A Letter to Anu Partanen

Dear Anu,

I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up your book The Nordic Theory of Everything.  Yet once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  Then I got to the end and my reaction was: why did you stay?  Love?  Wouldn’t you both be better off if you followed the Nordic System of Love?

Some days I would give up everything to have unquestioned access to healthcare and free college and a system that values education and learning.

Yesterday a friend told me that a 10 year-old family member wants to kill themselves after being bullied for an entire school year by a teacher.  The teacher is not being disciplined.  Would this happen in Norway or are teachers as strongly vetted as they here in the US?  You mention about teachers not being able to teach but not about how they treat their students.

Recently I had to pay $125 in order to get a prescription for a $5 bottle of amoxicillin.  And I had to tell the doctor what I had.  I find this is the experience of most people here in the US.  They have to go in prepared and already done their research when talking to a doctor.  Does this happen in Norway?

In college the choice was pay for college or have health insurance.  I was furious when I received the insurance company packets and they said because I’m a woman, my premiums were four times that as a man the same age as myself.  (Never mind that male teenagers and young adults pay higher car insurance but I don’t think the insurance would have been as high as those premiums I was quoted.  My car insurance was a drop in the bucket compared to the health insurance.)  All of those packets went into the recycling.

I was also working full-time while going to college and my employer paid me out of three separate accounts so that it would look like I was part-time and they didn’t have ot give me benefits. And these were local politicians.

Speaking of politicians, they use the word “reform” for healthcare here in the US.  Does this strike you as strange or weird?  They should turn away the lobbyists and bling and set limits on drug costs and a whole other host of items.  Yes, I know equipment costs money but sometimes….Yet all they do is talk, talk, talk and no action.  Well, usually it consists of bucking and fighting whatever is being presented and then knocking it out when new people are elected.  Price setting in the current way of being and thinking would never work here out of pure greed.

Have a job after many months after having a baby?  What concept is that?  I know people who have gone back to work 4 days after giving birth.  Again, large corporations cry and complain, yet as you point out, it’s a boon for new entrants into the workforce.  Just a huge “WOW” is all I can say.  Even if most women don’t express it directly, I’m sure they would give anything to have this after having  a baby.  And money to boot?  I’d work three jobs to get that money back when I need it.

Your work dredged up a lot of not-so-pleasant memories and reactions, my own personal reactions, mainly being upset about how this system is available and it works yet out of greed people and corporations claw at it and fight it every chance they get.

People here in the U.S. are split in different directions regarding healthcare.  However, I’m seeing more and more people on social media venting their frustrations and people are wiling to have “socialized” medicine because our system of care sucks and as one woman pointed out, due to the lack of specialists, she already has to wait six months for an appointment anyway.  I’m glad to see that you brought up medical bankruptcy.  One woman I know, and her husband died, is now $1 million in debt for his cancer treatments and she has small children.   I can’t imagine.  This is another “taboo” topic.  Why?  Why can’t we have conversations about this and make changes?  Nobody wants to talk about it.  Is it the stigma that going through bankruptcy means that you have failed?

One item you referred to but didn’t mention is that going on individual State benefits opens the door to the individual State to freeze your assets and/or take the money from your estate before your heirs receive it.  Does this happen in Norway?  I’ve heard stories of families in probate court have a State official show up at the probate hearing and submit the documentation for the State to take the amount in benefits that the person used for food stamps et al. while they were alive.  The State gets the money first and then the family can split the rest.  Some people don’t know this and I know some people just don’t care.

I don’t know how it is in New York.

I’m glad you wrote this book and I hope everything is working out for you here.

Sincerely,

Angela

 

 

 

 

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Caleb’s Crossing

Even though this book is a work of fiction, Caleb’s Crossing could easily be used as a jumping off point to teach early American history, women’s studies, Native American history, colonial history, and much more.

It was fascinating to read this as I have visited both Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and the Mashantuckut Pequot Museum in Ledyard, Connecticut.  This is one of the many parts of American history I shake my head in sorry at and feel like Western civilization trampled and nearly killed off peoples who could have helped this country on a different course.  What Geraldine Brooks writes about is a “missing” piece of American history.  I will especially never look at Harvard University the same way again.

Two Suns Rising

This book opens with a quote by Rumi.  Rumi has come to be my favorite poet and philosopher after Abraham Joshua Heschel.

Rumi writes that “today is your day”.

Today is always your day and you just need to recognize that.

The author, Jonathan Star, whoever this is, puts together a compilation of sacred writings with regards to love and higher power throughout the world.  Reading this, I wish I had read it earlier yet realize I read this at the right time in my life.

I wish I had had this for some of my undergraduate classes.  The writing is pure and down-to-earth at the same time.  One can feel the power put through the words shared.

Pot by the Road (A Client Story)

I saw the pot on the side of the road.  Just sitting, all alone.  It looked as if someone had taken it out of a car and forgotten it.  It was March, too early for leaves or flowers if there were to be any on its’ branches.

I was back a few days later.  That pot was still sitting there.  I drove over and swung the car around so my passenger side door was next to it, parked, got out, opened the passenger door and tossed the pot it.  I drove home carefully that day, trying not to knock it around.

When I got home I found a shovel and planted the plant in there.  A few weeks later pretty dark pink blossoms appeared.  In the two years since, it gives me the same blossoms each spring for a few days.

Those blossoms remind me of the client I was seeing when I found that pot.

The client was a third party referral and third party payer, something I appreciate because I know once the contract is signed and then I turn in my hours, I get paid.  Yet by the end this one brought more of a story than I was expecting.

My client lived in a condo complex off of a main artery that had a gated parking lot.  They didn’t drive so they didn’t have the pass code to the gate.  No problem, I waited for someone to come in and park in the unmarked spots.  No one bothered me until one day a man started following me from the building to my car and was threatening to call the police.  I thought it was because of the gate but I quickly realized he thought I was pimping.

I had the municipality’s non-emergency police dispatch number in my phone less than five minutes after I was home that day.

A bit of background: due to the third party arrangements, the client’s guardian squeezed every minute out of me they could get and refused to take less than an hour and a half at one time so I just made the sessions two hours to lessen the amount of times I would have to go.

The next time I just parked on the street and wedged myself through an opening in the gate.

Driving home I would have the windows rolled down.  The condo had a very interesting smell and my significant other would comment when I walked in the door.  Those clothes were immediately stripped off and in the washing machine.

The longer I was with my client the more I found out that helped some things I had observed make sense.

When I talk about my 85% to 90% success rate, this client was one of those I don’t know the outcome or outcomes.  I was summoned after they had failed their licensing test the first time and met the usual resistance.  They had certain expectations and their guardian had others.  The meticulous notes I found in the book and paperwork were not my client’s.  The second time their score went up yet it was still under what the State was requesting.  We used up the hours right before they were scheduled to take the test a third time. I left my client with a detailed, written instruction list of study tips, review tips, piles of organized flashcards, a notebook with notes, and a message of it is up to you to study for this.

I called the third party for a followup but never received any.

To this day I still don’t know what happened with them.  I wonder when I go by the area where they live, if they are still there.

I hope life has treated them well and they passed on their third try.  I think of that when I see the pink blossoms in the spring.

Review: Fifth Business

Don’t look up information before you write a review.  Yet I did find out Tokyo Police Club wrote a song based on this book.

Ramsay, the protagonist of Fifth Business, could be Everyman and Anyperson except that historical and world events move through his life and become up close and personal.

Fifth Business is a story that no matter how much we don’t believe that we impact people’s lives around us, we find out about it at the weirdest moments and when we least expect to. Then at some point everything will come to a head and perhaps not the way we expect. It’s also about belief, love, being yourself, being part of something and being part of other people’s lives.

This book talks a lot about magic and has a magic all of it’s own.

30 Day Challenge: The Tide is High

A relative of mine has a favorite saying that “water finds its own level”.

Find your tribe and they will find you.  This is true in life and with running a business as well.

I had a 20 minute conversation a few months ago where a potential client wanted to know why they should choose me over one of my competitors.  It was one of the toughest phone calls I’ve ever had as a business person.  Yet in the end, they paid me for the time I spent with them which was above and beyond what I normally do and I was grateful and the 20 minutes was well worth it.

Quick aside: people will call you when you are least ready.  So, always be ready.

One piece of advice I give to business newbies, and I received this as well in the beginning, is don’t feel you have to take every client.  Yes, I made that mistake in the beginning and learned the hard way.  Everyone wants overnight but even after doing this for over 20 years, there are still people out there who don’t know about you and your best friend is word-of-mouth.

And yes, the people who will want to work with you will respond.  So be yourself because phony is exposed really fast.

30 Day Challenge: Day 1 – I need someone….

I’ve been given this 30 day challenge to teach and show what I do.  I can start with my elevator pitch but I have 29 days left to get to that.

When teaching English learners English, I like to use songs and music.  The reason I do this is because music helps the words, the grammar, the syntax all stick easier than simply doing rote memorization.  Teaching with music is also more fun than simply sticking with a book.

The Beatles “Help” is one of my favorite songs to use for advanced beginners to intermediate learners.  One needs the word “help” in English.  The song also teaches simple past, expressing using the verb “need”, the word “so”, “much”, adjectives, pronouns, conditional, and some great vocabulary.

The word “help” also sums up what I do, not only in my business, but all around.

In my business I help people transform their lives.  Yet like other business owners, this isn’t just my business, it is my life.  For the past 23 years, seven of the last have included my LLC, I have worked with, helped, taught, held hands with, cried with, gone through English grammar and literature with ad nauseum, pulled words and information out of people’s mouths, put their thoughts and information on paper, career coached and counseled them, wrote out their dreams and thoughts for them, banged my head against a few computer screens and desks in frustration, and overall seen people move on to better places and positions.