugar, butter, and chocolate chips… I used a pick axe and a shovel to blend wet leaves, food scraps, and dirt.  The difference being that baking cookies smells like vanilla, compost smells like decomposing wet leaves.  Oh, and cookies take about 15 minutes with minimal effort, this took 4 hours of manual labor!

hand tools

As I worked, I kept envisioning my baby kale, turnips, beans, corn, carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce that are anxiously awaiting to spread their roots in the earth.  Then when that wore off, I began envisioning the beer I would treat myself to when I was done.

 

Compost is wet and messy.

Compost is wet and messy.

And finally, my compost was like cookie dough only instead of chocolate chips it was full of worms.  Glorious, fat worms.  Worms are of course necessary for compost.  So fat worms in early spring show that my compost is working.  It’s full of nutrients, and it’s keeping warm enough for life even under 14″ of snow!

Compost after turning 4/21

In all it’s glory

It’s supposed to snow again tonight, yes in mid April.  Also, obviously my soil isn’t 100% ready for planting.  So keep your fingers crossed for me that by next month in mid May when the danger of frost has finally past, that this pile is glorious black gold (of the fertile earth kind).

See? Like a ball pit made of stinky wet leaves. Dog heaven.

Look for an update on my garden next month.  In the meantime, I may post about my adventure in xeriscaping the front yard.

 

love & light

~Anne

 

 

 

 

Bee in Maine

We Need the Bees!


I’ve always found bees fascinating.  My son is terrified of them due to a freak bee sting many years ago during a daytime Halloween event in which a bee fell in his shoe and stung his foot.  So over the past years I’ve been explaining that despite that one sting, bees are actually very good creatures and are an integral part of our existence.  Also, he loves honey, so that helps =)
A Bee in Maine

A Bee in Maine

Facts about Honeybees:

>They are not native to the USA. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers.

>There is only one queen, which is the only fertile female. She mates with multiple males, and lays up to 2,000 eggs per day.

>They have control over the society of their hive. Unfertilized eggs are male, fertilized eggs are female. They choose with egg will be a new queen by feeding it royal jelly.

>Nearly all worker bees are female, they live all winter long, but only 4 – 6 weeks during summer. Worker jobs are assigned as housekeeper; nursemaid; construction worker; grocer; undertaker; guard; and finally, after 21 days they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. Becoming a forager is the equivalent of “putting a cow to pasture”. While an integral part of their society, this signifies the end of their life as the literally work themselves to death. Females only sting if provoked. Since they have a barbed stinger, using it will result in their death.

>Drones are male and kept in the hive on standby for mating. They have no stinger but their reproductive organ is barbed, so using it will result in their death. In winter, males drones are of no use and are kicked out of the hive (death).

>One hive collects about 66lbs of pollen per year. Without bees, our plants, trees, flowers etc. would not grow.

>In conclusion. Women rule among the honey bees, literally. Every time you eat honey, remember, this was brought to you by hard working women that died creating their sweet elixir that provides us with many medicinal benefits.

>No Bees = No Pollination = No Plants = No Food = No oxygen = Earth Dies = Humans Die

>A honey bees society is a lot like Wicker Man. Except instead of fire, they kill their men by letting them freeze in icy winter.

More about Bees:

“NOVA chronicles a year in the life of a bee colony with stunning images that take viewers inside the innermost secrets of the hive. The documentary team spent a year developing special macro lenses and a bee studio to deliver the film’s astonishing sequences. These include the “wedding flight” of the colony’s virgin queen as it mates in mid-air with a drone; the life-and-death battle between two rival queens for the colony’s throne; and the defeat and death of a thieving wasp at the entrance to the hive. The show also explores such mysteries as the famous “waggle dance” with which scout bees signal the exact direction and distance of nectar sources to the rest of the hive. A vivid picture emerges of the bee’s highly organized social life, revolving around the disciplined sharing of construction tasks, the collection of nectar, and warding off enemies.Original Broadcast Date: January 4, 2000″

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Bees =)
love & light
~Anne

source:
http://www.backyardbeekeepers.com/facts.html

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my brand new blog!  It was time for something new, and here it is.

I’m a relaxed person that likes to go with the flow.  I have strong opinions on some things, but I also understand that a wise person must learn to adapt with new information, facts, and they have to adapt to their surroundings.  Ultimately, life is ever evolving, and we all do the best we can with what we are provided with.

This blog intends to do just that; flow, adapt, and evolve with life.

Real happiness lies in that which never comes nor goes, but simply is.

Sometimes wisdom comes from a bag of tea.

love & light

~Anne