Random Nuggets of Wisdom I’ve Learned Along the Way

Recently, I wrote a letter to my younger self in one of my blogs. Now, here’s one for you.

I’ve lived many lifetimes and screwed up a lot. Oh…a whole lot. This is just a tiny bit of what I’ve learned. Hopefully, some of this resonates with you – or perhaps can even help in some way.

1. With so much to do, read, watch, learn and create, it is literally impossible to get bored. Only boring people get bored. 

2. If someone is stupid & ignorant, it’s because they choose to be. 

3. Time is worth more than money. 

4. Being a good person won’t protect you from bad people. 

5. Talk is so cheap, it’s free. Only effort & results matter. Effort is HOT.  

6. Jalapeno salt improves almost everything. 

7. Mediocre people tend to get deeply offended at advice from more successful people. 

8. Barring race and some politics, the reason people who react (flip out) on social media (instead of responding) is because some of what’s said is truthful. 

9. There are a lot of undiagnosed mental disorders and mental illness out there.  (Game recognizes game.) I give a ton of credit to the people who get treated. Those who are working on themselves and fighting the good fight should be highly commended. I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them. It’s a struggle and it affects everyone around you. https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/08/28/chapter-14-bipolar-blues-and-manic-depressive-madness-the-intro/ 

10. Doing > complaining. Hashtag campaigns < doing. DOING MATTERS.

11. People over politics. If someone cares about us, who gives a fuck how they vote? Seriously. Having a variety of friends with different opinions makes life richer. 

12. If politics are your whole life…you have no life. Unless you’re an elected official. Then, carry on, mate. Make the world a better place. 

13. “Running for a cure” won’t do shit. Run/walk to stay HEALTHY. Illnesses make America way too much profit to cure them. 

14. Here’s one no one talks about – you know how they tell you to put money away for retirement? Guess what? You need another savings account to save in order to not LOOK and FEEL like you’re headed towards retirement. With us a.) living longer and b.) on photos and videos all the time, looks and having energy does matter.  Fighting it is gonna cost you. A fucking lot, too. From botox, filler, peels, medication, T therapy (for men & menopause), laser for face (and weird hair…this is aimed at the guys), more (gray) hair coloring, fighting balding (a balding friend had a transplant, which worked wonderfully, you’d never know), growth hormone, eyelid drooping surgery (I know several who have had to have them pulled back due to losing some vision in one or both eyes), CBD oil for all the aches and pains, random injuries that need rehab and cost us work, vision or dental issues…all of it. Unless you plan to just surrender…look like shit, feel like shit…or you have stellar genetics and incredible luck…it will cost you. Save NOW. Insurance doesn’t cover most of that. I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff, too.

15. Life isn’t fair. Deal with it. It’s up to us to make it a better place for everyone.

16. Helping people/a cause/animals and not talking about it makes you even more of a hero, albeit a karmic hero. 🙂

17. Young women; develop a healthy attitude about your body while simultaneously developing your wit, manners, and brain. You cannot get by on your looks alone (nor should you), especially with more and more females running the world.  Additionally, if you have any doubts, I can assure you that you probably look much better than you think. You’re young. Enjoy it. Because you’re gonna get tired and fat one day. So fat. 

18. Time destroys everything. Nothing stays the same. Know this, accept it. Savor the moments. Learn to adapt and change with the times. The waves will come. As some smart person stated long before I wrote this: You can either drown when the waves come crashing in or you can learn to surf.

19. True intimacy comes from vulnerability; Letting your guard down, dropping your defenses and sharing what makes you, YOU. Whether it’s a deeper friendship or real romantic love, you can’t get there without it. 

20. People can be fucked up. There’s nothing you can do about it, some just are. While you can’t control certain situations, you CAN control how you choose to react/respond.

21. Apologizing (heartfelt) and/or saying thank you can fix a world of hurt and some major issues. Never be too proud ortoo ignorant to do either. 

22. “Your ego is not your amigo.” When you start to react instead of respond, step back and think for a minute first: “Is this my ego?  Is this going to hurt someone for no reason? Is this necessary? In the big picture, will this help or hurt things?” Sit for 24 hours before you send that angry email or text. Wait. Trust Auntie April on this. I’ve had to repair a lot of flaming bridges in my lifetime over stupid stuff like…an email.

23. Your gut feeling is always right. ALWAYS.

24. Overthinking leads to anxiety and misery. Keep it simple. This takes willful practice. 

25. We are all equal in that we each get 24 hours a day. How we choose to spend that time is what sets us ahead, apart or behind.

26. Happiness is not a right. It’s a point of view. It’s the way we chose to see things. Example: an NFL game. After the game, half the stadium leaves happy, half leaves upset. The game was just a game. Such is life. “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

27 Books are sexy – and they don’t get destroyed when you drop them or some brat cannonballs next to you at the pool.

28. Honesty is brave and requires huge balls. While others may not like what you have to say, you’ll usually earn respect for saying it (if you say it the right way.) Use a velvet gloved fist. Say it without doing more damage.

29. Don’t send that email until you’ve looked it over twice and made sure it’s ready to send. Ditto for texts. 90% of court cases are won solely on emails and texts. 

30. Speaking of email, texts and emails are easily misconstrued due to lack of tone. Key & Peele moments happen. If you are confused, simply call the person. Yes. Dial your phone. It can save relationships and friendships. 

31. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice. 

32.  Put your fucking phone down. Wait – finish reading this, of course, but for real…put it down, walk away and leave it alone. Get an alarm clock and keep your phone in another room at night. Addiction of any kind is unattractive and you’re missing out on real life. Being owned by an electronic device is so lame. It’s a dog’s leash, a baby’s pacifier.  #LOOKUP  
*There’s no long-term testing for smartphone damage. We are the guinea pigs. Doctors once prescribed cigarettes for digestion, claiming they were healthy. 

33. The only two things guaranteed in life are death and taxes. Your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles…they’re only here for a certain amount of time. Be good to them.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone. I say this as an orphan who wishes I could have my parents and grandparents back for just one more dinner together. I pissed that time away all too often instead of being completely present, sitting with my Gram in the evening, calling my dad or spending time with my Poppy when he was confined to bed. When I was 16, my social life mattered more than my grandparents. This is something I deeply regret, because my Poppy died likely thinking I was a self-absorbed asshole, and my Gram (who was my everything) lost her husband without me there to lean on. What was I doing? Trying to find the next party, chatting with my boyfriend and keeping up with the school gossip. Such important stuff that matters not one single bit now. If I could go back in time, I would fix that.

Call your mom, dad or grandparents. For me.

34. It’s never okay to crap on someone’s beliefs or lack of. What works for one person might not for another.  If we were all the same, conversations would get stale in record time.

35. Having an open mind doesn’t mean you’re simply willing to hear another person’s point of view. It means you’re open to changing your mind based on the facts/story/evidence given. But being willing to listen to all points of view is a great start.

36. The word “thank you” changes your negative energy into positive. If you’re fed up or stressed, just say “thank you” over and over again until you get rid of that yuck.

37.  People who don’t socialize aren’t usually being antisocial. They just don’t have the energy or tolerance to deal with drama, fake people and/or crowds. 

38. Choose your friends like you do your lovers. Stay away from the needy, the vampires, and the desperate.

39. Floss. Listerine for 2 minutes twice a day. Take care of your teeth.

40. Live below your means. Debt will make you miserable. If you’re in debt, make it a priority to pay it down. Work to live, don’t live to work. #moderndayslavery #fuckthatshit

41. Pro wrestling is more real than you could ever imagine. Yes, many of the endings are scripted for storyline continuation purposes, but the training, the injuries, the chops, the accidents, the mental bullshit, and the politics are PAINFUL, take a toll on you in every way and are valuable learning experiences that can leave you broke and broken if you’re not vigilant and careful. Every hard chop to the chest shocks the heart. Every time you’re slammed to the mat, it’s the equivalent of a fender bender. Throw your body into a turnbuckle slightly off, and you’ll have bruises and whiplash. There are the misses and accidents, working sick and jet lag. The flights alone can beat you up, as the majority of wrestlers fly coach until they acquire a name or miles. Name any other sport that goes year round without an off-season. Name anything else that’s drug tested like a sport, called entertainment, yet doesn’t get acknowledged by or receive any benefits from the Screen Actors Guild, such as like union & minimum pay requirements. Wrestlers are drug tested on Olympic standards. We can’t even take cold or allergy medication. I’m pretty certain NFL players can. Name any other sport where they have to pay their own travel and lodging – and get themselves there after a long day, working and fighting their way out of a crowded arena. No team bus in wrestling. There’s no team anything in wrestling: travel, doctors, treatments, financial advisors…nada. The cherry on the sundae: Wrestlers are terribly exposed through the internet. Anyone can find, harass, and stalk them since everyone knows their schedules. If they’re good at playing the bad guy, the chances of that happening increase exponentially. Some wrestlers have been stabbed by “fans.” Others have been in a bar having a few drinks and accosted by idiots challenging them. Even their children have been contacted, called names, harassed and abused. Even to defend oneself is tricky these days with an ethics code and expectations. We can grow to distrust and hate the very people who support us, as a few can ruin it for all.

Unlike other sports, if you’re injured and take time off, you can lose your spot forever. The show must go on. If you’re a champion or in a major storyline and something is torn/broken, you’re in that ring the next night and it’s written into the storyline. There’s always someone right behind you waiting for the opportunity to shine. “If you can walk, you can wrestle!” – Killer Kowalski. That’s why we work hurt and end up damaged long term. It’s why so many become addicted to pain pills. It’s also why there are so many early deaths in wrestling. It’s not the illegal drugs killing us, it’s the legal ones. You can only handle so many pain pills, sleep meds, and running yourself into the ground on a 4-5 day a week in a different city each night travel schedule before something shuts down. Steroids and growth hormone were created to enhance, speed up recovery, strengthen, mimic youth and turn humans into superhumans. That’s not the stuff that’s going to kill you…which why all the Mr. and Ms. Olympias are still alive and kicking.

42. Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.

43. No matter how big & badass you are, when a toddler hands you a toy phone, you answer it.  

Live long and prosper. – Mr. Spock

Thanks for reading. Visit me on www.Patreon.com/aprilhunter 

*Got anything good to add? Let’s hear it.*

If you feel the sudden urge to to spoil me, here is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. Xo! #SpoilYourGinger!

http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw … … via @amazon

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Free Sniffs!

Yeah, I try not to say that too loudly around schools. If you’re out and about – or, “oot and aboot”, heard often in Florida around this time of year – Tampa Bay area over the next several weeks, guess what? I have FREE SNIFFS.

And I’m talking soy candles and artisan soap. Really good stuff, too. Organic soy wax. High-quality oils and wicks. My soaps may not be made from “women’s fat asses”, but it’s all shea butter, olive oil, glycerin, and goat’s milk. Close enough.

I love creating unique scents and infusing my nerdy obsession with pop culture into my candles and soaps. 

*Despite the first and second rule, if you’re too young to have seen the film Fight Club, watch Fight Club. Not only is it more relevant today than it was twenty years ago, but it’s barely aged, you’ll probably freaking love it – and, ladies…it’s Brad Pitt in his prime. 😉 The film is a witty, funny, gritty, honest mindfuck of a story that moves fast enough for those of you with the attention span of a gnat.  Okay, done. Now, WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.*

Come see me…because paying shipping SUCKS. 

There’s just no way around it with jar candles and dense soaps. I could mark everything up and say “free shipping included” but does that work? Aren’t you guys smart enough to know I just shoved it into the price?

Here’s my gig list – nearly all of them are having live bands, microbrews, wine, arts, and local handmade crafts, so these are really fun events/fundraisers. I believe they’re all FREE, too. FREEEEEEEEEEEE.

NOVEMBER: 

17th: Shopapalooza, St. Pete. 

23rd: Ella’s Black Friday Pop Up Market on Nebraska Ave, Tampa.

24th: Art Walk, Pinellas Park, Small Business Saturday.

27th: Cheval’s Holiday Gift & Craft Market, Lutz.


DECEMBER:

1st: Holizaar, St. Pete.

7th: PAW/Pinellas Ale Works, St. Pete.

13th: Eco Fest Market, Lutz.

21st: Third Friday, Safety Harbor.

Instagram: @AprilsScentSations

Facebook: AprilsScentSations

Patreon: AprilHunter

Growing Up Broke

When we were kids, we got what we needed, not what we wanted. We lived on one military paycheck. Clothes were passed down, pants were hemmed, lunches were packed, food was from the garden and we weren’t allowed to eat McDonald’s or Burger King. (Our junk food was pizza.) Going out to eat was an event, we cut our own lawn, we didn’t have air conditioning,  and the family shared a single bathroom. Mom used layaway for Christmas gifts. I still shower at night from years of working around the hot water heater schedule.  We had well water, recycled, planted, reused, fixed things, cooked, sewed, patched, chopped and got creative. It’s funny how that’s all “in style” at the moment. Even layaway made a comeback. Growing up, it was embarrassing to be the only kid with a brown bag or white hem marks from multiple let-outs. I’m grateful now, but it definitely sucked at the time. I never developed a taste for fast food or soda pop, but I adore peppery arugula and cool, crisp cucumbers with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I realized while writing this that we are all nickel and dimed to death. We pay for little things here and there; Netflix, a subscription, games, Pandora, cable/hulu, etc. Most have their own cars (and insurance.) Phones.  <—-Just that adds up to hundreds each month…and you don’t even have a roof over your head or food on the table yet. THIS is why we don’t have much money left over. Everything adds up. All that little stuff amounts to something. Payments, credit cards…at 15-18% interest, we’re throwing money away by keeping a balance, too. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog. And I would never give up my Pandora. It’s $3.99/month well spent.

AprilsScentSations, The Beginning

I was about ten years old and we were in Peddler’s Village, which is an artsy area of Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. My mother loved to shop. And by shop, I mean dragging us along for hours while she meandered around and bought nothing. I saw a brightly colored candle kit guaranteeing ease at mastering wax creations. I knew better than to ask, but I did. To my shock and amazement, Mom (an artist herself, who gave it up for the joys of marriage) grabbed the kit and plunked it down at the register. Little did she know that was likely the precursor to AprilsScentSations.

Nothing was off limits; we made candles with ice, used empty cardboard milk cartons, made dripped candles, and it was awesome.

I found myself quite lost after my Gram and Mom died. For over a year and a half, I wanded around on autopilot in a low-grade depression, despite meds. “What did you do for fun when you were a kid, before the paycheck?” Bike riding, reading, swimming, candle making and playing with makeup.

So, I started doing those things again.  

Florida is weird during the holidays.

Well, I could have stopped at “weird.” Doing craft markets with Christmas songs playing in the background while a trickle of sweat drips down my chest and I’m swatting at mosquitoes doesn’t feel…merry. It never does here. I bury my nose in the candles and then…for a brief moment, it does.

Candles which ARE NOT SOY can cost you a shload in home repairs

It’s crazy how much scent adds to the atmosphere. And how it can slowly ruin your home. A customer told me he was having his air ducts cleaned out and the cleaner came down and said, “You burn a lot of candles.”

He said, “Yeah, we do.”

The cleaner: “There’s so much soot and paraffin wax crap caked up there, it’s ruining your ducts. From now on, nothing but soy candles, they  burn clean.” 

READ: http://www.comfortmatehvac.com/resources/candle-soot-and-air-quality/

Read about the toxins in paraffin candles here: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/21/candles.air.pollution/

Bumper Cars

I haven’t done a lot of blogs because writing is challenging. Sitting for more than a few minutes is difficult. I was in a car accident last year which herniated every disc in my neck except one, and it partially dislocated my hip. The neck injury has deeply affected my arms and hands, especially my right one. I’ve been in intense therapy, yoga, and had four epidurals to try and get back to normal. So far, not much luck but some of the pain has decreased. 

I decided to plunge back into AprilsScentSations for the holiday season to offset the loss of bookings, and because it allows me to stand at the stove instead of sitting at a desk. I also find it therapeutic to get away from screens and work with my hands. It’s fun to mix all these scents together. I always wanted to make unique candles that you can’t buy anywhere else. So far, I think I’ve mostly achieved this…and I’ve even noticed a few copycats.

To those who send Amazon gift cards, THANK YOU. I’m on there like mad lately reordering supplies. It’s incredibly appreciated AND helpful!

Heads Up
Etsy will have a site-wide sale on Black Friday and my store is included.

I hope to see some of you at the shows!

Xo!

April

Ps. This was written VERY quickly and I didn’t really edit it. I need to get it out and get back to shrink wrapping and labeling. I’m fully aware my writing sucks massive weenis on this one. But my point: Come see me. Oh, and there’s a sale on Etsy next week. 🙂

Pet shampoo bars

A Letter to My Younger Self…Or, to You.

It’s my birthday on Monday. I’m grateful to those who are part of my life and you who make it better. You know who you are. 🙂As I’ve gotten older (and I am older than I look, I think), I’ve realized that relationships matter more than money. That’s probably the primary lesson I’ve learned and I used to choose work over everything else. Here are some more valuable lessons I wish I’d known if you want to benefit from my plethora of mistakes: 

(Then again, I don’t know if I would’ve listened had someone told me. I dunno. Hindsight…)

1. Listen to all sides. There are always more sides than yours. 

2. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ll get. 

3. People over politics. Always. Never lose someone over how they vote. It’s fucking stupid. Dump them over being a negative asshole, a liar, or a shitty person. But not for how they vote. 

4. Speaking of, sometimes people act strangely because they’re dealing with something or have a mental disorder – diagnosed or not. Patience and finding out where they’re coming from and HOW to talk with them can help. 

5. Skincare! Satin pillowcase, always moisturize and use sunscreen. 

 

6. Showering before bed saves time in the morning. 

7. Don’t work out or wrestle if you’re hurt or sick. There’s nothing to prove. 

8. ZINC and Vit D! Not Vit C for colds. It’s ZINC, D and sovereign silver.

9. It’s all about pets & plants. 

10. Not having kids works out fine. We’ll see about in the end. The jury’s out on that one. 

11. You’ll never have a healthy relationship if you’re not a healthy, whole person. No one “completes you” and you will not complete anyone. Worst fucking line in cinematic history. Best line: “May The Force Be With You.”  

12. There’s no crying in baseball. Or, wrestling. 

13. Free speech includes the word “fuck”. Get over it. No one is slapping your baby. 

 

14. You CAN choose your family. In modern times, traditional ideas of marriage and family are somewhat outdated. Partners are actually partners and friends can be family. The true meaning of “Blood is thicker than water”: those who spill blood & battle together are tighter than anyone, including family. It was meant for warriors and soldiers, but hell…life is a battle.

15. Dirty laundry belongs in the wash, not on Facebook. (Oh, and when you publicly post how much you love your significant other, we all know exactly how badly that relationship is going. We also know that if you post about nothing other than politics, you kinda have no life.) 

16. Complaining is far easier than changing. Most people are fine with being average. The majority of us don’t LIVE, we exist. 

17. Happiness is a choice, not a right. It’s how we choose to see things. 

 

18. You are not too old, and it is not too late. 

19. Don’t listen to what others say. Listen to your gut. 

20. You get ONE SHOT at life. Do things, go places. Travel is the best education you can give yourself. Every little choice you make today will affect tomorrow…your future…from what you’re eating for lunch, to how you treat your mom, to choosing a job you don’t love because you have money fears…to karma if you steal music or model’s photos from her site. (Yeah…that might be why your car was broken into.)

22. WALK. Every day. Even if you don’t feel like it. 

23. WWYD. What Would You Do? Treat people the way you want them to treat YOU. When in doubt, default to that. 

 

24. Respect is earned, not given. And if someone wastes 10 minutes of your time, 7 minutes is YOUR fault. Stand up for your damn self. 

25. Make decisions based on love, not fear. If you chose fear, you’ll pay for it with a shitty life. 

26. Be honest. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s horrible. Say what you mean, mean what you say. 

27. Manners and courtesy go a LONG WAY. (People are afraid of anger. Took me a while to learn the anger one. Still learning about it.) 

 

28. Do not drive slow (or the speed limit) in the passing lane. Which is the left lane in the USA. Many of you do not know this is a law. MANY OF YOU. And for fucks sake, use your turn signal. (Also a law.) We don’t have ESP and you are not on the roads all by yourself.  (This isn’t a lesson I learned on my own. It’s one my dad taught me.)

 

29. Tell people you love them (if you do.) They die suddenly, and you may never have the chance. 

30. Forgive assholes. You don’t have to forget…just forgive. Most of the time, it’s for you, not for them. 

31. There’s a massive difference between reacting and responding. ALSO: No one can make you FEEL anything. Your feelings are your own. If you DECIDE not to get upset, angry, care or bothered by it…you won’t. BOOM. Just like that.  

Ps. Expectation is premeditated disappointment. Want something? ASK FOR IT. 

32. Best advice I ever got: Never keep your meds on the counter. Put them into a box and keep them in the cabinet. Seeing your pills all the time is a mental cockblock. You are not A Sick Person, you are a PERSON who just happens to also be sick. Don’t let it affect your aspirations.

33. a. God helps those who help themselves. Thoughts and prayers are nice (if useless for the most part) but DOING something is BETTER. If you don’t believe in God, same thing applies. Verbs make life move forward. 

b. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Yeah…I dunno about that one. Might be bullshit. But you can handle more than you think. Sometimes, you just have to tell everyone around you “no” until you get where you need to be.

34. No matter how stunning someone is on the outside, they can get ugly and unattractive REAL fast.  It happens the other way around, too. Less physically attractive people can become very beautiful. 

35. Sometimes the line between bravery and stupidity is gossamer thin.

36. Sex is natural. Nudity is natural. Having emotions is natural. Wanting to be loved is natural. These aren’t things to ever feel shame or embarrassment for. 

37. I know I’ll continue to learn something new every day.  

Got advice? Let’s hear it.

Xo. 

-Me

“There are flowers everywhere for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

 

 

 

If you want to spoil me for my birthday, here is a link to my Amazon Wishlist. Xo! #SpoilYourGinger!

http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw … … via @amazon

 

 

rumi

Why America Needs Single-Payer Healthcare

By April K. Hunter

This is a different kind of article on healthcare, one written from a business perspective.

In order for Obamacare to be sustainable, Sarah Lueck states in the New York Times that there must be a mix of healthy and sick enrollees to adequately spread costs. Read her claim here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/08/24/is-obamacare-sustainable/insurers-must-recalibrate-premiums-and-costs.

While a free market economy works well in many avenues, it has no place in American healthcare. Simply put, health should not be available for profit. There is no amount a parent wouldn’t spend to save their child. While The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, it didn’t go far enough. Lueck notes that despite the federal analysis of insurers’ data, which indicates that the balance of risk actually improved, some insurers have still incurred substantial financial losses and are leaving the marketplaces. She feels the answer to this problem is “to further increase the risk pool by pushing for raising enrollment, especially of healthy people” (Lueck, 2016). She also suggests more states should adopt the expansion of Medicaid to reduce the amount of uninsured.

Medicaid is a version of single-payer healthcare. It’s coverage for people made available once they reach a certain age. Most countries use a form of this type of healthcare for everybody, regardless of age. There’s a valid reason no other country in the world uses the complicated and costly version of privatized healthcare the United States does (Fisher, 2012). It’s morally and ethically dubious to earn trillions off disease, life-saving medications, and surgeries.

Additionally, most countries rank higher than the United States for being healthier, with more preventative care in place, and the overall cost per person is significantly lower. The United States spends over 17% of its GDP on healthcare, which is 50% more than France, the next most expensive country, and almost double of what was spent in the United Kingdom (Commonwealthfund.org, 2015). The solution isn’t to push for more Obamacare enrollments in order to appease insurance companies whose only job is to deny care and raise prices. The solution is to abolish insurance companies altogether and implement a constitutional amendment which allows for a single payer system covered by taxes. As much as everyone hates a tax increase, we can expect an increase to be less expensive than what most pay now in combined costs of deductibles, co-pays, premium coverage and inflated prescription prices (Mintz, 2004).

Single-payer healthcare (otherwise known as universal healthcare coverage) offers enormous benefits to businesses by slashing operating costs. Companies would pay substantially less in taxes than their expenditures for costly employee health insurance (Mintz, 2004). It would help level the playing field since corporations outside the United States don’t have the same expenses to contend with (Mintz, 2004). Employers would no longer have to pay for coverage under workers’ compensation which adds up to billions spent each year. Auto insurance rates would drop if insurers were no longer liable for medical bills (Mintz, 2004). Without healthcare costs, companies could afford to hire more employees, which creates a better economy, and smaller businesses would have an enhanced chance to thrive. “The cost of employee health insurance has become a significant factor in the employment slump, as the labor market adds only a trickle of new jobs each month” (Mintz, 2004). Yet, despite all the advantages, corporations mostly shun the universal healthcare option, even though there is evidence that taxpayers would willingly support it. Companies have found that healthcare is such a vital issue to Americans, it’s being used as leverage to keep them tied to jobs they’re unhappy doing.

The high cost of medical care deeply affects America’s economy. In 1981, 8% of Americans filed for bankruptcy due to medical causes and expenses. Twenty years later, that number escalated to 62%. By 2007, Dr. David Himmelstein’s study revealed “…an American family filed bankruptcy every 90 seconds in the aftermath of illness, and medical bankruptcies reached 69.1%.” (Himmelstein, 2007) Dr. Himmelstein’s studies found that most medical debtors were well educated and middle class, with three quarters having health insurance. (Himmelstein, 2007). The largest expenses are hospital bills, prescription drugs, premiums, medical equipment, and nursing homes. According to the World Health Organization, the costliest afflictions include neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, asthma and COPD, mental illness and mood disorders, hepatitis C, diabetes, injuries, joint disorders, autism, stroke, hemophilia, neonatal problems, HIV, dementia and heart conditions (Whelan, 20012 & Anderson, 2016).

38125766_10157499142133942_7134706479914811392_nDespite being mandatorily insured by The Affordable Care Act, popularly referred to as Obamacare, Americans are still forced to find workarounds for injuries, illnesses, and disorders. In the current healthcare system, they are not patients. They are customers. With Obamacare, Americans have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket deductibles before health insurance kicks in to keep costs down. Due to those deductibles, local clinics are popping up everywhere. People can now use a lower cost alternative for many options, such as wasp stings, bronchitis or a broken bone, which is stealing a lot of business away from hospitals. “Hospital operators are now facing a classic “innovator’s dilemma”. If they persist with their high-cost business model, even as their customers discover that cheaper alternatives are good enough, they will be in trouble” (Christensen, 2015). The result? Hospital closures and lost jobs.

Too many in the system are completely left behind. The Affordable Care Act fails to insure 30 million Americans, which is almost 10% of the population. Single payer would close that gap, saving a lot of money and resources spent in administration with the current health care system. Gerald Friedmund, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, estimates a single payer system would save 600 billion dollars the first year. “Right now, Americans pay on average $6,000 a year per person, that includes everybody, for health insurance” (Saintanto, 2016). Additionally, limitations would be abolished. Americans would no longer be allowed only a certain amount of doctors’ visits per year. They’d get what they need.

Good health is essential to enjoying life, liberty and pursuing happiness. No one should die or go bankrupt because they can’t afford to take care of themselves. No one should be bound to a job they despise because it provides health benefits for their family. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

About:

April K. Hunter is a television writer, short story author, copywriter, blogger, and primarily writes thrillers and memoirs. She attends Full Sail University for her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Her work appears in a variety of publications, including RxMusclePage & SpineMedium, and European Journal FONT. Her first book, UNDISCLOSED DARKNESS can be found on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.

A model and pro wrestler, she’s currently a part-time superhero at geek conventions, Mother of Chickens and owned by one spoiled rotten corgi. When not crafting stories, she is learning something new each day or scouring the internet for funny memes while drinking too much coffee.

Insta: @realAprilHunter

www.Patreon.com/aprilhunter

 

References

Anderson, L. PhD. (2016, September 6). Money, money, money: The ten most expensive medical conditions to treat. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/money- money-the-10-most-expensive-conditions-to-treat-1123

Christensen, C. (2016, Sept 17). Shock treatment. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/business/21645741-wasteful-and-inefficient-industry-throes-great-disruption-shock-treatment

Commonwealthfund.org (2015) U.S. healthcare from a global perspective. Retrieved from http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/oct/us-health-care-from-a-global-perspective

Fisher, M. (2012, June 28). Here’s a map of countries that provide universal healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/heres-a-map-of-the-countries-that-provide-universal-health-care-americas-still-not-on-it/259153/

Himmelstein, D. & Thorn, D. & Warren, E. & Woodhandler, S. (2007). Medical bankruptcy in the United States: Results of a national study. Retrieved from http://www.pnhp.org/new_bankruptcy_study/Bankruptcy-2009.pdf

Lueck, S. (2016, August 24). Insurers must recalibrate insurance premiums and costs. Retrieved August 30, 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/08/24/is-obamacare-sustainable/insurers-must-recalibrate-premiums-and-costs

*Mintz, M. (2004, Oct 28). Single payer: Good for business. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.oclc.fullsail.edu:81/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5ca52a42-7de9-4b87-b790-776c79a5172c%40sessionmgr4010&vid=6&hid=4107

Sainato, M. (2016, Jan 19). An economist breaks down single payer healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-sainato/an-economist-breaks-down-_b_9018098.html

Whelan, D. (2012, Feb 25) The 10 most expensive common medical conditions. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidwhelan/2012/02/25/the-10-most-expensive-common-medical-conditions/#6eaaf3fe5a1d

 

 

Moving! But Not Far.

I know, I know…it’s been ages, right? Well, here’s why.

I more or less moved my entire blog (and newsletter) over to www.Patreon.com/AprilHunter .

Why? 

1. Because WordPress reaps the benefits of traffic instead of allowing the writers to earn, whereas Patreon lets creators share our work with both Patrons and non-Patrons. When you spend hours, days, weeks – and with writing, MONTHS –working on something, it’s nice to have the option to NOT be a starving artist. Food is good. 

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Continue reading “Moving! But Not Far.”

To Christ or NOT Christ for Christmas? That is the Question.

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Christmas is a magical time of year. Excitement thickens the air with each passing day. Bells jingling, towns twinkling, vibrant hues of red, silver and gold, and the warm, buttery aroma of cookies fresh from the oven heighten our senses. Glistening snow drifts silently in the dark of night and creates a fresh vision of what we disregard every other day.

But, there’s an undercurrent of discontent during the holiday season as well. (I use the word ‘discontent’ because ‘content’ is the goal for most of us.) Every year, we are subjected to the same tired news story about the (alleged) War On Christmas. Unfortunately, if it’s delivered by the almighty TV screen, Americans accept it as gospel truth.

Then there’s the grumbling. “Holiday Trees! What? They’re Christmas trees! I’m saying MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is exactly what’s wrong with America. They need to put Christ back into Christmas. This country needs Jesus.”

For a small class of federal employees, it’s illegal to say “Merry Christmas”, and many companies have been quick to follow in discouraging the saying lest they offend.

I agree the term “holiday tree” is tragic. I’m perfectly fine with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Not so much on the rest. This may piss some of y’all off, but the origin of Jesus Christ has little to do with December 25th, Christmas, or its traditions. More on that in a moment.

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I think politically correct = boring as fuck. A writer’s job is to talk about the things you think, but cannot say. Americans LOVE telling others how they should think. We live for it.  For all the hypocritical prattling we do about free speech and the Constitution, telling others what to do and how they should think is almost a national pastime. “Don’t be stupid. You need to do it how I would. If you don’t, I’ll complain vehemently about you on social media, which will surely fix everything. If anyone disagrees, FUCK THEM. Unfriended.”

Do me a favor and read this entire essay before dashing off a knee-jerk reaction email. A crazy thing to ask, I realize.

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The holidays are a mixed bag for my friends and colleagues, which usually stems from emotional and financial burdens rather than religious reasons. The majority of my atheist friends love Christmas with no issues regarding festivities. They don’t give a rat’s fat ass if it makes people happy to have nativity scenes front and center. Some may snicker off to the side about The Extremists, but most just do their own thing. My “other” friends (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Dudeists…) may celebrate it for fun or enjoy the day off to check out the latest in theaters.

On the flip side, Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the holiday altogether because of its ties to Paganism and their sentiment that it fails to worship the son of God properly. They feel the holiday ritualizes sinful behavior (can’t argue that logic) and their belief is that Jesus wasn’t born in December.

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The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear.” -Elf

Not always. Some loathe the holiday. It can be a painful reminder of estranged relatives, lost loved ones, anxiety due to impending travel or family (we all love the terribly significant National Lampoons Christmas Vacation movie for a reason), or the heavy feeling of obligation regarding time, energy, and spending. Xanax-Prozac-vodka gingerbread martini, anyone?

There’s the opinion that Christmas has lost its meaning, or there’s too much forced/expected materialism. But mostly, it’s just not their gig. They haven’t declared War On Christmas. They just wish it over so they can move on.

Family lies within the spirit, not the blood. It’s whom we love, which isn’t always those who we’re related to.

 

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I adore Christmas. (Admittedly, I don’t go near shopping centers. This is why Amazon exists. For those who say “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”, you’ve clearly never worked retail during the holidays.) I’m that merry asshole who Griswolds the ever-loving crap out of my yard the minute Thanksgiving is over. Black Friday? Nonsense. It’s red, white and green Friday!

I adore the symbolism of Christmas; peppermint everything, Santa, cookies, anticipation in children, ridiculous pet costumes, “Letters to Santa” mailboxes, cookies, neighbors lighting up their homes (C’mon, put something out, fuckers. They make solar Christmas lights now. No electric bills, no excuses!), sparkling trees in windows, cookies, babies in mangers, snow (if we should be so lucky), pumpkin pie, candlelight service, cookies, and the music, with or without “holy” in the lyrics. I need Elf, In Bruges, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, Joyeaux Noel, Rudolph and the Abominable in my house. 

And COOKIES.

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I’m not religious these days but grew up in a church. (Today, my stance is the only thing I know is that we don’t know. No one has come back and told us anything for sure, so I remain open-minded.) I was raised in a pretty narrow vortex; Reagan was god. Everyone reads. Hunting, crabbing and having a garden was the norm. The only language you needed to know was English; it’s universal. Dogs were never allowed inside the house. It was never acceptable to talk about politics, sex or religion. Whatever we are surrounded with is ‘normal’. If we grow up with Mom screaming at us all the time or our fathers eating their young, then we’ll probably scream at our partners and think eating children is customary unless exposed to another way. ***

“If you are the smartest person in a room, it’s time to change rooms.”

XmasPunisher - CopyThanks to modeling and professional wrestling, I was given more options. In Europe, I discovered you’re considered uninteresting if you don’t talk politics, sex or religion, and being dull is the surest way not to get invited back to a dinner party. I’ve since found Americans enjoy talking about these topics, but aren’t always good at it. The trick: be willing to (truly) listen without pushing your own agenda. For real. Shut the fuck up and listen. Don’t try to convert, conversate. If you can be respectful and open to other points of view, you can have meaningful banter instead of lame surface talk. You’ll also become a gold medal champ at navigating through hot-button issues at family dinners. People like to be heard and have their opinion valued. It’s an art. Know that most chats are NOT going to end with the person across from you sharing your beliefs, and that’s exactly what makes it interesting – to see why they feel the way they do. If you surround yourself with people who are just like you, you won’t grow.

If all else fails, these words, followed by a change of topic, save lives: “I can understand/appreciate where you’re coming from. It’s good to see it from your perspective. Hey, by the way, did you see that Spice Girl reunion thing on YouTube? They still look great!”

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Once I started traveling, my eyes opened. Few in Germany spoke English, as I’d been assured. Mein Gott. Was für eine Scheiße ist das? Not everyone dreams of coming to America. Our healthcare mostly sucks and it’s devastatingly expensive, but if you need to be put back together quickly, this is where we medically excel. Pets are not only allowed in houses but they sleep on beds. Some people don’t hunt or eat meat, despite evolving with teeth to do so. My parents hadn’t exactly prepared me for doing global business in the world we live in.

With a world education at my fingertips, I began to Question Authority and Think for Myself. With the click of a mouse, any query I had could be researched.  Traveling is also the greatest education one can get. I highly advise everyone to do so, and not the resort-type. Get out and see the world. It’s a solid investment in yourself.

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I learned fascinating things regarding America, religion, and Christmas which I’ll share with you.

Fact: “In God We Trust” appeared on our money fairly recently and had everything to do with fighting a cold war against the Soviets (used as propaganda), not our collective American beliefs. Many of our forefathers were agnostic or Puritan, which is reflected in the way our Constitution was written. They understood that a country embedded in forced religion was not morally ideal, since they (and theirs) left a world rife with religion dissention, and felt Americans should have free choice in the matter. We’ve seen many ongoing religious massacres somehow perversely justified in the name of someone’s god in just the past few years: Ireland, Bosnia, Armenia, Rwanda, and Myanmar to name a few.

We should absolutely respect one another’s beliefs – or lack thereof – because we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country which vehemently protects this right by constitutional law.

Fact: The celebration of Christmas was adopted from Pagan traditions and has been around far longer than the manger birth. The Catholics, eager to convert as many as possible, compromised with Pagans and allowed them to keep some of their traditions. Easter is another one, from Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility.

Yes. That makes two major Christian holidays named by Anglo Saxons after Pagan Deities.

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Zealots have never let a few facts get in the way of preaching an agenda, but for those who like to be grounded in reality, here are some more interesting historical nuggets:

FACT: Our Christmas tree (call it a holiday tree and I’ll cut ya) originated from old Pagan ceremonies. The Vikings thought Evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder. Some counties believed that hanging evergreens on doors (wreaths) kept evil spirits and illness at bay. Germany is credited with making the tree “a thing”. Queen Victoria, eager to please her German husband, Prince Albert, honored his traditions and the Royals were shown in newspapers posing next to their tree. Martin Luther (started the Protestant religion) was said to be awed by the beauty of a lighted tree and widely encouraged it. Pennsylvania, with its dense German population, brought the tree to America. (Another fun fact: The USA has no official language, but we were only a few short votes from making it German before they decide to nix the whole process.)

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FACT: December 25th refers to the Winter Solstice dating back to Egyptian times. It’s to celebrate the birth of the sun, not the “son”.  In ancient times, people lived and died by the sun, which brought the light, heat, and crops. The sun was regarded as a god and worshipped appropriately. Without being able to explain how this all worked, they created stories. Light battled Darkness and rose again to save the day – and alternately, mankind.

 

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FACT: On the Julius calendar, if Christ was born, his birth would fall on January 6th, which is a date many Orthodox religions use.

So, why is the birth of Jesus celebrated on Christmas? Because it may have been. While our modern holiday traditions aren’t overly religious in actual origin, there IS this: The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of Roman Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor. A very early Christian tradition said the day Mary was told that she’d give birth to a very special infant (called the Annunciation) was March 25th. Nine months from that date is what we know as Christmas, so it was chosen as his birth date. A few years after Emperor Constantine started the tradition, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December, and history was made.

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FACT: A broad-sweeping comment like “We need Jesus to fix this country” can be wholly offensive. It insinuates that one needs a book to have morals, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Considering we are already a Christian nation (as over 75% of America profess to be affiliated), that solution does not be the answer to our problems. Personally, I don’t need a book or the threat of a hell to not murder someone. There’s a substantial group of wonderful human beings who have never read the Bible, or did but have zero fucks to give, and generally do the right thing. Religion does not equal ethics, as we’ve seen with the thousands of scandals in the Catholic Church alone.

But, people are inherently good, with or without the guidance of the Bible, and despite what we are inundated with on the news (and then subjected to via regurgitation on social networks), we are safer today than we’ve ever been in United States history. We may not FEEL safe because we’re constantly barraged with negative shit, but remember: Unlike the not-so-distant past, our news is now 24-hours a day and they have to fill that time with something…anything. Preferably trainwrecks, because we can’t look away. Crying moms = ratings.  Ratings = $$$$$$$$. The goal? Yeah. Feature crying moms, front and center.

Look away.

Once again: Religion doesn’t equate to morals, morals don’t equate to religion. They can be synonymous, but not always.

 

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FACT: For the past century, Christmas has been traditionally accepted as a celebration of the birth of Jesus or for the exchange of gifts. This shouldn’t offend anyone. It’s kind of like the abortion argument: if you don’t agree with it, you certainly don’t have to get one should you find yourself up Shits Creek in the family way. But, you have absolutely no right telling others how to live their lives.

Any other reaction shows a blatant lack of respect and suggests you feel your beliefs are superior to others. Live and let live.

Christian scriptures tell us Jesus was at odds with the cultural and political powers in which he found himself. He was not born to be a son of the Emperor in the palaces of Rome. He was born to be the son of a carpenter in a small village called Bethlehem. He fled a war zone as a refugee to escape death and later returned to do his work, which was speaking candidly (and rather radically for those times) about God’s love for all of humanity, and especially for those the privileged had rejected. This was so threatening to those in power, they silenced him by killing him. Jesus, for all accounts, was a defiant rebel. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and reckon that He would be okay with us a.) saying whatever at Christmas and b.) celebrating however we want, as long as we’re treating others the way we want to be treated.

 

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With so many ways to celebrate this spectacular holiday, Christmas is whatever we want it to be, just like a wedding. Perhaps you’ll opt for the giant white dress and a full Catholic mass? Or elope in a private ceremony at the courthouse? (Note: neither version will protect you from divorce statistics.)

As you’ve probably figured out, I take no stance because there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate what makes you happy, as long as you’re not murdering puppies.**** I have no political or religious affiliation, which benefits in seeing all sides. Even if I did, I feel I’m mature enough to put my own personal feelings aside, not be selfish and understand what works for me might not work for others. My stance is strictly respecting people’s freedom of choice. I understand that science is a beautiful thing, but it’s not always a comfort.

Some will always prefer to be critical. Unfortunately, it’s illegal to shake ‘em like a baby.** Whether it’s those who refuse to accept historical facts – and aggressively yell “MERRY CHRISTMAS”, or the vocal minority who thrive on getting offended and just cannot seem to respect other’s beliefs, perhaps a little less judgment about “how Christmas is SUPPOSED to be” and more sharing of cookies is a nicer option. After all, if you can’t change your situation, change your perspective and reaction. (That’s how you Choose Happiness.)  Like it or not, Winter Is Coming.

 

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My real opinion is that there is no war on Christmas, never has been. It’s simply another attempt by ratings-driven media (anger porn) to keep the “divide and conquer” agenda in this country going. Don’t fall for the bullshit. My only war on Christmas is that they bring that stuff out in stores before we’ve even had a chance to get our Halloween candy. What. The. Fuck.

 

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Someone sent me this video: “God Is In Everything, Every Molecule That Holds Us Together” by Pastor Louie Giglio. 8 minutes and quite interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuDtlHtWR64

Whatever you celebrate, with or without the dear lord baby Jesus, I hope you have a very merry one.

Peace, love, and peppermint to you and yours. Happy HolliChristHanuKwanza.

Don’t shoot your eye out.

 

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PLEASE NOTE:

**I absolutely do not ever advise shaking babies. It’s pure sarcasm. Unless they’re really, really annoying. Then make your own adult decision.

***With the plethora of grocery stores widely available, I don’t advocate eating your children. While it may be cost-effective right now (toy shopping can really add up), think about the bigger picture. Eventually, you’ll get old and they might take care of your diapered ass if you raise them right.

****Like bacon, puppies prove there’s a God.

 

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Like this blog? Wanna donate? I absolutely accept tips and LOVE Amazon gift cards. My Wishlist:  http://a.co/4AUJWBt

April K. Hunter is a television writer, short story author, and blogger. She primarily writes thrillers and memoirs. April attends Full Sail University for her bachelor’s degree in creative writing for entertainment. Her work appears in a variety of publications, including RxMuscle, Page & Spine, Medium and European Journal FONT. She is a model and former pro wrestler. 

 

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Visit me on my website www.AprilHunter.com and Instagram: @realAprilHunter

Thank you to Hubert O’Hearn and Gregg Silliman for ideas and editing.

 

Resources:

http://time.com/4179685/in-god-we-trust-currency-history/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/in-god-we-trust-doesnt-mean-what-you-think-it-does

http://amazingdiscoveries.org/S-deception_end-time_paganism_Catholic_Mithraism

http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/pagan-symbols.html

http://www.history.com/topics/winter-solstice/print

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees

https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-23/world-actually-safer-ever-and-heres-data-prove

http://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/top-news/divide-conquer-101-america-destabilized-within/

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/

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