Don’t Let Fear and What-If’s Change Your Behavior

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

posted the week of July 9, 2018 in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier Sentenel

 

Growing up in a small town I felt a sense of safety most of the time. It was during my childhood I learned about the “what-ifs” of life. It was taught to me unknowingly by my mother. She had no idea her anxiety about the evils of the world lent itself to my childhood fears.

Of course I was scared of the dark. What child isn’t? That was not anything my mother worried about. She worried about my health — what if you eat that and you get sick? She worried about my having an accident —what if you go with another family and they are in a car accident? And she worried about someone snatching me even if in those times kidnapping wasn’t a well-known problem.

We lived by the railroad tracks, and it wasn’t uncommon for hoboes to stop by and ask for money or food. They would often talk to my uncle when he was across the street with the horses or cows in the pasture. I was never allowed out when they were near. I was told they might kidnap me, and my parents would never see me again.

Gypsies were someone else to be afraid of in those days, at least from what I garnered from my mom. I was told they stole kids and did terrible things to them. I was terrified. I remember one time when I was home alone with my wheelchair-bound grandmother — I was around 9, a woman who dressed somewhat like I thought a Gypsy would dress, came to our door. I was afraid to go to the door. I opened the inside door but left the outside door latched.

The woman wanted to know if my mother was home. Of course I didn’t know what to answer. She wasn’t, but did I tell the woman that? The woman tried to get me to come outside, but I refused. She finally went away, but I was scared the rest of the day with visions of me being pulled out of the house and stolen.

Another time while in kindergarten, my mom wasn’t on the corner where she usually met me to walk me uptown to my dad’s store. I was terrified, because of the anxiety of what-ifs that mom wasn’t there. What if she had an accident? What if someone kidnapped me off the street?

Having been taught by a loving overprotective mother about what-ifs, my life continued and still does to this day to be fraught with scenarios when presented with something out of the ordinary or scary — scenarios that the majority of the time never come to pass but in my mind they are bigger than life and make me react out of fear to a situation, rather than thinking it through and coming to a sensible conclusion.

Right now I am in a book study which helps us confront our what-ifs and it is helping me immensely overcome those messages. But the vibes and messages of what-ifs and fear unknowingly sent to me in my childhood by my mother have had lasting consequences.

The other evening I attended a community meeting. A Level 3 sex offender is moving to my community onto a street with many children, close to parks and near the school. The community meeting was to give us information to make our community stronger and to alert us what to watch out for when it comes to our neighborhoods and children.

I thought it was well presented and felt the monitoring system in place was well thought out, along with the fact, well known in a small community, we all know what our neighbors are doing before they know it. We look out for each other. But the level of panic and anger outweighed any information attained to help us deal with the situation.

The “what ifs” were rampant. “He’s going to rape someone.” “What happens when he kidnaps one of my children?” “My son won’t be able to ride his bike safely to the pool anymore.”  “My children won’t be safe in their own yard.” “He’ll grab a child and put them in his car and we’ll never see them again.”

The tears fell, the anger built and some were out of control with their accusations. Some blamed our law enforcement for letting this person move into our community but the law is the law and they had no say in the decision.

I experienced something similar when my children were growing up in a different community from where I live now. The difference is the person hadn’t been caught yet and lived next door to me in a very old house. As neighbors, we watched as the men in the house enticed middle age school children to their home. I watched one day as one took a knife to another’s throat. The entire neighborhood was concerned, and we worked with the local police. This was a person detrimental to children but because he had not been charged, etc. we received no warning he was moving in.

Our neighborhood banded together. We calmly talked to our children. We took to the street. By that I mean, the kids went out into the street to play and we adults went out with our lawn chairs when we saw activity we were suspicious about at the house. We could track everyone coming and going because we were having neighborhood picnics. Soon, the neighbor moved because we were interfering with his activities. Soon after he moved he was arrested.

Were we angry? Yes. Were we scared for our kids? Yes. Were our kids scared? No. They were not scared because we worked together and the neighborhood did not show our children our fear.

We have a Level 3 sex offender coming to our community. We should be worried. We should be upset. We should have a plan, and we should be watchful. What we shouldn’t do is let our fear and what-ifs change our behavior so we teach our children that fear. Our fear should not be so out of control that it makes us act irrationally because that could have dire consequences not just on our future, but on the future of our children.

We as a community have to work to put safeguards in place to make our children safer and stronger. We need to work with local law enforcement to change laws in our community and with our legislature so offenders are not put within a close distance to day cares, schools and parks. In the meantime, new community residents need to know that small town residents watch out for one another. They care. Remember the “Sesame Street” song, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” In my community we know the answer to that question.

Embrace Your Differences

My column from the Albert Lea Tribune the week of April 9, 2018

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

IMG_0300I was getting ready to meet my grandchildren, one of whom is a teenage granddaughter, and I wondered if I would pass muster and dress appropriately so I wouldn’t embarrass her. I know she used to enjoy my quirky and colorful clothes, but that was when she was little and wasn’t as aware of what her peers were doing.

To be fair to her, she has never acted embarrassed about introducing me to anyone, especially her friends. I happen to love her teenage friends because they are so respectful and fun to be with, but I wonder if silently she may question my choices.

I have toned down what I wear in the last year or two. I must admit, I haven’t felt as if I was myself in my senior adult clothes choice, which is what is expected of someone my age. I tried to conform again.

Recently with all the hoopla surrounding Kelly Ripa and Brooke Shields and the criticism for wearing bikinis at their age, I thought long and hard about my choices. No, I do not plan on trying a bikini — I never looked good in them, but I happen to think these two women looked beautiful. It is their choice to choose what they wear at their age and not our business.

When I changed my natural hair color and went red a few months ago, I did have to endure comments from people who thought the drastic changing of my hair color was terrible. I got many more compliments than criticism, but it is the criticism that stayed with me.

My mom wasn’t a dresser and did not take good care of her looks. I know now she just didn’t have time, and clothes were not important to her. Although recently finding pictures of her in her early 20s, I realized at one time she had style and her clothes were beautiful. Somewhere in her busy life, she lost all that. I must admit, at times I was ashamed of the way she dressed and the fact she had bobby pins keeping her hair in place long after bobby pins were fashionable. I was a teenager, and it wasn’t my friends who gave me a hard time about how my mom dressed. It was other adults such as relatives and neighbors. They would ask me as a teenager and especially as an adult why I didn’t do something. As a teenager, I didn’t know what to do and as an adult, instead of not seeing dementia taking hold, I tried to help, but to no avail. The bottom line is I should not have been ashamed. That was who she was.

Recently, I acquired some bright clothes with wild patterns, and they really are me. The first time I put on a wild pair of pants my husband asked, “You aren’t really going out in that are you?” I proudly replied, “Yes, I am.”

I was told to dress brightly for a small school play I was involved in by Retired Senior Volunteers. I wore my bright clothes everywhere that day. I smiled all day; I felt like me.

I have a cousin who I got to know when she was a teenager. She is now an adult, a mother, and a beautiful person. Her mother, who I love, lamented during her daughter’s teenage years that her daughter liked to shop at thrift stores when they had more than enough money to buy the best of clothing. This teenager went on to college and earned a degree or two and first was going to be a lawyer or a doctor and follow in her family’s footsteps. But she knew this life wasn’t for her, and now she works for the DNR at a lower wage than she would have made at one of the other careers.  She lives in a beautiful state, tracks wildlife (yikes wolves) and works on sustaining our environment. She followed her own path. She knew early on who she was. She knows her value and is happy with her choices.

This is my advice for the teenagers in my life and in yours. God made us all different. We come in all different shapes and sizes. We like different things and have different personalities. Embrace that. Why would God make us each different if he wanted us to try and all be the same?

As a teenager, follow your style and don’t wear clothes just because they have a certain designer label or because you feel you need to look like your friends. A true friend will embrace that. Be you. Be different because God made you uniquely you. Celebrate it. Don’t let anyone make you feel you are less smart or less beautiful because you are smaller, bigger, look different or have flaws. Those flaws are all part of the wonderful you. Live your life. Take it from an adult who didn’t learn these lessons until I got old. Making choices to accept who you are in the noise of the world will be your pathway to a more peaceful life. If we were, all the same, it would be a dull world.

Can’t always be silent on the bigger issues

Julie Seedorf: Can’t always be silent on the bigger issues

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

I always seem to have an opinion on something. It doesn’t matter whether the subject affects me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I know anything about the subject. I always find a subject to have an opinion about. I also have a problem with letting others know what I think they should do whether they ask me for my opinion or not. I do not know why I think I should give another person advice about their life when I can’t handle mine most of the time. It seems to be a call deep inside of me that I must always speak up. Lately, I have been examining why I do this and figuring out how to change this behavior. It is tiring  always having an opinion about things I am not invested in. I also need to ask myself whether stating my opinion is helping or hurting. And whether what I say will make a difference or whether the words are drifting out into space and draining my energy especially in conversations with others.

We can’t always be silent. Maybe we or me need to decide when to pick our battles and make it count. The citizens of Albert Lea and surrounding areas have done that when speaking up against Mayo moving services. It might not save this hospital (I hope it does), but it may help others in the future. In spite of being told you can’t fight the big entities, they have taken on this fight. Maybe if more of us had done this in the past we would have more left in our communities, rather than accepting this is the way it is going to be. This is one subject I will always have an opinion about because it does directly affect where I live.

I have always stated unless we walk in someone’s shoes we don’t understand the problem completely. I have been following the Save Our Hospital Facebook group and there are many out there who laugh and make fun of anyone thinking this could be an antitrust issue or that Mayo has a monopoly. They cite instances from other hospital groups and have said, “Well then these other groups are, too.” They are probably right but — the other hospital groups aren’t in our area and Mayo is the one that affects us. If they think there is a possibility the other hospital groups have the same issue then they should say something.

For years people have given up, kept silent and accepted there is nothing they can do about progress even when it hurts their community. The citizens of Albert Lea are giving the nation a lesson in saying, “We have had enough. It is time we speak up for our community and bring it back to what it was and what it can be again.” Maybe other communities will do the same thing, not just with health care.

I got sick this week. I had to visit a doctor. I have a clinic one house away from my house. That is the clinic Mayo owns. But recently I switched to United Hospital District. They have a clinic in my community. I did the first visit to meet my doctor but hadn’t used it for illness. One of the reasons I switched was because of difficulty getting appointments here when I was ill. I went through that maze six years ago when I had a more serious illness. My physician, after finally being able to get an appointment with her, would tell me to come back the next week, and then I couldn’t get an appointment. It finally led to her telling me to call and talk to her nurse, who would get me in. It was a frustrating experience. I had a wonderful doctor but was not able to access her.

There was also another physician at our clinic I loved. But he, too, was moved and hard to get into. The final straw was when I cut my head open and my husband dragged me over to the clinic for stitches. They wanted to send me to Albert Lea for stitches. I complained and they consented to do the stitches, but the bill was enormous, too. My insurance company told me I should have gone to the emergency room and it would have only cost me $150 versus the $500 for 20 minutes. I thought that was strange reasoning. I might add the day I was sick the clinic one house away from me was closed.

So the morning of my illness this week, I called the United Hospital District Clinic and I got in that morning. I didn’t have to travel, and I was happy with my treatment. When you are sick you don’t need to deal with the frustration of trying to find health care.

Another friend of mine got sick earlier in the year and went to see if he could get an appointment at the Mayo Clinic here in town. It would be two weeks. He remembered he could use the VA Clinic. He called the Albert Lea VA Clinic and got in the same day.

If these two clinics can provide same-day appointments, why can’t the Mayo Clinic, who is supposed to be the best at health care, find a way to do the same thing in outlying areas? They are the best at what they do in Rochester. Wouldn’t they want to be the best at what they do in those cities where they made a commitment to help and serve the sick?

So I do have an opinion on this because it not only affects me and my family but my friends. I want to thank the citizens of Albert Lea for taking on this fight. That is my opinion.