I’m thinking about what the doctor said, and I heard it over a week ago. That’s powerful medicine. This was not a conversation with someone in a white lab coat who was wearing a stethoscope as if it was a necklace. This was a traditional doctor from different tradition. No needles required. A much smaller bill, too. Good health is a necessity, except in America where it is treated as a luxury. I’m glad I found a few frugal ways to help me through tough times.
I’ve written about the innovations and insights I’ve experienced at my naturopath’s office. Molly Fox’s office is part of Water’s Edge Wellness Center. I mention that by its full name because it can be difficult to call it a clinic, or to apply any other typical medical label to a place that happily isn’t typical. Sure, I have health insurance. It’s required. But, I rarely use it. At 1/5th the subsidized cost and about 1/10th the total cost, I get health care I can use. (Almost) anxiety-free.
That ‘almost’ is my issue, brought on by the reaction and impersonal care from traditional western medical practitioners. They meant well, but their approach was like a steamroller driver apologizing for running over a body part. “Sorry, but I couldn’t stop this thing.”
Frugality is different depending on whether it is exercised by choice or by necessity. By choice, frugality is fashionable. By necessity, frugality is a survival tactic that can be mistaken for style when it is really part of a struggle. The lessons linger because they’ve tested core values. Passing through such a time results in a deep appreciation of what really matters – also with an appreciation of true luxury.
I saw a McLaren drive past the office. That’s luxury for some. Not for me. That’s passing necessity, accelerating through luxury, and shouting excess. On the race track in a competitive race, it would be almost a necessity. On a road with speed limits and ‘No Passing” zones, it actually makes me a little sad. Imagine the work of those mechanics and engineers trying to maneuver around speed bumps and gravel parking lots.
Thinking about winning the lottery jackpot has changed as I’ve gone from middle class to millionaire to muddling by. The period after winning originally involved extended trips, philanthropy, and several other items probably listed somewhere in my millions of words online. Besides some necessities like taxes, top of my list now is helping others who helped me and others, and helping myself to better health. Financial troubles can encourage medical troubles. Maybe I’d fund a study to see if every year of too few funds takes months, years, or decades for recovery.
A recent naturopath visit (something I typically do monthly because they encourage that to the point of making it a no-extra fee service) highlighted the opportunity for me to see another of the professionals in their office: Haley Lee, Intuitive & Healer. She practices Qigong, a practice that reaches back 4,000 years with a name that’s much more recent, as I understand it. And I can say that I do understand it, at least a bit. Decades of practicing karate continue to teach me about other perspectives. I respect them.
From what I can tell, chi, qi, and ki are names for the same thing but in different languages. Tai chi, Qigong, the ki in the kiai in karate – I’m sure deep practitioners in each discipline could make distinctions. I was comfortable enough to accept the suggestion from my naturopath for such a treatment. I’m glad I did.
Whether from natural talent, practice, or chance connection, Haley Lee managed to open a conversation that poured more of my life story into one hour than another other human has managed. She heard, then she got to work. Attempting to explain her practice would be like describing an elephant’s heart by talking about one of its ears. Yes, they’re connected, but too much is missed in the description. An ear flapping isn’t the same thing as a heart pumping.
The session was relaxing, but the discussion afterwards was invigorating and continues to resonate. She gave me and my subconscious a lot to think about. There are implications for more than my physical health. Stress continues to be an issue, though one that is abating. Her insights help with the why and the how, and my management and self-creation of stress.
Thanks to Haley and Qigong, I’ve spent several evenings on the front deck at sunset wondering about me and the world. Until the mosquitoes chase me back inside.
I’m not the only one working through issues in a world filled with dysfunctional conventions.
Yes. The economy is improving. Unemployment is down. Interest rates are low. But. Much of the wealth gain is in assets unavailable to most. Wages are up, but folks without full-time employment may find they can’t get a job, or even an interview, and may have to combine five gigs to sustain one person. They’re employed, but they probably can’t afford a house or even rent; may not have benefits; and may find they can pay for insurance but spend so much on it that they can’t make claims against it. My two greatest expenses are the buckets for taxes and the buckets for insurance. They both exceed what I spend on mortgage interest.
Recently, someone going through tough times asked me how I got through my tough times. If there was one general rule for navigating my toughest times it was to respect conventional wisdom, but to continue on to the unconventional when the conventions weren’t working. We’re in a world that is changing. Chaos is common. Things don’t make sense. Trying to make them fit a model from fifty years ago ignores realities and advances in technology, society, the economy.
I’m glad I found health care providers who focus more on caring for health than caring for bureaucracies. I enjoy the irony that many consider them unconventional when they’re practicing methodologies that are thousands of years older than conventional western medicine. There are advantages to healing the whole self, not just medicating the symptoms of the body.
In my toughest times, I realized and witnessed the benefit of treatments considered non-traditional from a western perspective. They were cheaper, less invasive, and more effective than the far more expensive doctors and hospitals in insurance company brochures.
When I couldn’t afford even those services I recalled an observation from the counselor who navigated me through my divorce. After a few months of sessions I asked him if I was nuts, or crazy, or whatever term they preferred. His response was simple. No. His insight was valuable. He acknowledged that most of what he does is listen, and that’s all I really needed. It’s a rare action in our active world. He pointed out that decades ago people were much more likely to vent, whether it was at the bar or at a car party. Those outlets became less available as the danger of drinking and driving became more apparent, and as people could or had to replace leisure time with working yet another job. Stress relief is healthy, we have fewer outlets for it now, and his business keeps busy simply listening. One of the most affordable and positive activities for improving health is to find a friend and listen to each other. Talk and listen. Acknowledge each other’s emotions and situations. Respect confidences. Build trust. The cost of a cup or a mug is far less than a psychologist’s session or a visit to the hospital.
Now, time for me to sit back and think. Watching Haley work inspired this blog post. Thinking about her insights inspires yet another cup of tea, glass of wine, puff on the pipe… It’s a good thing my session was in the summer. Sitting this much on the deck in winter would be a bit wet and chilly.
I have benefitted for the past fifteen years from non-traditional health practices (30+ years longer if you count my move to chiropractory as a substantial health treatment). Those of us fortunate enough to have found career-stable jobs in the 1970’s paid dearly for it in the duration and difficulty of dedicated work weeks, too-often working-weekends and overtimes unpaid (no union for me I’m afraid). We were entrenched in lifestyles both onorous and exhilirating, but couldn’t easily ply ourselves off the roller coaster. We paid for our fun with chronic back issues, arms and hands in permanent clutch positions, and all the retinue of aches and pains in our seventies. Now I spend my time dedicated to unclutching my fingers, pushing away from the computer and its mind hold on my sense of freedom, and driving as little as I can to keep the upper arms flexible and out of the glued-commuter state. Hooray for the Naturopaths and other healers who lead us back to our souls through body work.
I enjoyed reading this. Insightful contentment . Even in an imperfect world and even when life isn’t “great”, we can still be just fine.
Glad you are reaping the benefits of these healing practices, Tom! Awesome!