Friday, December 26, 2008

Time for a Fresh Start

Well, Christmas is over now, and so I'm turning my thoughts to 2009. Of course, that means New Years Resolutions. I usually try to make a few resolutions, and usually start out well and then, after a few weeks, lose my motivation. I know that this is the typical pattern for most people to follow, but I would really like to break that pattern this year. I do have a few things that I've been thinking of that I definitely want to accomplish in 2009.

First, I'd like to graduate from college, but, if you've been reading along, that should happen as long as I pass my last four classes! Next on my priority list is to lose some significant weight and get myself into better physical shape. I need to do this for my physical health, to ward off any pre-diabetes stuff. But, of course, I'm not really comfortable with the weight I'm currently at psychologically, I've become very self-conscious and self critical, and I'd really like to be happy with my physical appearance. I would really like to be back into the double digit weight range, but I'd happily settle for the low triple digits, hopefully somewhere between 100-115 lbs. So, major diet and exercise plans are underway and need to be launched soon.

I would also really like to simplify my life this year. For me, that means I need to get rid of a ton of crap that I don't use that is taking up the limited space in my small home! I really need to learn to let go of "stuff" and I need to better organize the remaining "stuff." So, part of that is organizing mountains and mountains of generations of family photos (which I inherited from my mother), and making permanent digital records of them, so that my brothers and Dad can also have copies. I need to clear out all of the useless paper that consumes me too. Hopefully I can sell a lot of this extra junk and make some money as well.

Perhaps the most important of my goals this year (aside from losing weight for my physical health and mental well-being) are my financial goals. I just finished reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, on the recommendation of a friend, and am really excited and fired up to follow this plan to get out of debt and build wealth. I totally and absolutely recommend this book and plan to everyone! I hope that I can pay off my debt and build an emergency savings fund as quickly as possible, so that I can actually use my hard-earned money, instead of sending it away every month. I also would really like to have as little debt as possible before I start nursing school, since I won't be able to work during that year. This includes paying off my car and all of my credit cards. I'll move on to the student loans and mortgage after that. I'm really hopeful about the life changes that this will bring about, though I am worried about creating and learning to stick to a budget. Sadly, I'm a little impulsive sometimes when it comes to money, I have decided that this will change.

I also hope that 2009 will afford me the opportunity to travel a bit to celebrate my graduation from college, and catch up with some family and friends that I haven't been able to visit for a long time. I'm planning a cruise for a graduation celebration. I would also like to do a long weekend in Las Vegas with some friends from out of state. Most importantly though, I really want to make the time to see my Dad, who I haven't seen in at least 7 years, so a trip to Oregon is in order.

So, I think this is a lot to accomplish in one year, five big goals, and of course numerous smaller ones. I hope that I'm able to really focus my energies and get these things rolling. I hope everyone, myself included, has a happy and productive New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I LOVE Christmas Music!!

I'm that person who doesn't mind listening to Christmas music for months straight, well actually, I don't just not mind it, I love it! (Yeah, I know, I'm that person everyone else hates) I was the girl in choir who wasn't even remotely bothered that we were singing Christmas music from October until January. I just never get tired of it, I could probably listen to it all year. I might even love Christmas music more than everything else about this season. I, of course, love the reasons why we celebrate this time of year, why we are kinder to others and focus on the true spirit behind the season, but for me, Christmas music embodies all of those wonderful things. I love the familiarity of the traditional old Christmas carols. It makes me feel like a child again, when all of the thoughts about Christmas and Santa Claus truly were magical and so exciting! My boyfriend finds this endearing about me (or so he says), and that more people should feel the way I do. I think he's just being nice...

I truly love the Christmas season though. If it weren't so cold outside, it might be my favorite time of year. I really enjoy buying gifts for my loved ones and trying to surprise them and make them happy. I love all of the cooking and baking that goes on. I always hope for a white Christmas, even though I am usually disappointed. I love to see everyone wearing their sweaters and scarfs and hats. I love putting up the tree, and those peaceful moments when you can just sit in front of the twinkling lights and relax. (I don't like taking the tree down, but then, that's after Christmas) I love that my favorite animal is a big feature of this time of year: penguins! I find it hysterical to see my cat under the tree, trying to play with her gifts through their packaging, or peeking out from a very sneaky hiding place. And I love that it means that a new year and a fresh start are coming.
So, call me crazy, but I love Christmas-time! And this time of year would mean so much less to me without the soundtrack of the season.

Here's a picture of my very own tree, my first tree, covered in penguin ornaments!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I just finished reading Marley and Me, crying my eyes out like a big baby. It's a good read, it had me frequently and uncontrollably laughing out loud, until the end. While I probably would have cried reading this no matter what, it reminded me painfully of Sheba, who died six months ago.
I've been wanting to write about Sheba for several months now, but I never really want to drudge up the painful memories of her death. It was the last thing that I was able to write in my journal, and I stopped halfway through, in tears, and haven't resumed the writing since. So, I feel prompted to give her a little tribute, though unlike Marley, Sheba was never really a bad dog, in fact she was generally excellently behaved, although she had her quirks.

Sheba was a black miniature poodle, and I brought her home on April Fool's Day 1992, I was ten. I had picked her out of her litter of three puppies (after begging my Mom for months for a puppy) because the breeders said, "If you want a cuddler and one that will let you hold her and baby her, she's the one." They couldn't have been more right about that. Sheba always needed and wanted constant physical affection or just connection-she nearly always had to be touching a person at all times (until old age), which was at times wonderful and endearing and at other times, enough to drive anyone crazy. But she was perfect for a ten year old girl: I dressed her up, painted her nails, wrapped her in blankets, made her lay in a baby cradle for hours on end, and even had her drinking water from a baby bottle.

She was unbelievably smart, even for a poodle. She was housebroken quickly and never destroyed anything. She easily learned commands and tricks and had a wide vocabulary of human words that she knew and understood. She was fast, like lightening as a puppy- and would dash off at the slightest opportunity. From day one at home (her first bite of table food was a single pinto bean) she generally refused to eat dog food for meals, she reserved her always available dog food for an after dinner chaser, like after dinner mints, when she had given up hope of receiving anymore people food. This eventually progressed to her being served her own plate of whatever was for dinner that night, and her begging and stalking of the kitchen whenever she determined that it was dinner time grew worse throughout her life.

She would dramatically snatch up whatever you told her you, or worse, the cat, "were gonna get" and refuse to relinquish the items, regardless of what they were. One time this included a fully wrapped ice cream sandwich that my Mom was teasing her with, and another time a full roll of quarters. Sheba loved stuffed animals, the smaller ones for "babies" and the larger ones for illicit activities, if they were white, she was in 7th heaven. She truly loved her "babies" too, and would lick them and play with them for hours. She had a hideous and huge stuffed turkey (picture Gobbles from South Park) that was larger than she was that she would drag around by it's scraggly neck, it was carefully confiscated and disposed of, but she missed that turkey for a long time after it was gone. My stuffed, huge, white Klondike and Snow bears were a favorite target for her to steal off of my bed, any chance she got. One in particular- a little neon dinosaur- was receiving an exuberant shaking while she was playing with it, until it's leg was ripped off. Sheba was horrified by what she had done to "Dino," and from that time on she refused to ever look at him again, even after I sewed his leg back on. She always came to greet you, frantically searching for the nearest "baby" or random toy to show you (not give you), frequently peeing with excitement. She would grin too, pulling back her lips to show all of her teeth when she was happy or excited- or forced to eat a dropped salt and vinegar potato chip that had to be eaten, since the cat might be interested in it.

The word "biscuit" could not be uttered in her presence, unless you intended to deliver on that statement. Her favorite "biscuits" were, naturally, the most expensive dog jerky treat at the store and were not negotiable. She never went outside, to go potty or go bye-bye or just wander around, without receiving one upon returning home.

Even though I don't think I was ever truly her favorite family member, though she loved all of us, she preferred my Mom or Aunt, she knew that she was mine, and would never disobey a command that I issued- even when released from it from someone else, until I gave the okay. This included sitting the corner, nose to the wall, in time out- for inordinately long periods of time (horrible, I know, but I was ten and clearly teaching my dog a lesson). Despite being fairly well disciplined, Sheba was horribly spoiled by all of the family. She slept in bed, under the covers, with her head on a pillow, with whomever she wanted every night. She begged and received food-including desserts- from everyone. And would insist on extended belly rubs whenever given the opportunity, scratching and pulling your hand back to do it's job if you tried to quit too soon. This behavior, of flopping over onto her back, legs splayed, scratching at arms and hands, refusing to move like a lead weight, was confusing to some outside of the family. It prompted one dog groomer to tell us that something was wrong with her, "she just kept falling over and laying on her back." This woman was clearly not a dog owner, any idiot should have known the code for "rub my belly." She baffled outsiders with some of her behaviors though, not just the groomer. When she was at the vet hospital after having emergency surgery to remove her infected uterus, she refused to eat, and they refused to let her come home until she did so. The office called and spoke to my Mom, clearly worried about her refusal to eat. They had tried everything, dry food, wet food, even trying to force it into her little mouth- she came home with food smeared all over her little face from their attempts. My Mom laughed at this and asked what they were trying to feed her? They of course responded with "dog food," to which my Mom replied, "Well did anyone offer her a sandwich?," this was of course common sense to us. Problem solved. They called back and reported that she could come home now, she had successfully eaten a sandwich.

Sheba also knew how to hold a grudge. Once, when running down the stairs, she tripped and tumbled down the last few steps. My Mom and Aunt saw this, and laughed. Sheba was embarrassed and never forgot that they had laughed at her. From that day on, whenever she got mad at my Aunt (or was left alone for too long) her choice spot to poop was in that Aunt's bedroom. Her intense stares could also guilt this same Aunt into getting off of the couch to get her people food outside of mealtimes, just to make the staring stop. Always human-like, Sheba was also no stranger to jealously. Mainly this was targeted at the cat, but also at anyone animal or human, who might take any of her attention. One Christmas both she and the cat got new beds. Regardless of the fact that she had just gotten a new bed, Sheba was jealous that the cat had gotten one. In retaliation for this, she crammed herself into the too-tiny cat bed (clearly uncomfortable) and refused to get out of it, simply so that the cat couldn't lay in it.

This is Sheba, on her own new Christmas bed, at her last Christmas.

It was very hard to see Sheba age. By the time she died she was mostly, if not completely deaf. Her eyes were clouded with cataracts and most of her teeth were gone. She was chubby, grayed, and moved stiffly after lying down for long periods of time. But, even though she clearly showed her age, she still had bursts of energy when she wanted to play and she was always up for receiving constant affection. I know that every dog owner feels that their pet is unique, but I don't think there has ever been another dog like Sheba. She was truly a family member to us, and it's still difficult for us to not talk to her like she's sitting beside us.

A few days before her death Sheba became increasingly sick, quickly. She was having difficulty breathing, and maintained an odd, strange posture with her neck extended to help her breathe- or gasp, really. She refused to eat or drink- even people food, including ice cream- and couldn't lie down because it made breathing more difficult. My Aunts and I took her to the vet, and though we were expecting bad news, we were crushed to hear that she was in heart failure. I couldn't bear to make the decision to put her to sleep then, I couldn't help but feel that I would be murdering her. I decided, as a last ditch effort, to try antibiotics, steroids and a diuretic, to be sure that it wasn't a lung infection, as there was fluid on her lungs- a side effect of the heart failure, and the cause of her breathing difficulties. This also bought some time for us. Initially, Sheba rallied with the steroids and diuretic, with the fluid off of her lungs she was able to breathe easily and seemed like her old self. However, one or two days later, her condition was the same, if not worse. It was definitely not an infection, and now I was faced with making the hard decision. I simply couldn't let her suffer and felt cruel for trying to keep her here, after over 16 years, I had to have her put to sleep.

I had dreaded this moment for years, always hoping that she would die peacefully in her sleep of old age, even crying at the thought of this day. My Aunts and my boyfriend and I said our goodbyes and took some final pictures of her at home, and then we all accompanied her to the vet. We were all with her, crying and petting her, as she went to sleep.

As strange as it sounds, in many ways, Sheba's death was more difficult for me than my Mother's. Not that it was any less painful, but I think it's because I did not make the decision to end my Mother's life. Even driving to the vet for the last time I was still having second thoughts, when her breathing seemed to ease as I was holding her in my lap, sobbing. I could never give up the feeling that I was making the wrong choice, or the hope that maybe, somehow she would get better.

This is the day before Sheba died, while she was rallying from the medications, I wanted a last picture of us smiling together, even if it wasn't real.

Sheba was an amazing little spirit, and I don't think I will ever stop missing her. Just the thought of having to go through a similar experience ever again makes me balk at the idea of having another dog. I could go on forever, recounting stories about her, but they're probably only funny and worth hearing time and again to my family and myself. Regardless, Sheba's 16+ years of love, entertainment, and annoyances deserve to be remembered. She was there with me from elementary school through college, and through many life changes, including the loss of my Mom. I think she left a lasting impression on everyone who really knew her, including my much loved cat, who loved to beat up on and chase and be chased by her dog, and came running at the sound of Sheba's collar tags tinkling on a video recording of her that we were watching after Sheba was gone, still looking for her sister. As painful as the loss is, I hope that everyone will, at some point in their life, have the opportunity to love and be loved by a four-legged person like Sheba, one that truly becomes a member of the family and leaves a permanent hole when they leave us because of the ways that they permeate your entire heart and life.

A family picture. My Aunts and I, with Sheba, before taking her to the vet on her last day with us.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I may have to leave a job I like very much, because of school. I'm freaking out about this at the moment. I typically work Tuesdays and Thursdays (and other days as needed) at the doctors' office, which is my main source of income. These days are our "busy" days, and we see probably 60-75% of our patient load on those days. The unfortunate part is that my last semester of college is quickly approaching, and I've been putting off these last classes until the very last second (obviously), but now ALL of the remaining classes that I need to take to graduate are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So there it is. I can't and shouldn't put off graduating to keep a job, I know this. Even a job where I love my co-workers so much! The reality that this would probably mean the loss of this job caused me so much stress that I was just about ready to throw up all day just thinking about telling my manager (who is also a good friend).

I'm hoping against hope that this will work out somehow. That I can change my schedule for just the 4 short months of this last semester (16 weeks, actually), and that I can work full-time once I graduate until I start nursing school. I don't have a good feeling about this, which is why I'm so worried. I hope that I don't have to find another job. Not that this job is perfect, nothing really is of course. But I really do love the people I work with, and we have some of the most fantastic patients, that I would really miss too. Of course, in my mind, I'm already trying to think of trying to find other work and what I will do, just in case. I've even offered to come in on our busy mornings until I have to leave for classes, mid-morning, but I'm not sure if this idea went over very well either...

Any ideas?

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Birthday

My birthday came, and went, in a haze of school work. It was the 10th, and my last day of final exams. I woke up early to finish a paper- ran it down to campus to turn it in, then came home and frantically studied for my exam that afternoon- took my exam, and then came home and worked on my last paper until 3 am to finish it on time. What a fun day! I did take a break for a couple of hours to eat dinner and chocolate cupcakes with my aunts and boyfriend and open a few presents. Pretty low-key for me.

Daniel and I will go out later in the next week or two to really celebrate, and by that, I mean go out to a nice dinner where I can probably eat a steak ;)

I must say though, the closer that this number creeps toward 30, the more freaked out I get! I just haven't done/accomplished all of the things I thought I would have by this point in my life. I guess that things will happen when they happen, not necessarily on my time-line.


Whew! My semester from hell is over! I hope the next one is better, or at least not as bad! With schedule changes in various syllabi I wound up having 4 major research papers plus final exams all fall within 6 days of each other, what a nightmare. Everything got submitted in the end though, and not too much was late.

I went in the week before finals to discuss GRADUATION with my advisor, and assuming I don't bomb any finals or otherwise mysteriously fail to pass my classes, I'm on track to graduate in May! I can't even believe that I'm 12 credit hours away from graduation, 4 more classes and I'm done! This has been such a long time in coming that it's almost too surreal to believe.

College has been a much harder road than I anticipated, not because the classes themselves have been difficult, but just because so much life has gotten in the way. When I started college in the fall of 2000 (I know, this has taken forever) I was a vocal music education major at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. I did that for almost two years, until I was in a major car accident in March of 2002. That accident caused me to move back home so that I could recover. So during all of this I took a few classes at Metro State to keep going, but not a full schedule. When I was finally ready to return to UNC in Greeley, about a year later, my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. So, I stayed in Lakewood and took care of her doing home hospice care until she died, nearly a year later. While she was sick, I kept taking a few classes, again, just to keep making progress, but nothing full-time. After her death, I did finally take a little time off to just regroup and try to get myself together. Unfortunately, by the time all of this had taken place, my full scholarship had exceeded it's time limit and now I would have to pay for school. This was unfortunate, but I'm glad that I made the choice to be with my Mom. I've had time since for school, while the time we had together was limited. So, I was finally ready to go back to school full-time, but now I also had to work full-time, so I've essentially maintained the very minimum course load to qualify as a full-time student, which also didn't save me any time.

Along the way, with all of this, I decided that music wasn't really where my heart was any longer, I decided that I wanted to get a bachelor's degree in Psychology, and start fulfilling the extra courses required to prepare for medical school. Well, now, after many extra classes, I've also decided that medical school is not for me. While I would love to have all of that knowledge, and the ability to practice obstetrics in the fullest possible way, I've realized that I don't agree in many ways with the biomedical model of care. But, from my work experience- and life-long obsession with babies and pregnant women- I do know that I definitely want to work in the women's healthcare field. I've decided that after getting my first Bachelor's degree, which will be a BA in Psychology, I am going to apply to nursing school for a second Bachelor's degree of science in nursing. I'm hoping to get into an accelerated one-year program. The accelerated programs are very intense (a whole 2nd Bachelor's degree in one year!), and expensive, but the trade-off for having zero life for one year is being done quickly. I think I can live with that-or at least survive it!

I think that nursing will be a good fit for me, personality-wise. I feel like I'm really good at working with patients and I easily form bonds with patients-maybe it's just that I currently get work with amazing women as patients. I also would like to work with fewer time constraints than physicians have, so that I can spend more time directly with patients. I think that nursing will provide a schedule much more conducive to having a family, which is definitely a priority for me. I really feel like nursing will provide me with an avenue to truly help others. When considering medicine, I was always interested in volunteering abroad, like with Doctors Without Borders, and nursing will allow me to do these things too. Eventually, maybe right away, or maybe a few years down the road, I would like to pursue a master's degree in Midwifery, so that I can finally do what I've wanted to do since I was 10 years old- deliver babies.

So, almost nine years in the making, I'm on the cusp of getting my Bachelor's degree. I'm proud of myself for sticking to this, despite everything that life has thrown my way during that time, and a little surprised that I didn't just give up- that would have certainly been easier at times. I will be the first one in my immediate family (and most of my extended family) to earn a college degree, which I'm also very proud of! It's hard to believe that my first college journey will be over in five months- just 32 days of classes left to attend (yes, I counted).

I'm so excited to be done! To finally feel like I've accomplished something!

Then on to more school, *sigh*, I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Race to the Finish Line

Holy cow! I can't believe it's been a month since I've written anything. It has really been one heck of a month, I've got a lot to go back and catch up on. The election!!! My pending graduation!!! My rapidly approaching birthday! My first Thanksgiving!

More than anything right now I'm just fighting sleep deprivation and constant stress. The semester is coming to a screeching halt and I'm frantically trying to catch up to it. I can honestly say, that to date, I've never had such a rough semester. That may of course be due to the fact that I wound up with 4 major research papers, plus final exams, all happening within less than one week of each other. Did I plan ahead? No. Should I have planned ahead and maybe started at least one paper early? Definitely. But, well, that's not really my style. I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of researcher! I'll admit that this is not the best strategy, but I always wind up with an "A," so I guess the mild heart attacks along the way pay off in the end. It has really helped to have an understanding and helpful boyfriend- from looking up references to frequently fetching take-out food, and just being quiet, Daniel has been an asset through all of this stress. In the mean time, for everyone else who has been wondering about me not answering my phone or the incredibly brief phone calls, my last final exam is on my birthday! Lucky me!! I should resurface then. Until then, anyone shopping for me can get me a timeturner.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I am ready to go crazy over all of this election nonsense! I have never been so invested in a presidental candidate or campaign as I have been currently. I have made sure to vote in every election that I have been eligible to, and have been terribly disappointed by the results of those previous elections. This is nothing to what I will feel tomorrow if my candidate loses. I actually really believe that he will win, but I have learned through experience not to doubt the power of stupidity and ignorance.

If Barack Obama does not become our next President, I truly fear for the future of this country. I honestly don't think that I can stand another four or more years under a republican presidency... I may look into emigration.

Go vote!!! Good luck Barack!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Trying to muster the energy...

I read plenty of self-improvement stuff, but I don't usually put these great suggestions into action. Not that I don't want to, it's just so time consuming! Right now there are so many things on my plate that I want to change that I'm really not sure where to even begin.

Drink more water. Exercise everyday, or at least 4-5 days out of the week. Get enough sleep. Go to bed at a regular, and reasonable time. Get up at the same (early) time every day. Stop napping. Eat healthier. Eat smaller portions. Cook more at home- eat out less. Keep my condo clean and organized. Go to all of my classes. Do my homework on time, do some every day. Write in my journal every day, or at least regularly. And on and on...

So, maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself- or maybe I'm incredibly inept at running my own life? I'm not sure. But I'm a perfectionist. This works both for me and against me. I do things really well, but I don't like to do them unless I know I can do really well. I'm a huge procrastinator. I'm also fairly lazy if left to my own devices- I would much rather do something fun and unproductive than exert myself needlessly.

So, I'm just generally stressed out and I feel like my "to-do" list never gets shortened. I keep wanting to get started on an exercise program, but always am finding excuses to not start today. I have too much homework, or a test at school this week. I'm too tired. I want to sleep in when I have the chance. Same thing with my dieting- I'm too tired to cook today, I'll eat healthy starting next week. I've decided I just need to suck it up and get on with it. Obviously, life isn't going to get any easier, I'm never going to find extra time. I have to make it.

So, back to the self-help reading. I read all sorts of diet and exercise info, research, etc. Some say to just focus on making one change at a time to turn it into a habit. But this hasn't really worked out for me so far, I kind of lose focus and forget what I was working on and then change focus. So, other research says that you have a better chance of making multiple changes- major changes- all at once. You have better odds of having at least a few of them stick for the long-term. So, starting tomorrow, this is what I'm tackling. I will get up early and go to the gym before class, then I will go to all of my classes, and on, and on...

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I am aware that this is a very touchy subject for most people, and understandably so, but I just thought I'd put my own philosophies out there in the universe; hopefully, they will prompt someone else to think of such things and maybe just start to make things better here. I know that this is a big order to fill~ I'm just hoping! *Warning: this is my longest post to date- but I've just got to get this out there* To a lot of people my personal/religious views (which are VERY conservative) are sort of conflicting with political views that are, well, pretty liberal. I can understand this, but please also understand that I believe SUPREMELY that this nation was founded on the separation of church and state; and that, as such, my religious views and personal decisions are just that, mine. I believe that my religious views have no part in politics and that they *while they dictate my life choices* should not dictate others', I would like the same respect in turn; religion is religion and politics are politics. So on this general principle I feel like the conservative right dominating a political party is wrong. I also feel with all of my heart that the Democratic party's view/position is just so much more socially responsible.

While my leanings are not entirely Democratic, in the last three elections at least, this has been the lesser of two evils for me. For instance, while I know some people are afraid of socialism, I believe that my country would not be in the dire position that it is in if the government *as I believe it should* provided (or oversaw) a few basic necessities of life for all of its people: healthcare, energy, and education. I do believe that our government could provide all of these things without dramatically increasing taxes (or potentially without increasing them at all) by simply appropriately spending the money that they do have and eliminating the outrageous waste that does occur. Additionally, while all of these things would initially cost quite a lot of money, over the course of time they would save a tremendous amount more. I'll go on about these three which I think are of paramount importance, although there are many other important issues too.

Healthcare is vital for all people. And more importantly, NO ONE should be denied healthcare or go bankrupt to try to obtain it. I believe that health, good health, is a universal human right, the world has the means and the technology to do this. The current system that we have in place is completely capitalistic and for profit- huge profits, I might add, and that it is truly disgusting. First, if the government controlled healthcare it could keep the costs lower- there would be no price gouging, thus making it more economically feasible. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies make huge profits and control the healthcare market, and insurance in particular, can also choose to deny anyone they see as a risk for costing them money. By having the entire population have equal access to healthcare, people could obtain adequate access to preventative care, which is far more cost effective than emergency care and high level care required to treat simple conditions that have escalated into true medical emergencies simply because they were not treated in a timely manner. Plus, research shows that people who receive regular preventative healthcare have better overall health.

Many countries with these sort of medical, dental and pharmaceutical plans in place have been a great success- see some of the documentaries I have recommended. I have personally spoken with people from England (and visited countries with these great systems), including healthcare providers, who advocate this as a great thing. Everyone is taken care of! Everyone receives the same, good quality care! Imagine that! Many people argue that they would begin to receive substandard care under such a system or have to wait months to be seen or to have essential surgeries or other procedures, but this is simply not true. First, all of our existing doctors would not just disappear and be replaced by new "government" doctors- they would still be here, doing their jobs, I'm sure, just as they always have. And lets be honest- when it's not an emergency, how quickly do you get in for a doctor's appointment now? I had to wait almost 3 months for a dermatology appointment this summer and it's usually at least 2 months out for a regular visit with my gynecologist. I work for physicians- when you are having an elective surgery, it is scheduled based upon the surgeon's schedule and the hospital's availability. But if you go into the hospital having a heart attack, they don't even check you in, you are seen immediately (because that takes priority over someone with a minor complaint). How long do you usually wait to be seen at the emergency room? Maybe if people could go to their primary physician when they were sick (because they didn't have to worry about not being able to afford it) they wouldn't clog our hospitals for common health concerns and they could operate more efficiently. This is no different than it is in any other country with free universal healthcare. And, in case anyone wasn't aware, Americans' health isn't that great. We don't even rank in the top 25 of developed nations for life expectancy, and we have poorer health and more chronic health problems, I personally think that for such a great nation that this is inexcusable, we can and should do better.

I personally, having experienced a major health crisis with my mother when she had lung cancer, remember the stress and the financial burden of something so terrible. Trying to find ANY insurance that would cover her, and then being charged over $500 per month in premiums for just her! And being told at the oncologists office that just one particular bag of chemotherapy medicine was $13,000! Just one, and she was receiving multiple medicines at one time. Or going to the pharmacy to pick up her prescriptions and having a 10 day supply of medicine cost over $300- $30 per pill!!! This is really criminal, and for many people it is life or death- what if it were you, or your mother, or your child?

I also strongly feel that if the government controlled our energy supply that the nation would be better off as a whole. Compare the prices you were paying for gas before George W. Bush became president, and now- does it cost you more to heat your home too? Now, while I dislike Bush, he is not the sole cause of these problems, but his oil policies have not made things any better for us. I think we need to incorporate several energy and transportation methods into the solution to this problem. While we definitely need to make use of the technology we have and implement more wind, solar and water power; I think the best and cheapest option we have available is nuclear power. We now have the technology to do this well, it's clean and unlike the past we can minimize problems. Nuclear energy scares many people, but we are far beyond the Chernobyl days. We have the open space in this country to relatively isolate plants and the technology to make them very safe. Nuclear energy is so much more cost effective, what costs us $30 a month now, we could get for $3 a month- and it doesn't pollute like gas does. We also need to repair and ramp up our train system. It is so much more cost effective to transport goods by train than by semi-truck, at least for long distances. Along the same lines, I think that every metropolitan city, or even every city with more than 75-100,000 people needs to have an excellent public transportation system in place, whether that be subways or trains.

And last, but certainly not least, the one that's hurting most of us the most right now- GAS. Wow, we really need to fix this one quickly! First, we're spending a ton of money rebuilding Iraq and they have a huge financial surplus, while we have a huge deficit. They should be repaying us for our services with their only commodity, which they have a ton of- oil- period. We should not be doing this for free, and we are the only, or one of the only, countries left doing so. Also, we should be using what oil deposits we have. I care very much about our environment, and want to keep it beautiful- I'm an Alaskan by birth and absolutely want that beautiful place to be preserved (along with all of our country's beautiful places), but we also have the ability now to extract our oil without destroying the environment around us- it just needs to be done responsibly.

As a student, education is a very important issue to me. I am working four part-time jobs to pay my living expenses (which are fairly modest) and have to take out student loans for tuition to put myself through school. This is not easy, in fact, it is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, but I think that the value of a college education is very high and the reward of a career that can adequately support myself and my future family (if need be) is worth this temporary sacrifice. I am also aware how many people never have this opportunity, or never take it because of the sacrifices that it entails. I think that education is something, like healthcare, that should be a basic human right. Everyone benefits from education individually, and society benefits from an educated populace. While my focus is mainly on making college affordable for all, this extends to all levels of education, which are sadly under par in this nation. I think that all state run institutions should be free, as a university education is in France, for example. Of course, if someone has the means to pay for an expensive private education or higher degrees, that's great, but a basic education, from pre-school on, including a bachelors degree shouldn't cause people $30-60,000 in debt.

How much better would your life be if you never had to worry about how to pay for your healthcare, especially if something catastrophic were to happen to you or a family member? Or if you could afford to go to college and didn't leave school with thousands of dollars of student loan debt hanging over your head? How much more productive would our society be if people were healthier and better educated? What about heating or cooling your home without fear that you can pay the rest of your bills, or that you can actually afford to travel to and from your job, so that you can afford to keep paying those bills? While I, like most Americans, feel that the government is already taking too much of my small paychecks, I would willingly have more taken out to have the security and equality that these measures would offer. I know that these changes are not likely to happen without some sort of revolution taking place, but I for one will continue to hope that someone else will realize the potential and good that would come from these things. Our country will quickly become a third-world nation if our middle class cannot afford to survive. We will have the very few rich and the rest living in poverty. We are living, now, more than half a century later with New Deal policies and politics (which were revolutionary and great for their time!), which no longer address our society's realities. Big change is needed for us to stay afloat, I'm just afraid that the nation is too afraid of the changes it will take.

Please get out there and register to vote! And then show up on election day and make changes happen!

Friday, October 3, 2008


I really can't believe that this person is a consideration for ANY government position, much less Vice President- and given John McCain's health record and age- lets be honest, she's one small step away from the real thing! I will admit, she did better than I expected in the Vice Presidential debate, but, then again, should the mere fact that she didn't screw up be considered a success? I don't think so. And, incidentally, she spent most of the debate talking about herself and trying to be as cute and folksy as possible- and I, for one, don't find it to be a positive or down to earth quality I want in a leader, I want someone who can be a professional and is actually well-spoken.

Here is a clip of her recent interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News:

Watch CBS Videos Online

I also strongly suggest you watch Tina Fey's spot-on impersonation on Saturday Night Live's website- it's hilarious and eerily accurate!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Food for Thought

I have been very moved by a few documentaries, and they are films that I wish everyone would see. For me, some of them have been educational, informative and mind broadening, others have been life-changing. All of them are biased in some way or another, though some are more objective than others- but, as humans, we wouldn't tell any story unless we were motivated to do so for some personal reason, they are enjoyable to watch all the same.

1. SICKO, a documentary about the deplorable state of healthcare in the U.S. and comparisons to other countries. Watch the special features on the DVD! This film literally made me want to pack it all up and get the heck out of this country.

2. THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, a documentary again about healthcare, but this time focusing on the care of childbearing women. WOW- eye opening!

3. SALUD!, a documentary again (I know) about healthcare, but this time looking at Cuba's amazing success at providing healthcare for all of its people, with a very limited budget. Also their outreach programs. If they can do it on so little money, ANY country can.

4. SUPERSIZE ME, a lighter hearted *sort of * documentary about the downside of the habit of eating fast food, and what it can potentially do to our health. Shocking (we all know it's not good for us, but this was a smack in the head) again- watch the special features for some additional truly surprising experiments. I completely swore off of all fast food for at least a month after watching this, which was a huge effort for me to do.

This list is not exhaustive, but a few that stand out to me. I have seen many other great, educational documentaries, I just can't think of them to add right now. Do you have any must-sees?

Saturday, September 20, 2008


For those of you who don't know, I'm LDS (or Mormon). I have been since I was fourteen, so about thirteen years now, almost half of my life. I totally and completely believe the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that Joseph Smith is/was a true prophet of God. But I have had some real difficulties in practicing/living these beliefs and all that being a member of the Church entails.

First, I'm basically the only member of the church in my family- technically, my oldest brother has been baptized too, but he (I think) adheres only to what he wants, and so it's not a supportive connection. In the Mormon faith, this is both unusual and makes things a little difficult. The church is VERY family focused and really places a high value on family- which I love! However, I kind of feel like I'm floating alone in that Mormon sea, with no family support to help me make the right choices or to set an example for me (not that I don't know what the right choices are, it's just hard when most of your family doesn't understand your religious views, and doesn't want to). Plus, it makes going to church, alone, a little awkward.

Since my first ward split, where I felt very loved, supported and included, I have really struggled to live the gospel and even just attending on Sundays has been really difficult. Since then, most of the people that helped support me and my new faith have sort of drifted out of my life. Needless to say, this has made my teenage and college years, a little difficult. I haven't always made the right choices and I've had to go through some really difficult events in my life without that support from my church "family." With such a lack of support, or really any contact with my religious community for literally, years now, it seems like it would be easier to just walk away and not worry about it anymore. But, I just can't turn my back on something that I know to be true, and that when I'm actively living these principles, makes me truly happy.

I've tried, off and on, since my "home" ward split to attend various wards and I've never found a place that has felt like home, or anyone who truly reaches out to me to try to bring me in and make me feel included. This has been especially hard since my mother's death, I think that in the four and a half years since her passing, I have literally only attended church once or twice- which I feel terrible about, but also kind of afraid to throw myself out there again. Also, I'm very embarrassed to have the church members that I do have occasional contact with to know that I'm not active, even though I want to be.

To further complicate matters, I now have a job where I have to work every Sunday, a situation that, without quitting, I'm not sure I can change. But the biggest roadblock for me right now is my boyfriend, who is not Mormon, not that he opposes my faith in any way, or me practicing it; but the truth of the matter is that me practicing my faith would change our relationship in so many ways that I'm pretty sure I would wind up losing him. This is something very hard for me to even think of, he has been with me through some very hard times in my life and has really become my best friend. I can envision marrying him very easily, I love him and his family completely, except that he's not LDS. I wish that he could open himself to the gospel, because I really believe that if he did, he would learn for himself that it is true, but he is very opposed to religion in general- and I don't want him to be baptized only for me, as that would not accomplish what I really want.

I really strongly feel that it is vital for spouses to be on the same page religiously/morally, etc. to raise a family together, and this is a common foundation that I've always held as an ideal for myself in marriage. I come from a family with divorced parents and I don't want that to be the life I lead. Mormon marriages, and in turn, families are some of the strongest and happiest I've ever seen, and I desperately want that for myself (I'm not saying that they're perfect, or that non-Mormons can't be happy or have good families, it's just something that I've observed). I'm sadly afraid that this will be the breaking point, eventually, in my current relationship- I truly hope that it won't be.

For now, I'm slowly trying to work toward getting back to church, where I'd like to be, but I feel like I have to ride out some of these life situations that are preventing me from doing so (like being able to survive financially without working on Sundays). I hope that, when I have the courage to jump back in fully (and pay the price for mistakes I've made, repentance is never easy) that I find the support I need to make the transition easier. Wish me luck...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Health and Such

Well, I've been trying to lose weight and get into better shape for a while now- four or five years really, but actively since March when I joined Weight Watchers. I do really well for a few weeks, then sort of fall off the wagon, gain back a little, and then get re-motivated to start again. Ultimately, I'd like to lose 50-60 lbs, but I realize this will take some serious dedication, and exercise in addition to dieting. My college student and work schedules generally leave me exhausted, so I usually don't want to cook dinner, so... fast food + being exhausted (and not really enjoying exercise) = poor eating habits and not nearly enough exercise. But, I'm working on it. I've lost a total of 11 lbs so far.

To complicate matters, and scare the crap out of me, my doctor told me in August that I'm pre-diabetic in addition to my slow thyroid problems. So, even more incentive to really commit to losing weight. If I can lose the weight then I may prevent diabetes all together, or at least put it way off into the future (and reduce my risk for heart disease which often co-occurs with diabetes. Lucky me, I have a strong family history for both!). The downside is the medication that I'm taking to help aid my weight-loss and control my blood sugar- Metformin ER- makes me feel rotten: nauseous, headachy, tired, and swinging from extreme hunger to no appetite. So, I really feel like heading to the gym feeling this way!

Hmm... That might be depressing enough for today :) It can only get better from here, right?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Off to a slow start

Well, so much for writing on this thing frequently! Summer school came and went, and I did well. And then the Fall semester started, and it is kicking my butt! I can't ever remember having so much work to do- EVER. But, maybe I'm just feeling the pressure more since this is my LAST year- woohoo!!!! So, no room for do-overs or failure, which is a little scary, at least if I actually want to graduate in May- and I am desperate to do so. On top of the crazy school schedule, since May I've been working not one, not two, but four part-time jobs! And to really top the cake, one of my classes requires a volunteer work project too! So, needless to say, I'm ready to pull my hair out, and most days wind up taking a nap to cope with the stress and just not knowing where to start. I have quite a lot that is happened in the last few months that I would like to go back and catch up about writing on, but that will happen as time allows.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Here I go...

Well, as I've spent many of my recent waking hours absorbed in other people's blogs, I thought I'd give this thing a shot. Not sure yet what direction I'd like to go, so I'll see how this evolves!

A note on the name: Snippet

As I sat blankly staring around, trying to think of something meaningful that would sum up me, I discovered that there isn't anything that would. At least not one singular thing- I'm a little bothered that this small task was so difficult...

So, I tried to think of something catchy, something no one else has named their blog yet, something random- since I can't seem to describe myself in one word. So, Snippet bounced into my head and- being the dork that I am- I looked it up: Snippet: a small piece of something. That actually works for me! Physically, of course (for anyone who knows me). But also it doesn't really tie me down to much- it feels a little freeing. I see this as kind of a personal outlet, a journal, a place to rant, whatever I want really- without having to worry about what anyone else thinks about what I have to say (which I tend to do very often).

I'm still not sure I want anyone who actually knows me to know about this blog~ again, I guess I'll see how this evolves.