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.

Is It True? Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 6, 2017

File Aug 07, 1 45 29 PMI know they say blondes have more fun. Having been a blonde most of my life, I do agree there is a fun component. I was born with snow white hair which morphed into sunshine blonde and in later years a darker blond sprinkled here and there with gray strands. I am not one to color my hair because it seems too much work to keep it up.

About 15 years ago I took a daring leap and became a redhead for a few weeks along with chopping off my hair into a pixie cut. I loved it, but I got so much grief from my family I let it go back to my natural color and grew it out.

My hair has had many transformations over the years from semi-short, long to layered and curly to straight. I get bored with my hair and on a whim I visit a salon, any salon I am near when the moment hits, and have them do something to it — meaning cut or chop but not color. I have a hard time making appointments ahead of time because I am so spur-of-the-moment with my hair. When I can’t stand it anymore, I want it changed and I want it changed right now.

I have favorite hairdressers, but they aren’t the spur-of-the-moment kind of women because they are talented and their appointment calendar is usually full. Three of them live right here in my hometown, and another one lives and works in Mankato. They all work wonders on hair but they haven’t fit into my spur-of-the-moment tantrums.

I must have grown up a little and made it out of the “I want it cut now” because I made an appointment with the hairdresser that cut and colored my hair many years ago. I decided I liked the pictures from 15 years ago. I must admit I was scared and almost changed my mind about chopping off my hair. After all, it takes forever to grow back. And the color — well, I downloaded an app and tried colors, finally deciding I would match my grandson Jake, and my daughter Katie, with a reddish color as I did many years ago.

It was with trepidation I watched the cut. I couldn’t believe it when I said, “I think we should go a little shorter with the bangs and top.” Thank goodness for Pinterest because my cell phone came loaded with pictures of cuts I like, but having fine, thin hair I wasn’t sure it would work.

We debated on the color. If I were honest, if I were braver, I would have added some purple to the gold copper. I didn’t quite have enough courage to go that far — maybe next time.

Who would think at my age I would be nervous at such a change. I loved it, but I was a little scared about the reaction I might receive. My husband raised his eyebrows and wanted to know why I didn’t go darker red. Boris and Natasha stared at me and weren’t sure who I was. I didn’t think cats noticed faces but I could be wrong. I finally posted my picture on my Facebook page, and the reaction seems to be acceptance.

I was in need of a change. A color and cut might seem like a small thing to most people, but it was my upbringing holding me back. It was beliefs I didn’t know I had, keeping me all of these years from changing my natural hair color. In my childhood years it was scandalous to color your hair. I remember people talking about a few women that did color their hair back in the ’50s and those whispers must have stuck in my brain. Although I always loved other women when they colored their hair, I still hold those beliefs unknowingly in my brain. There was something wrong with me if I wanted my hair to be a different color.

Now I feel free from that silly, kept-undercover-belief. I find it strange things affect us and we do not realize some of the choices we make are unspoken criticisms from the past.

I know I could have added the purple. It wouldn’t have mattered what others said. I am my own person with my own tastes and those who are truly in my corner won’t care about the decisions I make about my looks. They accept me as I am. At my age, I have earned the right, as it says in the poem by Jenny Joseph, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” I am not sure she was talking about hair but does it matter?

One might say coloring your hair isn’t accepting yourself as you are. But it is if you want red hair, purple hair for the fun of it or want to break out of the usual rut and feel alive in your skin. It is if that is who you are inside but have kept it hidden, trying to conform to what others think you should be. It isn’t accepting yourself if you think changing your looks will make you more accepted, more like others and are trying to fulfill something inside of you to fill a deep hole that doesn’t let you accept yourself.

Someone who is comfortable with who they are will pull that from inside of themselves and show the world that person. I am not sure I am there yet, but life is a journey and it should be fun trying to let go of expectations, not just mine but others in my old age.

Like Mikey from the commercial said, “Try it, you might like it.”

Church Pews Be Gone

My column this week. I had a few thoughts on church pews. What are your thoughts? Comfort or beauty?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of July 10, 2017

I love the look of old church pews. I wouldn’t mind having an old church pew in my home for looks but not for sitting. As I lifted my creaky back up off a hard church pew one Sunday morning I wondered why we hold on to the old-fashioned church pews in many of our churches. Let’s face it, they are uncomfortable, and they are hard on the back.

Yes, we have some cushioned church pews in my church, but since I am short when I sit on the cushion my feet do not touch the ground and I am uncomfortable. But cushions do not fix the slanted back. And while I am short many tall people have a hard time with small pews, which are in many old churches. Am I complaining? Probably and there is no fix, but I wondered how those uncomfortable church pews got started.

Before the construction of church buildings, people met in houses. Long bed-like cushions were provided on which people would recline to eat their meals. I could handle reclining while eating. When the Eucharist was served they would stand.

When the first church buildings were resurrected people would stand or kneel at the service. The Protestant revolution introduced the sermon as the central part of worship and the pew appeared. Since churches could not afford them, people would purchase what was called pew boxes because they could be locked up and no one else could use them.

During the mid-19th century, pew rents were offered for those who could not afford to buy their pew. These pews were a cheaper version and called the “cheap seats.” Those unable to afford pew rents were given unassigned seats at the church.

There are different designs of pews. Some were fancy and others were rough with slivers to remind people of Christ’s death. Some pew designs are ornate and lavish. Backs of pews may be straight or angled. Some pews are small in size. In older churches most pews face the front of the church and the pulpit, not allowing for conversation or interaction with the others sitting in church.

That makes me wonder why we keep the pews. Early church services were held in the home, and people could look each other in eye and interact with one another. Then when buildings came into place people stood to pray and again could move around and have a conversation with other congregants. Why are we not doing that now? Why are we holding on to those church pews — besides the fact that most of them are pretty?

Some congregations are moving into a new generation of worship when they build new facilities replacing the pews with comfortable chairs which are easy on people’s backs. I would imagine people with arthritis, back problems and disabilities appreciate the change.

Chairs aren’t always set up in a straight line. They can be moved, and they may be moved in a circular pattern so people can change directions and look at one another, being able to have a conversation when the time arises. One of my favorite parts of the service at my church is the sharing of the peace where we can move around and meet and greet people and look someone in the eye so they know we care.

There are traditions we need to hold onto in our churches which affect the theology of the church. In my opinion, church pews are not one of them. Instead of worrying about the aesthetics of a church, and yes we need to keep up our buildings so they don’t fall down, I would rather have a well-used and worn church where people feel comfortable and at home.

When we invite people to our houses we offer them comfortable chairs, something to refresh their thirst and good conversation. We want them to feel at home in our home. Shouldn’t we want the same thing in our churches? Don’t we want our churches to be a place of peace, rest, and refreshment in a world full of strife and stress where they can feel accepted and hear God’s word? We are not perfect people. There is not one of us who doesn’t sin, so wouldn’t we want to welcome all to our comfortable church home?

I must admit there are days we don’t attend church when our backs make it difficult for us to sit in the hard pews. We watch the service live streaming at home, but by doing that we miss conversations with others that might revive us for the week and make a difference in our life.

This is an opinion column. My opinion: Pews be gone.