Columnist: Facing life’s bumps, it’s all about attitude
Both trains leave the station at noon. If the blue train leaves Glenwood heading east at 50 mph, and the red train leaves Denver heading west at 20 mph, which one will crash into the ocean first?
Forty plus years have passed since I last deciphered a math word problem. I wore bell bottoms, a peasant shirt, and used a No. 2 pencil. This time I donned my best business attire, tested online and hoped to prove I’m not too old to learn. I am starting a new career at 60.
My husband, Kevin, and I met in Aspen in 1978. We’ve worked up and down the valley ever since, eventually each starting our own small business. The Roaring Fork Valley is the home of our hearts. We’ve raised two kids here, burying one of them in Glenwood. We’ve volunteered in churches, schools and other faith-based organizations. Our friends live all the way from Aspen to Rifle. Every day we look out the window and thank God we get to live here.
Until my email brings our monthly health insurance bill.
We’ve loved being self-employed, but over the years the cost of health coverage has risen steadily. That greedy gremlin reaches its bony fingers into our pockets, turns us upside down and shakes us until our teeth rattle. Before the Affordable Care Act we had lousy coverage. Now we have slightly better benefits, but the combined premiums and out-of-pocket expenses exceed the cost of our mortgage. Something had to give.
That something was my business. For years I’ve made a living helping small business owners manage their bookkeeping systems. Mom-and-pop enterprises have welcomed me into their homes, plunking me down amidst their piles of papers and concerns. I’d like to think I made their lives easier just by juggling debits and credits. My business allowed me a glimpse into the lives of hardworking families and the flexibility to spend time with my own.
Sadly, I’ve closed up shop. Now I’m training for a new career that provides fantastic benefits. My coworkers welcomed me, my job is five minutes from home and I can park in the shade. But nothing spells “humbling” like learning a new job. Turns out bankers see debits as credits and vice versa. I’m so confused.
“I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, and some come from behind.” In Dr. Seuss’s “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew,” the main character is a charming little yellow fellow who lived in the Valley of Vung. Nothing much ever went wrong there, until he sprained the main bone in the tip of his tail. Having never experienced such difficulty, he figured if he just kept his eyes open he would be fine. Sadly, a Skritz and a Skrink disproved that theory, so he set off for the magical city of Solla Sollew, where reportedly “they never have troubles — at least very few.”
His search for a carefree homeland led him through mishaps hither and yon. Upon arriving in this magical place, he came to learn that trouble is everywhere. Rather than moving to yet another locale, he decided that the Valley of Vung was not so bad; all that needed changing was his attitude.
Let’s face it: everyone is paying higher health care premiums. Ours are just some of the highest in the country. Those who can’t pay face a substantial fine on their income tax returns, along with the unsettling reality that one illness or accident can lead to bankruptcy. This complicated system is broken. It has been for a long time. But perhaps a little help is on the way.
On May 17, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB16-1336 into law. This health care bill calls for the state’s Division of Insurance to study the feasibility of creating a single rating area for health insurance premiums covering the entire state of Colorado.
For us up here in the hills, it could mean an abatement of the skyrocketing cost of coverage. Two short months from now, we should know if this could be a happening thing. Will the process begin? Could we ever see a reduction in our health insurance premiums? If not, how many businesses will have to close their doors?
I’m still in love with the Roaring Fork Valley, the home of my heart. Yes, the cost of living here is insane. Yes, I’m bummed I had to give up my business. But like the little yellow charmer who navigated tough terrain only to find there’s no place like home, all I can change is my attitude. Let them come, Skritz and Skrink, or the RFV equivalent. I’m taking my cues from the good Dr. Seuss.
“But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see.
“Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
Rachel Ophoff is a Christian writer and speaker and now a neophyte bank teller. Her immediate goal is balancing her drawer as well as her brain. Learn more at http://www.rachelophoff.com.
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