Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sign of the Times

Everyone it seems is having financial difficulties. We can't turn to any form of the news without hearing about how bad the stock market is, how much trouble small businesses are in or how much more heating and medical care will cost. So what's a person to do?

I've often talked about how I grew up without much of anything. I started working at eleven years old to buy my own clothes, food and lots of other things but I don't remember worrying as much about medical care as I do today for my daughter. Don't get me wrong - we often didn't receive medical care because we didn't have the money but it wasn't as disruptive as it seems to be these days and obviously I'm alive to talk about it. I actually remember as a young child when I was ill that the doctor made house calls. I also remember my mother taking me to the doctor and the office visit cost $10.00. That wasn't the co-pay, that was the cost. Even then my mother still had to work out a payment plan because after all there were seven of us - children that is.

Now, I'm only 52 so we're not talking that long ago - not really - but it makes one wonder as to what happened to our medical system and living environments that it costs so much money to receive any kind of medical care and that we need so much of that care. Interestingly, clinics are popping up in pharmacies and other places to offer more convenient and affordable care to the masses. Now there are critics of this system of course, but I'm a fan of my local convenient care medical facility, especially on the weekends. I always followup with my primary doctor but then I have health insurance and a stable job AND I live in a community that has lots of resources.

Whatever the reasons are that we have the medical care system we have, something needs to be done about it. It's gotten to the point that people are afraid to retire, not only because of the economy and the loss in their retirement funds, but because most companies no longer offer medical care into retirement. So, if you retire prior to 65 (when you're first eligible for medicare) you have very limited and very expensive options. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years, but I'm significantly disappointed that we've reached the point we have. I think there's lots of blame and responsibility to go around, including with each of us.

I decided several years ago that I needed to be my own advocate when it comes to health care and many, many other aspects of life. I've been modifying many areas of my lifestyle in terms of nutrition, exercise, mental and emotional awareness, and overall quality of life. I often tell people the best way to stay afloat in retirement is to stay healthy and happy. One of the best ways to do that is with exercise activities such as yoga. I'm declaring myself an unofficial cheerleader of yoga - except no pom poms. (I actually had pom poms in high school when I was a member of the school drill team but these days they seem to have a very different and cruder meaning. Okay, so I have those too!) A sense of humor is also extremely important in living a healthy life.

I attend two different yoga classes right now and have two different instructors and sometimes there are substitutes for my weekend class. But I especially like my one instructor during the week. His yoga class is one of the highlights of my week. He just has that right blend of knowledge and funness (okay, so that's not really a word - is it?) that makes the class a pleasure. Sometimes it's a painful pleasure depending on what he has us do to include attempting to stand on our heads. I strongly believe that with something like yoga one has to make it a part of their lifestyle for the rest of their life and having an instructor one can emotionally and mentally connect to is, well priceless.

So, get out there and take care of yourself. This financial crisis will pass. It may take a few years but hopefully we're all learning something about ourselves and our world as a result, and that we will make the changes we need to make to live a life that can withstand the ups and downs that are always going to be a part of it. My prescription? Take two yoga classes and don't call me in the morning!

Stay healthy and happy.

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