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for our Global Pen Pal, Year 2009, we will go in yet another direction in our global letter writing. This year we will try to engage an intergenerational discussion across cultures, generations with 2 people who have never met before. I have been kindly introduced to Hella Kramer in Bonn, Germany. Hella is a retired physician, mother and grandmother living in Europe. I am an active working mother of 2 boys, age 4 and 6, with aging parents. I am the founder and managing editor of IF mag (my name is Cat Wayland) and I teach as a substitute teacher. I should like us to write to one another when the time is available and find out one another's perspective. I hope to learn much and make a new friend.

Dear Hella,

Our month of May here at International Family Magazine discusses the health of family life.  As you are a retired doctor, this may be of particular interest to you.  In this issue, we discuss the physical, mental and emotional health of family life. 

One thing that I hear from people outside of the U.S. is that Americans like to talk about themselves and self-analyze.  I don’t disagree with this.  And would be happy to not be such a perfectionist and constantly measure myself against some impossible ideal of success in my capitalist society. 

And in my time abroad, in particular in Barcelona, Spain, I spent more time in leisure.  I took siestas and I enjoyed travel and holidays more than here in the U.S.  And so I wonder as a doctor from Germany, do you find that Europeans know how to relax a bit better, thus having a healthier, happier, longer life. 

We didn’t discuss the healthcare system in this issue but have touched upon it in previous issues.  Here in the U.S., we are unique in our non-government sponsored health care system.  What do you think of that?  I wish that everyone had access to good doctors at a reasonable cost.  And I do like that when I travel abroad, I can get medicine at pharmacies without so much control by costly professionals.  In particular with anti-biotic.  I have chronic sinusitis.  Why should I go to a doctor each time when that diagnosis and a shrunken sinus cavity are in my file?  Why can’t I just get my antibiotic at the drugstore and forego a timely, costly doctor bill?

Hope this letter finds you well.  Warmly, Cat

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