Power

I find God in nature and music.

As is often the unfortunate case these days, when tragedy strikes (from nature or humans), we must all rush to social media to state our opinions.

One thing I have noticed the last 5 or so years is the amount of people who rage against “thoughts and prayers.” ‘Fuck your thoughts and prayers’ is trending on the Twitsville. I’m old so I can’t wrap my head around that thought process but ya know, freedom of speech and all.

Here’s the deal, sending thoughts and prayers for those in need in any situation only holds power to those who are believers in God and His promises. I happen to be one. I have seen and felt the power of prayer and I mostly keep that to myself because I don’t need to virtue signal my beliefs at every street corner. I have had small town busy bodies say that they’ll pray for me and an instant ‘fuck yourself’ forms in my brain but hopefully stops there and I have had others tell me they’re praying for me and I am comforted. Situational.

What I DO know is that while prayer can bring comfort, it does not wipe away pain. Cuz we’re human and humans feel pain. Anger can mask it for a time, but at some point y’all are going to have to deal with the pain underneath. There are many instances where ALL we can do is pray and for those who do not value this power, they don’t understand. I get it. I don’t understand the Cloud, we all have our crosses to bear. I don’t rail about it (FUCK YOUR CLOUD!) I just understand that this is a thing and cool.

And to those who want to say, “Ya butt the cloud is real and your God isn’t”, I reply with, “Oh yes He is you poopoo head.” People believe a vegan diet is healthy, you can’t fix everybody.

For believers, this one anyway, sending prayerful energy through the universe to a person or event is powerful. You can disagree, you’re wrong, but you can disagree. You do not hold the power to take this away from me. Sorry not sorry.

There are people who, while sending prayers, are also working in their corners of the universe to make the world better and some who send prayers and need to focus on their own survival. Both are okay.

Stop being such judgemental pricks, let people be comforted as they see fit.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Buddhist Proverb

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American Healthcare Kills Americans, News at 11!

Last week, we entered the hallowed ground of American healthcare. On Tuesday, as I was on day 2 of driving home from Savannah Matt called and said he didn’t feel good. Ok, that’s weird. It’s pretty rare that Matt doesn’t feel good INCLUDING when he brought the c-flu home from work one day and was a walking super spreader event all on his own. That time, he went to bed early and woke up the next day feeling fine.

This time was different. I rolled in after lunch and he had already canceled his work trips for the week. He stayed awake long enough to kiss me hello and then passed out for hours. I woke him up a couple of times to drink water and some bone broth and he went right back to sleep.

The next day was better but he complained of a tweaked calf and groin on his right leg and said it was a little swollen. Ok, what I’ve learned in the last week is that when the hothunkyhubs tells me something is swollen, I need to actually look at it (yes, that sounded dirty, no way around it.) But when you use words around here such as ‘tweaked’ and ‘swollen’ we automatically go to a muscle belly tear, even a small one and that’s normal enough in this house that it’s not even a blip on the radar.

By Thursday afternoon, after still walking around with a painful calf, Matt came into the gym and said that if it still hurts tomorrow he wanted to go into Urgent Care. Whoa, this is different. Something’s wrong. I asked if I could reach out to our neighbor who is a NP and a flurry of texts ensued. I was concerned about a blood clot as was she but she also brought up cellulitis, a serious bacterial infection. Uh oh, that one got my attention even more than a clot. My daughter had a serious blood infection in middle school and nearly died so I was far more concerned about infection than a clot (yes, I’m aware of how serious blood clots are and have experienced a loved one with a clot. It’s bad, in my experience, infection is worse.)

Our NP Angel neighbor said to go to the ED (remember when it used to be called ‘ER’ like, there was an entire television show called ER but suddenly we now say ‘ED’ like it’s different) immediately. She also sent us to a nearby suburb instead of the ER close to us to avoid the shit show that the largest hospital in Wisconsin can be. We walked in, were seen right away and once Matt put on his hospital gown and I saw his leg, I knew we were in the shit. Even writing this could make me cry, it was bad. Angry red all the from the foot to the groin and at least twice the size of his other leg although I’d go out on a limb and say it was 3x the size, especially down near the ankle.

A short time after Matt’s ultrasound, the nurse came in and stated there was no blood clot. She didn’t use her happy voice. This meant he had an infection and it was terrifying. Now, there IS some positive works around this. The first is that Matt has never been hospitalized before which helped him stay pretty upbeat throughout the ER. Another is that Matt is big and strong and completely confident in his ability to fight infection and to be fair, I took solace in that also. I already knew that he would be admitted so we started talking about the most important fact facing us in this moment as a married couple, how do I get him food since he hadn’t ate since noon. For realz.

As they were preparing where they were going to put him, one nurse came in and stated that unfortunately visiting hours were over and I wouldn’t be able to go upstairs with him. This got Matt’s attention, how was I going to bring him food if I couldn’t get in? ‘Dunno’ kind of felt like, ‘not our problem’ and now their perfectly pleasant patient was turning into hangry bear and good luck with that upstairs. I was 3 miles down the road on my way home when I got a call from Matt, “The charge nurse said you can bring me food, she’ll work it out with security.” Ahhhh, smart charge nurse.

Three pounds of steak & rice from Chipotle later with a happier Matt and a happy charge nurse, I headed home. Alone. Well, I had puppy and he helped some but the uncertainty that comes from a medical crisis is dark. If you know you know. It was a sad night and exhausted, stressful sleep came in bursts. Some of my stress came from knowing Matt didn’t realize what he was facing spending a night in the hospital and in fact when he said in the ER that he just needed some sleep, I tried to gently (ok, Jules version of gently) tell him that you do not sleep in the hospital. He smiled but he didn’t know and bless his heart, he thought I was being dramatic.

When I came back to see him Friday morning, breakfast sammiches in tow, he was tired. Still positive, but tired. That tiredness didn’t improve until this morning after he slept for 10 hours in his own bed.

Nearly 40 years ago, I was a candy striper (spell check wants me to add a ‘p’ to that word, uhhhh no thanks spellcheck) at North Memorial hospital in Minneapolis. I was put on the stroke/coma floor which was not very fun and actually pretty scary for a teenager whose first exposure to illness of others is on a nonverbal floor. I entered one coma victims room to clean up a bit and her family was visiting and praying for her. I tried not to be in the way and then noticed one of the pictures on the window sill was of one of my Sunday school kids! Super crazy. The woman DID eventually wake up which was nothing less than a miracle. OH, there was also a nursing strike when I volunteered so I got to walk through a picket line of people screaming at me for going in and I’m all, “I’m clearly a kid, what the fuck.” That was my first experience with unions, not super positive.

What I’ve learned in the last week is that hospital protocol has changed very little in 40 years since I was a candy striper. When I told Matt that he won’t be sleeping much, again, he thought I was being dramatic. Nope, dead on. It is shocking that we haven’t applied what we’ve learned, healing comes in good sleep. Every athlete on the planet knows that sleep is priority number one for good recovery. Number 2? Nutrition. Again, the hospital protocol fails Americans. The food served has not changed in 40 years. Now, look (shit gets serious when you say ‘look’), high school Jules adored eating 3 kinds of cake down in the cafeteria during my break and sneaking juice and cookies all shift long but I wasn’t in there trying to heal.

Luckily, Matt had someone bring him pounds of beef showered in salt (ya need salt dudes, even in the hospital) and salads from home so he wasn’t eating garbage all day although I did concede on breakfast sammiches each morning cuz they make him happy and full and he needed some of that.

To reiterate, every athlete on the planet knows that sleep and nutrition are THE most important factors in your training program yet our American hospital protocols take a monster sized dump on that notion and do what they’ve been doing for decades, prevent sleep and feed you absolute shit.

Why?

In the immortal words of Yellowstone’s Walker, “I ain’t dead yet!”

When Matt’s hospitalist doctor said that Matt needed to follow up this week with his primary care physician, we laughed and asked what that is. He didn’t seem too shocked that we don’t have a doctor which, to his credit, was refreshing. Why would we need a doctor, we’re not sick. Yes, Matt got sick and we’ve been exposed to the complete and utter failure of healthcare in America. This is the fault of everyone involved in healthcare. Medical professionals who don’t speak up, systems, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, politicians, administrators…everyone but the people all those groups are fighting to dictate how they will care for you and for how much. It’s mind blowing.

When I was 17, my fairly active mother fell from a bike while she was exercising my brothers sheep dog. One broken leg surgery plus staph infection later and she officially entered the world of, “I received a lot of love and care from this surgery so I’ll have an additional 20 more before I die.” Sounds fun, eh? She was addicted to the doctors appointments, the specialists, the 2 gallon sized baggies full of different medications and the attention they brought. No bueno. What’s worse is that she was the American healthcare system’s best friend, unlimited visits with good insurance. (In 2018, Bernard Tyson, then CEO of nonprofit health care giant Kaiser Permanente, made nearly $18 million dollars per the Google. Don’t try telling me non-profit hospitals don’t care about money, someone tried to do that once. Lol.) In fact, add ‘non profit status’ stipulations as part of the system that works against the average American in healthcare. It’s bottom line baby and if you’re not contributing to it GTFOH with your bad self.

Anyways.

When Matt was finally released, we had to go and pick up his pill form antibiotics to continue his progress at home. It was “called in and all ready for him” according to the nurse. Nope, it took 3 visits and a creative pharmacist to understand that if they didn’t have the large sized gel caps to make his prescription, she could put each dose in 3 smaller caps and sent him on his way. When he went in this morning to get his blood checked in the location (including exactly where to park) according to the email confirmation, they told him he was in the wrong place. They ran the test anyway but the experience tells me that it was up to their discretion to send him on his way and figure it out or actually help him. Kinda bullshitty.

What I’ve taken away from the entire experience is A) get big and strong and yes, big is subjective but a 145 pound male with ankles smaller than my wrists better have a competitive weight class listed behind your name or you’re likely just small and weak (I call it the Brookfield dad condition, they’re all over the place over there) and you’ve opened yourself up to the reality that you may not survive a completely survivable condition. B) you better know how to get healthy after an unhealthy episode and your doctor has no clue how to do that except hand you pharmaceuticals. Don’t know how? Find someone.

The last thing I’ve learned or at least have confirmed, is that the healthcare system in America is stacked against you if you are an average American. You will be harassed/bullied/given attitude (Matt’s ER NP gave me kind attitude when I asked if they’d be checking for a blood infection. “Why would we do that?” 5 minutes later a different nurse was in the room taking blood cultures looking for what could cause a blood infection. I didn’t point it out to the NP, that was your mulligan, you don’t get another one;) If you need to go to the pharmacy 3 times to get your life saving/sustaining medicine, you better make sure you have a car and the ability to take off of work to do so while someone watches your kids (I watched the puppy for Matt, I’m giving that way.) You also better make sure you have the tenacity to ask tough and direct questions of everyone involved because very few people in the industry appreciate being disagreed with. Stand firm, this is your life.

I’ve been reminded of the absolute goodness of people. The nurses and caretakers, our amazing neighbor who is stopping by later to check on Matt’s leg who has been tireless in checking up on us throughout it all and giving me important questions to ask. Matt’s parents who have been so supportive and our many friends who’ve checked in each day to make sure BOTH of us are okay.

I’m grateful that healing, health, and strength is a foundation of our living together, I couldn’t imagine living with someone who would hand over their health to a one trick pony “professional” who hands out meds like orange and yellow jellybeans and tells you they’re the best part of the jellybean bag and will cure what ails ya. Partnership with a doctor/nurse practitioner/nurse is paramount to moving forward in health. It’s going to take you a while to find one who is open to listening but when you do, it will be worth it. Probably, I’ve never found one which is why I also don’t have a primary care physician. Oops.

Lastly I’m grateful the hothunkyhubs is still around and we can look forward to celebrating the twins birthday; our granddaughter’s 2nd birthday; a Savannah wedding with our besties, and whatever else happens when he’s feeling up to it ( yes, that sounded dirty, no way around it;)

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breath, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Marcus Aurelius

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Living vs. Not Dying

In early March of last year, rumors started to fly that there would be an across the board “shutdown” of America. My response? HA! Will never happen. This is America, land of the free and home of the brave. Boy was I wrong. Turns out we’re not so brave and while America remains one of the freest nations on the planet, what we knew as freedom on March 5th 2020 vs. March 5th 2021 are two completely different versions.

But that’s okay because THERE’S A PANDEMIC!!!! Ya huh, but this is still America and governments can’t just restrict our freedoms willy nilly but again, I was very wrong. I categorically disagreed with President Trump’s decision to shut down America, still do. I knew what that would mean, it would mean that politicians on the state and local level would suddenly have power to tell me where I could go; what I would be required to wear, and these newfound powers would be long lasting, completely immoral and we would be dealing with them long after any pandemic comes to a close. FINALLY, I was right.

I had disagreements with friends (former friends on their part, turns out I can’t disagree and stay friends with more people in my life than originally thought) on how I perceived the dangers of lockdowns to a multitude of populations while the virus was very selective in who was in danger of becoming very ill or actually dying from it. The overall response was, “we’ll worry about that later” which I found to be absolutely disgusting, especially because every person who said it had few to none financial set backs due to the shutdowns. The attitude of, I’ll be okay so it’s okay for everyone while lecturing everyone else on what they should do is some kind of mental gymnastics that I don’t have the strength to tolerate.

Anyways.

Matt and I took a very measured approach in how we dealt with the loss of freedoms and the stress that came with it.

Post meet dinner at Elizabeth’s in Savannah was one for the books.

We lived.

Luau in Oregon with Mark & Victoria? Why not?

Now, contrary to lockdown proponents who believe in the “either”/”or” of living, we did not ignore that there was a large population of Americans who needed to take precautions against becoming sick with this particular virus. We watched the data. We realized that as people in their 40’s and 50’s, very strong with few (if any) comorbidities that even if we were to get sick, we’d be okay. That was according to the data, see, while you can politicize the reporting of data; the actual data does not lie.

We watched as “mitigations” became more and more ridiculous. We watched as people jumped into a meat case to avoid being within 8 feet of someone else at the grocery store (this happened); as a mother told her daughter that because I wasn’t masked (outside) that it meant I wanted her to die (also happened), and grown men decided it was A-okay to scream at women about a mask (happens regularly and no, I don’t view women confronting women in the same vein. A man screaming at a woman for ANY reason is so fucking unacceptable that I have lost respect for the general population of men.)

Mardi Gras in Tosa with Mark & Victoria? Of course!

And we lived.

We followed the science and knew that asymptomatic spread of a virus was a virtual impossibility. And we lived.

Charleston with the best tour guides beer can buy;) Thanks Steve, you guys were an absolute blast and a gold star on our year!

We traveled. We flew. We chose not to be afraid of our fellow humans while at the same time respecting the decisions of our friends and family who chose otherwise. We connected with those who did not feel comfortable with face to face meetings but truth be told, the zoom thing became old for me. If we have to, we’ll do it, but I prefer face to face fun.

10 days in Texas with Oz was one of my greatest gifts of 2020. Spending time with his girlfriend and his family along with pilots of the past were added bonus. Also, Mangolia Market cupcakes!

We tried, and succeeded, in keeping life as completely normal as possible and no, not this bullshit “new normal” model people keep trying to sell. Portland, picnics, Texas with our soldier before he shipped out for a year, Savannah for a meet (kudos to USA Masters who have already had two in-person meets run beautifully with not one case of Covid traced back to the meets), and various other meet ups with people throughout the year. Ya know, living.

Luca & Kulani are our pride and joy. They are the best of friends and we are completely spoiled with the time we get with them.

While I respect the grandparents who chose not to see their grandchildren, that was not our approach. Our babies are our joy and we’re so very proud of Zac and Zandra. We are blessed with good health for Luca and Kulani and gods willing, that will continue. Zac and crew have maintained Sunday family days pretty much every week throughout the year and having Zandra and Kulani at the house these last 6 months has been an absolute treasure.

All of this is not to say that the stress of the last year hasn’t been noticeable. We’re not robots so there have been days where it’s good we have 3 levels in our house so we each get one for the day. Heh.

In conclusion? The last 12 months has been status quo around here and I’m so very grateful for it. I have been disappointed in so many who have spent the last year with so much fear where the data says that it is unnecessary but ultimately, that is up to them.

But it begs the question, if you’ve spent the last year solely focused on not dying…were you really living?

Don’t be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Grace Hansen

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Hollywood and Professional Athletes Save World. 80,419 Nobel Peace Prizes awarded in 2020.

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Like a good little boy, big dude apologized for being a bad teammate.

First off, many thanks to the New York Times in helping me write my headline.

The first time I was offended by a sports star not staying in their lane was when Mean Joe Greene pushed Coca-Cola over Tab. It was distressing and confusing to this 12 year old who had already had to walk through some of life’s worse fires and I just wanted validation that Tab was a better choice than Coke.

Not really though. It was a good commercial but I thought the kid who got the jersey was kind of a wimp.  I mean, if you’re already hooked up enough to be hanging out in the Steelers tunnel, you’ve been waving that white privilege flag long enough to have a little sense of entitlement. Stupid kid.

One of the Charlie’s Angels (the most uninteresting one) sold me on Charlie perfume. Wore it for years until I moved on to Jovan musk. I then advanced to Sunflowers perfume with an odd day here or there wearing a Victoria Secrets scent that was super heavy but I was sold on the idea that I felt sexy when I wore it (but only on the odd day.)  I ended up with New West, still a favorite, and I swap it out in the winter with Blue from Dolce & Gabbana. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I shoot some Chanel No 5 in the air and then remember that I don’t really like the smell of it. The perfume game is no joke.

Anyways.

Professional athletes and Hollywood starlets have been endorsing product for as long as I can remember and in some areas of my life, their commercials worked. I regret nothing.

The reason professional endorsements are a multi-billion industry is because, hang on to your hat here, they work. George Clooney is the Billy Mays of super expensive coffee machines and he’s probably sold a few. This is because he has earned a following by being an actor. I first saw him on The Facts of Life. I didn’t like him, dunno why. Still don’t. I’m sure he’s crushed.

Something I do NOT remember about my childhood are professional athletes or Hollywood actors speaking out constantly on political issues. Two exceptions are Muhammed Ali (granted, this was spun by my dad who admired his athletic talent but wasn’t a fan of his) and Jane Fonda (with an Uncle who served in Vietnam, you did not bring up Jane Fonda’s name in our home. It took another decade or two for me to understand why but I knew that speaking her name was bad. So we didn’t.) This phenomenon helped formed my belief that we don’t want to hear from Hollywood or professional athletes on political matters. “Stay in your lane” is actually very 60’s and 70’s, catch up snowflakes.

I have always loved sports. I had a very brief career as a prima ballerina at Linda’s Dance Academy but then I got boobs and realized that standing on my toes for hours on end hurt my feet and I was peace out on that bitch. Sports though, I loved. Football; baseball; tennis (Martina Navratilova was one of my first favorite athletes. Her strength and unapologetic desire to win was something I wanted to relate to.)

I also loved the movies. Cleopatra; West Side Story; Giant, and one of my all time favorites, Gone With the Wind. I had the hugest crush on Clark Gable when I was young. I had no idea the man had died before I was even born, didn’t matter, I could get lost in his charm and sass and don’t even get me started on the brilliance that was Vivien Leigh. Although, for the record, I was in complete objection to her fascination with Ashley Wilkes. He was weak. So weak.

I’ve always liked older movies and musicals. Singing in the Rain; Gypsy; Sound of Music. Each movie allowed me to avoid, at times, the ugly of my reality and lose myself in make believe. I was in awe of the acting, the costumes, stories that brought me to other places in time. Sports do this too. Every fall for two hours a week, I had my dad all to myself on Sunday afternoon watching the Vikings play. All I had to do was work to understand the game and relish the time with Dad.

Fast forward 20 years or so to when I was outnumbered in my home by my children; going to school part time, and a full time job that was amazing in it’s pay and benefits but also it’s demands. By the end of each day, there was zero Jules left to go around. I don’t know how I did it but I did. You know what got me through? The Hoff.

Yup. Every Sunday evening I would make sure the house was in order and ready for the week; twins were in bed (don’t care that they may not have been sleeping, this is mom’s time), and lights were dimmed so I could enjoy one hour of Baywatch. Yes, Baywatch. See, I needed one hour a week to step out of my life and into the beach drama that I’m pretty sure was ripped off by the Emmy nominating committee year after year. It worked, I’d be raring to go every Monday morning and by Friday night, an exhausted me knew I only had two more days to go until that sweet moment where I had that one hour to myself to escape.

See, something that is being lost in all of the noise of discontent among pro-athletes and Hollywood actors screaming or kneeling about how “we” (“we” varies depending on the yelling) need to repent and feel bad about ourselves is that they are diminishing the very value they have. Entertainment. I do not believe their opinions are in any way less because of their occupation, after all, most of us are Americans and we get to express our opinion freely. At least we used to.

Hollywood DOES have value. To say they don’t is absurd. Most of us go to a movie here or there. Recently, while we were unconstitutionally forced to stay at home because of a flu, streaming services soared in popularity because we wanted to be entertained. That has value. Many of us miss sports. Sports is an opportunity to check out of our own reality and enjoy the talents of others. This has value.

Dear Hollywood and pro-athletes, you have value. You supply a needed and appreciated service to many of us. Thank you. Of course the glaring problem comes when many of you underestimate the value you DO have and feel the need to scream at the top of your social media at how each of us are failing at whatever you say we’re failing at in that moment. By doing this, you DIMINISH your value. Your voice becomes one of many who provide stress and divisiveness and you no longer have any value to me. If I want to hear how much America sucks, I’ll just open our local newspaper (but I refuse to to pay the .99 a year for access to it. Not remotely worth it.)

I want to swoon over Clark Gable. I want to be amazed at the strength and speed of Serena Williams. I want to laugh at the audacity of Blazing Saddles. I want to wistfully smile at the happy ending Lily James gets at the end of Cinderella. I want to see Tiger Woods win. I want you to use this amazing platform you have to allow us to escape, not to add to the vitriol of current “journalism.” At every turn, they are not understanding this.

Fans of sport and cinema are leaving in droves which, not surprisingly, makes people scream louder. Those of us who are shutting down the noise seem to be the one’s who are finding joy in life, especially as Americans. Those of us who are shutting down the noise are firmest in our foundations, which tends to make people scream louder. Watch closely, the quieter you are, the louder people scream. This makes it exceptionally easier to rid yourself of useless noise and hold tighter to the strongest voices who are quiet in their whispers and loudest in their actions.

The embarrassing thing is that my salad dressing is out-grossing my films.

Paul Newman

 

 

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