The Gift of Patience

Patience. It’s something I have been thinking about a great deal, especially this time of year when there are extra things that need to get done for the holidays on top of my usual responsibilities. A quick internet search produced the following definition:

Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

I like that definition as I have come to learn that patience really is about acceptance and tolerance of things that are not quite the way you want them to be.

There are several things that have been testing my patience lately. I have a morning ritual that includes reading the newspaper – and I am an old-fashioned girl who likes to read the actual paper version, not the e-edition I can access online. For some reason, the carrier has been delivering the paper almost an hour later than usual…which is too late for me to read before I head to work. This has forced me to choose between reading the e-edition or skipping it altogether, neither of which I prefer. I’ve opted for the e-edition for now. I do plan to reach out to the carrier after the holidays, to see if this is just a short-term change or if this will be the new norm, but for the time being, I have had to accept that this is just the way it is.

Another situation that has tested my patience for the past several months is related to health insurance coverage. After several years of having to purchase health insurance on our own, I feel fortunate that my family and I have access to more affordable health insurance through my part-time position as a wellness coach. However, I have been wrangling with the insurance company since the spring regarding payment for the anesthesiology services provided during my colonoscopy. Turns out, the facility where I had my procedure is in-network, but the anesthesiology practice is not. (Yes, head-scratcher, isn’t it, considering you can’t bring your own in-network anesthesiologist to your colonoscopy – and I can’t choose where my gastro performs the procedure!) The insurance company initially denied the claim from the anesthesiologist, who in turn appealed the decision on my behalf.

I was excited to get the initial letter saying that the appeals committee agreed to process the claim as in-network, only to be followed by a more detailed letter explaining that they would only cover the “maximum allowable amount” and the anesthesiologist could balance bill me for the difference. From reading the EOB, it appears that the maximum allowable amount is only about 10% of what the anesthesiologist actually billed (incredulous and I will be calling the insurance company about this but not today). Fortunately for me, the anesthesiologist is only charging me a small portion of the remainder of the bill. I have decided to go ahead and pay it as the poor provider deserves to be compensated for her time especially given that the colonoscopy was back in May…but this is just one example of our broken healthcare system. I just don’t have the time or energy to fight the insurance company any longer. I’ve come to accept that this is just the way it is, right or wrong.

As I mentioned earlier, the holidays are another time when my patience often gets tested. This happened last night, as I was trying to finish up shopping for gifts before we travel to visit family. I didn’t really have a hard time with the shopping itself but rather the frustration that the responsibility was all falling on me while my husband and daughter were home watching a movie. I could feel the resentment building by the time I finished up at the last store. When I got home, I calmly informed them that I didn’t appreciate the fact that I was the one doing all the work while they were having all the fun. I could tell they felt a little guilty, and I will be sure that the holiday tasks get divided up more evenly next year. However, I also realized that I took on a lot of the responsibility myself and did not ask for help when I started to feel a little overwhelmed with everything on my plate. Lesson learned.

One thing that I am grateful for is that I am much more patient than I used to be – and I credit that change to my mindfulness meditation practice. I used to have a very short fuse and blow up over the “small stuff” as they say. I didn’t like that about myself and I knew it was really only hurting me and my wellbeing. I still consider myself a work in progress and that is why my wish for the new year is to cultivate even more patience – with myself and with others. We are all human and we all make mistakes now and then. Treating myself and others with compassion is the greatest gift I can give myself.

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year!



Mindful Gift Giving

I had the opportunity this week to step in for a colleague and present her wellness seminar on “Decluttering Your Life: Taking Control of Your Space.” This is a favorite topic of mine, partly because it is an ongoing challenge for me and my family and I am always looking for new strategies to help manage our “stuff.” We have made a concerted effort over the last several years to reduce the amount of material things that we possess, but I’ll admit it is still a work in progress.

If there is one thing that the decluttering presentation reminded me, it is that Americans have too much stuff. Did you know that 1 out of every 10 Americans rents an offsite storage unit? Offsite storage units have been the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. I believe it, as it seems like there is one on every corner here in Raleigh – and many of them are directly across the street from each other! It astounds – and saddens me – every time I drive by them.

Given this cultural obsession with stuff and knowing that many of my friends and family members have also reached a point of not needing or wanting any more material possessions, I intentionally seek out gift ideas that won’t contribute to the clutter epidemic. Given that the holidays are upon us, I thought I would share some gift giving ideas for those of you who also wish to shop more mindfully. Most of these ideas apply to adults, but I think there are many children who also would enjoy an outing or an experience over another toy that they will be bored with in a few weeks.

For the foodies in your life:

  • Restaurant gift cards – you can never go wrong with a gift certificate to someone’s favorite restaurant, or perhaps a new restaurant they’ve wanted to visit. Even more budget-friendly options like fast casual restaurants (think Panera Bread) will be a welcome gift for those nights when they just don’t feel like cooking.


  • Cooking classes – a great experience for anyone trying to hone their culinary skills. Many restaurants and culinary stores (e.g., Williams Sonoma) offer classes throughout the year.


  • Tasting tours – many cities have food tasting tours, where you visit multiple restaurants, talk with chefs, learn about the culinary landscape of the city, and enjoy delicious food and drink. As a bonus, many of these tours are walking tours so you get in some physical activity too!


  • Grocery store gift cards – whether it’s for their favorite grocery store or a more high-end store where shopping might be a real treat, they’re sure to be grateful for the nourishment.


For fitness-oriented friends and family:

  • Membership to the local YMCA or other fitness facility – or if they already belong to a fitness center, offer to pay for the renewal


  • Gift certificate to try out classes like yoga, Pilates, martial arts or indoor rock climbing


  • Pay for a round of golf on their favorite course, or maybe a new course they’ve wanted to try


  • A day pass for skiing or snowboarding at a nearby resort


For the entertainment junkies:

  • Movie gift certificates – let them escape reality for a couple hours and throw in a little extra for some concession snacks (Note: Consider Fandango if you don’t know their local movie theater chain)


  • Tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event – so many options at the high school, college or professional level. If your budget doesn’t allow a big splurge like Broadway or the NFL, staying closer to home is a great way to support local theaters, performers and athletes.


  • Membership to a local museum – whether it’s art, history, or natural sciences, you are giving the gift of exploration


These are just some ideas to hopefully spark your imagination! Whether the gifts you give are large or small, store-bought or homemade, those who truly love you know that it’s the thought that counts.