Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Happy New Year!!!

Today is not just a regular 24 hour and done kind of day.  Today is the type of day that changes everything.  At the stroke of midnight tonight we are magically transported in an invisible time machine that moves us forward into a brand new, unused, endless possibilities, NEW YEAR! 

I mean every new day also changes everything but somehow a new year...that movement not only in the hours of a day but moving into an entirely new year inspires us to start again.  Diet and exercise become doable (for at least a week until your muscles are killing you and you give up, hee hee), you set high goals for things to achieve in this year.

I am NOT anti-goal setting.  In fact I feel like it's necessary to set goals to move you forward in life.  I love the quote that says, "It's far better to shoot for the stars and miss than to aim for the gutter and hit."  It goes along with another of my favorite quotes, "Maddest of all is to see the world as it IS and not as it should be!"

So...have you got your star shooting goals lined up?  Ready, steady, shoot...don't those stars look interesting?  Isn't it delightful to experience that lack of gravity that space brings?  It's wonderful to aim, to reach, HIGH...HIGHER...HIGHEST!! 

I hear someone say, "Why?  I've done this before...set the goals and then not measured up.  Why try again?"  I've been in your position my discouraged friend.  I will tell you why...to repeat, "It's better to aim for the stars and miss then to aim for the gutter and hit."  Sometimes when you can't quite reach those highly set goals, just the stretch to achieve them is enough.  If you slip off the star (goal) you still are better for having made the reach. 

Here is my New Year's Resolution.  I resolve to aim high, and dream huge.  I also aim to forgive myself when I slip, stumble, or fall, and determine to NEVER GIVE UP!  It's OK to fail, but it's never OK to just quit!  So, you've fallen, scraped your knee or broken a bone.  Get up, get treated, and keep moving even if it's just an inch at a time.

Remember life ever so kindly gives us so many opportunities to start anew...new minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years.  Then add to that, Birthdays, Life ritual types of renewal (Bar or Bat Mitzvah,  Communion, Baptism, Fire Rituals, etc. etc.  Rituals of renewal give us more chances to grow.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope that this New Year will truly bring you great joy.  I challenge you if the year is filled with sorrow and trial look hard.  Stretch to find those blessings that may seem eclipsed by sorrow.  They ARE there.  I promise that there is even joy to be found in the most awful of situations.  Prospero Ano, one and all, or in English Prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Seek and ye Shall Find

I wrote a post a year ago that is still pertinent this year 2013.  The only thing is that you will have to search because it's way down towards the end of my posts.  Don't give up, I hope that you find it worth reading.  It always amazes me how writing brings so much clarity to my own life.  I hope that it somehow helps you as well.

The title is Christmas Crazies...Reason for the Season.  Sending my love out to all those that have blessed my life this last year.  Thank you, each and everyone for the joy, and faith you help me to have.

Feliz Navidad, Prospero Ano to all my Spanish speaking friends and family.  Happy Christmas to all my dear friends in the UK and Canada.  Merry Christmas to my English speaking, American friends, but more than the words, I wish you love, and brilliant light as this season arrives and progresses!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Am I A Mommy Blogger or Something New and Different?

I keep hearing about "Mommy Bloggers."  I understand that it refers to Mom's that write blogs.  Does that definition only refer to young mom's that write blogs?  Or can those of us who no longer fit the definition of "young" claim that fame as well?  My kids are grown-up, I am a widow...I no longer work outside the home.  What am I?  Who am I?

Along my path in life I've learned some excellent lessons.  One of those lessons is "Do NOT allow your profession to become your definition of self."  I know that will sound strange to some people.  To some the thrill of competition, charging yourself to rise, always rise on the ladder upwards towards financial security and "success" becomes the heart and soul of their self-definition.

When we buried my beloved Mom-in-law I was trying to distract myself from how sad I felt.  So I began to read the tombstones buried around her.  On one tombstone it said, "He was a successful businessman."  It made me think of Charles Dickens, "The Christmas Carol."  When Ebenezer Scrooge is visited late one Christmas Eve by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, Ebenezer is trying to comfort the grieving ghost.  Ebenezer says, "You were always a good man of business Jacob."  Jacob rises and shakes his chains as he cries out, "Business, MANKIND WAS MY BUSINESS!" 

At the relatively young age of 42 I was forced into retirement by multiple serious health problems.  Suddenly I was faced with a moral dilemma.  Who was I now?  I no longer had a career.  Yes, I was still a Mom, and a wife, but was that ALL that I was, or was that enough?

Surprise, surprise...life requires you to find new definitions of self as you move on through?  A beautiful passage from the Bible says, "To every thing turn, turn, turn, there is a season turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven, A time to be born, A time to die..."  Is there a new definition that you gain as you face these new seasons? 

I'm finding that letting go of the old sorrows, grief, frustrations, and looking for the newness in life, even for my Mama at 94 years of age, can be the very best, ultimate definition.  The definition that says, "This person NEVER quit learning, and trying new things!"  That is the definition I want.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I was moved to tears just now.  These were happy tears.   I like to review the statistics on my blog and find out how many are reading, and from where.  It gives me a just a little booster of confidence to keep writing.  Imagine my joy to discover that 11 people read yesterday, and 11 people today.

Why is that tender and poignant I imagine you asking?  11:11 is the only time of the day when all four digits are the same.  Early in our marriage Nyle announced that when we were together at  11:11 a.m. or p.m. whatever we were doing we would quit.  We would then hold hands for that one minute until 11:12 happened.  Even when we were in the midst of an argument we would stop and hold hands for that minute and often it would re-set us enough to be more logical and less emotional in our difference of opinion.

So whenever I see 11 connected to 11, in any format, I feel Nyle here beside me.  I feel the sometimes calloused masculinity of his hand.  I adored the way my rather small hand was simply swallowed up by Nyle's.  With my hand in his I felt powerful!  I could take on the struggles of the world and win because he was on my team, and I was on his!

He is no longer a physical being.  He IS  a spiritual being now.  That does NOT mean that he is gone...he is just a lot harder to see.  Yet I feel him close, often, and it is such a blessing to believe that we WILL be together again!

Until then, I will hold his hand every 11:11, whether it be 11:11 as the time of day, or 11/11 in the status of readers.  So today Nyle, I am holding your hand, and once again I am powerful in the love that we share!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oh Really Joel Stein?

I like to think of myself as a peacekeeper, a pacifist.  I like to put out the hot fires of contention wherever, and whenever I can.  I have a hair trigger temper, but I like to believe that in my 57 years of life I've come a long way towards cooling my emotions and using my head instead.  Having said that, today there is a fire burning hot in my heart.

Starting my day I happened to pick up a Time Magazine.  It was opened to an article that said, "My 3% Problem."  The first line reads "Income Inequality is so unfair.  How can I fight it without giving up my money?"

I recognize that his article is satirical...a not so gentle poke at the 3% and 1% richest of our population,  Many of those wealthy HAVE worked diligently, sometimes obsessively, to reach that pinnacle of wealth.  There are individuals who have inherited a huge quantity of money, and work tirelessly to redistribute it amongst the population on this planet. 

What about the 97% of people who face life in the hopelessness of poverty, or the work hard to support your family kind of living.  Do you consider that many of those 97% have CHOSEN to work in jobs that do not pay much money.  These people have worked just as hard as those 3% and 1% but they have consciously chosen positions that will NEVER earn them wealth.

How about the people like my youngest daughter (Who is one of the Shero's in my life!) who chose to go to school for 5 years to become a school teacher.  Yes...she knew beginning her education how little she was going to earn but she wanted to make a difference on this planet!  I won't reveal the abysmmally low amount that she is paid for the more than 50 hours of work she puts in every single week.  Here is a hint, I made almost as much money as she does in 1993 as an Administrative Assistant...without a college degree.  I also had no student loans to repay.

I respect people who have worked hard and "Paid their dues," and now find themselves with the "frightening" prospect of being richer than 97% of the population. 

I once made the mistake of listening a moment too long to a talk show.  I have purposely forgotten who the speaker was.  Her topic? "Don't help your family or friends financially.  It makes them needy." 

If the program had been interactive like Willy Wonka, I would have reached in and delivered one single face slap.  Then I would have said, "Did it ever occur to you that maybe God by whatever name you call Him, may have let you become fabulously wealthy to HELP those family members struggling and having a hard time.  Maybe not by giving a hand out...but a hand up.  It may seem a small thing, but it's actually the best way to make this planet a better place.

Oh sure, I know that there are those folks that take advantage of the wealthy.  I know that there will always be hands out wanting to share your wealth with none of the work.  So what better way to "equalize" the planets population than starting small.  The idea of "Start up" funds is quite brilliant.  There are ever so many ways to hand-up instead of hand-out.

I watch the television program "The Shark's" once in awhile.  For those who haven't watched it, (and probably were doing something more productive with their time than sitting on their fanny's watching television like me)  I can tell in about a nanosecond if the Shark's (a gathered group of those 1% folks) are going to invest in the dream, the pitch of the person who is there.  They hear every single kind of a thing that people are creating and dreaming about.  One of the most successful was a a "gapper" that you put in your car to fill in the evil "Black Hole" that exists in the front seat of all cars/  Such a simple idea, but quite brilliant.  Another was a sock that came up out of the top of a woman's fashion boot with lace and ruffles.  Believe it or not that particular product was wildly successful.  There is a fashion style that I will NOT be investing in.  Too reminscent of the ruffly ankle socks that I wore as a child.  Those ruffles kind of give adorable children cankles,

As for how to make a difference in the status quo of the entire world's population, that's easy.  Reach out to those who ARE struggling.  Maybe do a Celine Dion, and distribute the money you earn regularly to the rest of your family so THEY aren't struggling so hard.  Help a fledgling student going into teaching with educational costs.  I could list many, many ways...that will be another post on my blog...I feel it coming! 

My Uncle inherited the family sheep ranch.  That included 9,000 acres of rocks, dirt, sage brush and several hundred head of sheep.  He also inherited a bunch of debt.  He had three sisters.  They were each given a set amount of money for their inheritance.  Many years of hard work, and sheep ranching later oil was found on the ranch.  My Uncle didn't even have to think about what to do with the money.  He divided it between himself and his sisters.  He paid for the college loans of a kid who had miserable parents.  He probably was in the 10% of the planet that are comfortable but not fabulously wealthy.  He probably could have been closer to that fabulous number if he DIDN'T always share the ranches rewards with his sisters.  He didn't have too.  Nobody would have judged him harshly if he hadn't.  He didn't even consider any other course of action.  

My amazing, brilliant, beautiful older daughter was accepted to Cambridge last year.  She received her Master's in History from that amazing place.  She NEEDS her Doctorate so that she can fulfill her dream of becoming a College Professor.  She couldn't get one single scholarship.  Not one party or person stepped up and said, "Sure, I'll help you reach your dream.  For those of you who think that it's "Anti-American" to earn a foreign education, it takes THREE years to get her Doctorate in the U.K.  The same diploma in the U.S. is SEVEN years!  Really, truly, she could go to Med School and make a heckofalot more money than being a professor at a university!

My daughter (she is another one of my Shero's) volunteers three times a year with the Model United Nations Program.  This year she will work with the programs in DC, NYC, and Portland, OR.  She works with students from all around the globe.  She teaches them diplomacy, how to negotiate when there are barriers of cultural differences, and the differences of personality, and she also teaches them about global welfare.  They divide into groups and are assigned a country to represent.  This program helps young people understand world issues, goal setting, and negotiation.  When questioned once, "Sweetie do YOU wish to become a diplomat?"  Her response was instantaneous, "No, I want to teach young students the skills that THEY NEED to become diplomats."    

 Don't worry Mr. Stein I don't hold it against you that you're STINKING, INCREDIBLY RICH!  As a matter of fact I respect and admire the chutzpah that you must have to achieve that remarkable goal.  Just remember that with riches comes opportunity.  You have the rare and wonderful gift of changing lives.  Please don't take that gift lightly!

Friday, November 29, 2013


Mama was the mistress of passive aggression.  I say was because she rarely does that activity at 94.  Now I say this with love...because that was not and is not all that there is to her.  She is an intense woman of love.  You are blessed to be loved by my Mama!  Not only did she raise her 3 biological children well but she also fostered more than 15-20 children. 

I find psychology fascinating.  We have come so far into understanding the physiology of the human mind.  For example, we now know that mental health is not a flaw of character.  We understand that our personalities are sometimes held mysteriously in the wrinkles and curves of our all too human brains.  One portion of our brain creates memory, another creativity...etc. etc.  Yet personalities still remain more than the sum of our chemicals and physical dimensions of brain.

Back to Mama, sometimes when she was with family or close friends and her kids were in the room she would start speaking about some issue, some frustration that she had with us as children.  Those frustrations ran the gamut from not picking up after ourselves to open rebellion against her in some form or another. 
Witnessing how much that hurt...having her air her frustrations to others, and not to just me...grew and grew inside of me.  Imprinting is the word that is now used to describe this annoying thing that happens when we witness our parents actions over and over and over again day and night for the first 18 years of our life.  When you see a certain behavior over and over and over again from parents...even if you loathe that behavior, chances are very, very good that in your adult life, with your family and friends you will repeat their actions.

For example.  Last night we were visiting with my husband's brother and his wife.  Out of my mouth spills my frustration that our daughters rescued two cats and a dog, and if any care is given to those animals,  litter boxes cleaned, animals groomed, or routine vet visits the bulk of the care is mine. 

All three of the animals sleep on my bed, and since my husband has passed I do enjoy their comfort.  Yet, instead of going straight to the girls and speaking to them about my frustrations it builds inside of me, like an evil seed, and then pours out on innocents who have no desire to hear!  I honestly had no intention of saying those words.  Consciously I NEVER wish to speak in a negative way about or towards our beloved daughters.

Almost instantly I realized what I was doing, but I realized it a second to late to stop my actions. 

The reality is that I should have spoken to the girls.  We could work out a schedule together so that I'm not always the cat clean up committee.  They HAVE helped me from time to time with the critters.  They do give the critters lots of time for snuggling, and love giving.

Overcoming imprinting requires a great deal of effort.  Yet IT CAN BE DONE!  The first step is realizing, recognizing our behaviors.  If we can't seem to overcome them on our own there is absolutely NO SHAME in going to a licensed counselor, or psychologist and getting behavioral therapy.  In fact it takes great courage to face the imprinting and change yourself for better!

Passive aggression is something that I CAN OVERCOME!  I do not want to pass this behavior on to the next generation!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

YUP...it's that time again.  The time when we eat ourselves into a coma, and then some watch sports (not me), some spend this time with their family.  In my home growing up there was a huge family on both my Mom's side and my Dad's side close to us.  So we took turns getting together on holidays.

I remember as a little girl sitting at the kitchen table listening to all the ladies while they peeled, boiled, scrubbed, and chopped things into amazing delicacies.  It wasn't the cooking I was interested in.  (I didn't like it then, and I don't like now.)  It was the family information that was dispensed in those clean, cheery kitchens.  Even then I was, as my Mother described, "A little pitcher with big ears."  (What does that phrase mean by the way)?

The men were all in their pre-assigned roles of sitting in front of the television screaming and cheering for their favorite sports teams.  My beloved Papa didn't really care for sports...but didn't want to be in the kitchen (the women's domain).  So he usual lived in a sub-world of his own, neither sportsie or kitchenish.

Oh the glorious food!  Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, sometimes au gratin potatoes.  So many types of pickled things, beets, cucumbers (dill and sweet pickles), I'm certain there were other types as well but I don't remember them.  Breads of various and sundries sorts.  Turkey...mouth wateringly juicy and delicious.  (Nobody was vegetarian, but if they were they would NOT have told anybody and risked offended the cook).  Desert?  Who had room by the time they had ingested the above listed plus many, MANY types of vegetables?

Several hours later there were the desserts, pumpkin pies (one of my personal favorites...love that nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves combined to create unbridled joy in the palate.  There was brownies, cookies of all sorts and varieties, and did I mention the REAL WHIPPED CREAM for the pie?  That was almost better than the pie itself.  The rich fullness of that cream was a necessity to accompany pumpkin pie.  Don't skimp...I prefer the pie covered with at least an inch of whipped cream!

I didn't realize consciously that gratitude was part of my celebration until I was an adult.  Oh I heard the adults mouth platitudes about their various reasons for thanksgiving.  All I thought was, "Quit talking and let us eat!  I'm SOOOOO hungry!" 

Then (Many years later) I was married and creating my own Thanksgiving feast.  It was just my husband and our precious little 2 month old daughter.  I adored the realization that I was now part of my own family circle.  A family that I was a part of creating.  We did go to extended family celebrations but not on THE day of.  Gratitude became not just a once a year thing, or especially not a mindless listening.  Thanksgiving became just what it was intended to be, a platform of gracious gratitude.  My heart was filled with that emotion even more than my digestive system was filled with all that luscious food!

This will be the second Thanksgiving that we have celebrated without Nyle my beloved hubby of 27 years.  I thought it would get easier as time went by.  Maybe it will in 10 years or 20.  Right now?  There is absolutely nothing even remotely close to easy about it!  Indeed this second year has seemed harder as the reality becomes more intense that he is NEVER coming back to us.  We, in this life, will NEVER see the man who was my sweetheart, and the adoring Papa of our daughters.

I couldn't bear for Nyle to be gone longer than two nights in our entire married life.  In 1 years and 11 months of his absence it is LONG past two nights!  I have always preached to others going through this exquisite type of grief that they would make it through.  There would come a time when the absence didn't occupy your every waking moment.  Now I feel like I was lying to them.

Yet I DO KNOW that Nyle would wish us (his family) to remember him with laughter.  He loved to celebrate, and that is how he wishes us to remember him, in celebration.  So we will reach out, love, and rejoice that we have so many joyous memories of Nyle.  If some tears are shed along the way that is also OK.  Today emotions are accepted.  We can give thanks, thanks for the 27 years of love and living we were blessed to experience with Nyle, Neto, Bingo, Nagoo Nayou, Nyle the Pile, and I won't even begin to list the acting roles he played that he was called from time to time.

SALUTE my darling, and please know that with our Thanksgiving we give thanks for YOU!  We didn't get to keep you long enough, but really when you love somebody so much, FOREVER will not be long enough!

Heart Hit

"Retard," was the weapon of choice.  It was a direct heart hit.  It wasn't, for once, ME that was the recipient of this angry hatefulness.  This young man had the misfortune of living in a time when unique was called something else, something lethal in a child's world, DIFFERENT!  DIFFERENT must be written just like this.  It has to have capital's because DIFFERENT was something that you heard shouted at your tender child's psyche.  It passed any boundaries or safeguard that you worked to install over that place.  Another heart hit.

I had been DIFFERENT now for four years of school.  I mean, let's face it, I WAS different.  I lived with a chronic illness.  I had spent many, many hours in my bed, and my fantasy world.  My best friends were all 70 years of age, and older.  They understood the health issues that framed my daily life.  The children my age...how could they know what it was like to awaken in the night gasping for air on a regular basis.  Could they know what a childhood was like with oxygen tents and ER visits in the night for oxygen?  Really, how could they fathom what it was like for a 6 year old to live on slippery slope that could quickly slide to death.

I wanted to help the young child.  I wanted to stand with him, for him.  Instead I realized that while he was the target the cruel children ignored me.

Ignored felt much better than being cornered on the way home from school by two boys.  They actually planned on beating me up.  I barely even knew these boys.  I was saved by the brave actions of a young man who had a crush on my foster sister.  He was Native American, Indian is what we called them in the 1960's.  The Cowboy's two to one Indian ran before his ferocity.  I didn't care that his motivation was to get in the good grace's of Charlene.  I just knew that I had reprieve!

Ignored kept heart hits from being mine.  Ignored meant that I could live most of the time in the fantasy world that always lived inside my head.  I carefully constructed this fantasy to keep the actual world I lived in and all the trauma and drama at bay.  I CONTROLLED my fantasy world.  I allowed no mean kids.

The taunting grew worse.  Emerson was now constantly barraged by cruelty.  Some of the kids devised the cruelest torture of all.  They would act as though they liked him.  They would include him in their recess play.  When he started to relax and feel safe the camouflaged weapons of pain came back out.

Emerson would be diagnosed today as, Asperger's or some form of Autism.  The label used in that time that covered any and all mental manifestations...a simple word RETARD.  Retard is what you were called if you acted DIFFERENT.  It didn't usually mean that your brain was any special kind of DIFFERENT.

I spent an entire school year thinking that I had to actually be RETARDED.  What would your child think if they heard that label used over, over, over, over, over, over, over, over, each and every single day, five days a week?  Unless you had the armored hide of an armadillo those strikes would wound deeply.  

That label was not directed to me when Emerson was in our school.  I was safe because there was a new target.  The taunting got so vicious that if you were different you were called an EMERSON.  I saw the affect that this constant viciousness was having on Emerson.  He really was a sweet, sensitive kid.  I did NOTHING to stop the bullies.  Really what COULD I do?  I was already powerless.  If I stood up for Emerson he would not thank me.  (At our age the opposite gender still suffered from a severe and positive case of COOTIE'S).  If I stood up for Emerson I would again BE the target instead of Emerson.  I DID NOTHING.  I stood by and watched Emerson go from a sweet, sensitive kid to a wounded huddling creature.

I have since watched nature shows when you see a predator attack another creature as prey.  I have NEVER watched that scenario on purpose.  I will be watching a show about a Mom Tiger with her pride of cubs.  Cute gamboling cubs learning about the world they are born to.  Tender, fluffy and fun the cubs tease each other and playfully wrestle together.  Then SNAP...some predator sees the babes at play...slightly too far from Mama Tiger and the scene of fluffy and fun turns into mayhem and murder.

Seeing that scene always reminds me of what we did to Emerson.  I say, "WE," because even though I never hit him, or taunted him, I also did absolutely nothing to protect him, or to have him as a friend.  At almost sixty I know that doing nothing to stop pain and violence is pretty much the same as perpetrating it.

Emerson's parents took him out of school at the end of that year.  I have prayed since that he was able to get hope and help.

Unfortunately, the minute that Emerson left our school, I was once again the primary target of the hunters in my class.  That's how I still think of them, hunting stealthily...eyeing their prey (me), and then SNAP...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It's November 26th, and you have set a goal to have three books published by the end of 2013.  You finally are able to get a word processing program for your computer, but find the help menu to be well, less than helpful.  I think if you were a computer wonder like my honey was you could make it work.  Simply put...don't have those skills.

What do you do when frustration and impatience threaten to turn your day to gray?  What is the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back in your life.  You know, a camel with a heavy, heavier, heaviest load that finally goes sprawling from one last tiny straw.

I feel as though I'm quite capable of handling the enormous challenges that I'm often handed by life.  I can cope with, face, and handle effectively the very worst that life can give.  Then it's the tiniest thing that pushes me over the edge.  Clean clothes that slide out of my hands to a dirty floor.  My cat's trying to kill each other at night...on top of me!  Trying to publish 3 novels in one year and having every single type of clerical challenge imaginable. 

So back to my question.  How do we cope with not the great big life hardships (death, financial ruin, divorce, child's disability, spouse's disability, etc. etc.) but with things like dropping and breaking a dish that belong to great-granny.  Struggling with a Word Processing program that is NOT user friendly to a 57 year old lady who quit using computers professionally in 1993.

These are my go-to's.  I read something uplifting to my spirit.  I pray.  I focus on my blessings, and remind myself of what they are.  I watch something that makes me laugh...deeply from my belly.  I read a good book.  For me that's one that includes romance, and possibly mystery.  I visit friends or family.

The hardest coping strategy for me is probably to just sit still.  That's right, not moving, not pulling my thoughts into alignment.  Allowing my thoughts to drift, backward, forward, sideways, and seeing where those thoughts will take me.

Writing a blog post is another way that gives me strength.  Venting, talking about the current frustration of my life, suddenly things seem more clear, and I can chuckle a bit at myself (the type of laugh that reminds you that we all are human and make mistakes) and then move forward again.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Accountability, Duty

It was a difficult job for me.  Financial work was definitely not my area of strength.  Everyday I would think to myself, "How on earth did a people person like myself windup Executive Secretary of FINANCE?"  I made many mistakes as I learned what the duties of my job were.  In my little office I would close the door and pray for help many times a day.  Stubbornly my mind kept eschewing the ideas.

One day I made a foolish mistake.  It wasn't something that caused any repercussions for my employers.  I could have made excuses (and there were valid reasons for my mistake). I explained the situation to my husband and asked him what I should do.  His response was excellent and I still use the advice  now, 25 years later.  "Don't make excuses.  Say, I'm sorry that I made this mistake. I corrected my error quickly and it will not happen again."

I was so afraid that I would be fired.  I was still in probation time.  I couldn't afford to lose that job.  My job got us health insurance, AND paid for Nyle's tuition to Law School.  At $15,000.00 a year that was nothing to take for granted.

Literally shaking I entered my bosse's office.  I sat down (so I didn't fall down) and explained the mistake.  I then apologized, and affirmed that it would not happen again.  I was so afraid to hear his response that I looked down at the floor.

"I appreciate your honesty.  Please be a little more careful." 

That was it?  The reaction that I had given so much energy towards?  Then I started shaking for a new reason.  It's called relief.

How many times in life do we have the opportunity of facing our accountability.  It's an opportunity that can lead us to better behavior.  It also helps if you recognize that EVERYONE has made mistakes in their lives.  Even your boss has made mistakes.

Shakespeare said, "To err is human, to forgive is divine."  How about when you are on the divine side of forgiveness.  Do you hold grudges?  Or do you make a conscious choice to forgive, and let the mistakes of others slide away into the past?

In the Bible there is a story about a man who can not pay a debt that he is owing.  He goes to his creditor and begs for more time to pay back the debt.  The creditor is a gentle, kind man.  He generously agrees to give the debtor more time.

Then the debtor finds himself in the position of creditor.  One of his employees who has borrowed money from him asks for an extension on his loan.  The debtor now turned creditor refuses to give the man more time. 

Hearing of this action the original creditor calls the debtor in to his office.  He explains that he has heard of his foolish and unforgiving action.  He explains that since the man will not give his employee an extension and forgiveness he will now follow the debtors actions.  He is calling the loan due.  If the man can't pay the loan now he will seize the man's possessions.

How often does that principle apply in your life?  Are you ever forgiven from a mistake only to then turn around and judge or criticize someone for making the same mistake that you just made?

Do you face your mistakes with accountability and awareness of the duties of your life then turn around and judge others harshly?  "Judge not that ye be not judged, is a principle from the Bible. I find that it is a valid principle in any walk of life.

A friend who had a very controlling, miserable Father said to his Dad one day, "You know Dad it must be very nice to be you.  You NEVER make any mistakes.  It's always someone else's mistake...never yours."  I fear that the Father in this situation simply did not understand what his son was saying.  Accountability and duty were not words or actions that he used.

Take stock of your life.  Do you feel comfortable with the level of accountability and duty you exercise in your own life?  If not what do you plan to do about it?  

Wendell's Honor and Duty

When my Dad came home from serving a full-time LDS mission (he and his family paid for that mission.  Dad received no recompense for his service in the Southern United States.  He did not just teach people the principles of his Christian faith.  He put faith into action, serving others, many who did not share his religious convictions. World War II was raging.  Dad did NOT agree with the concept of war. He was a true pacifist...not afraid to do his duty to God and country, but well aware of the absurdity of traveling to a foreign land for the purpose of shooting total strangers.

On his mission he taught Christian principles of love, faith, duty, and honor...these types of positive ideals.  Now Papa was faced with the choice of waiting to be enlisted (Mandatory for men of his age and robust health) or he could sign up hoping to choose his type of service.  He chose to sign up.

Originally he was assigned to the "Flying coffins."  Those were the glider planes.  They were called that for a very significant reason.  The casualty rate of soldiers involved in glider service was abysmal.  Papa had a lovely fiance waiting at home for him.  He planned to return home to her alive!

He was a paratrooper (jumped out of planes), and an infantryman.  Not really the type of service to guarantee a homeward track but better than gliders!  He wrote home to his beloved parents after his first day of war.  He said, "Well I've now been involved in conflict.  It's terrible.  I lived.  Now I'm going to change the subject."

Duty, and honor were not some vague abstract ideas to my Father.  A pacifist in the trenches, Papa let duty guide his choices.  He didn't speak to me much of that period of his life.  He was very protective of the women (mother, sisters, daughters, wife) in his life.  He did not want them scarred with the images that tortured him for the rest of his life.

One story that he shared I loved.  There was a break in the battle action.  He decided to go for a short stroll.  (The Phillipine countryside was lovely.  Except for the wounds of war.)

As he began to walk across a bridge a young man about his age started up the bridge from the other side.  They caught sight of each other at the same time.  Papa and the Japanese man were supposed to be enemies.  They locked eyes, each wary of the other.  Papa said it was like both of them felt like it would be ridiculous for them,  two strangers to hurt each other...they both ran down the way they came.

Some might see that action as cowardice.  I see it as the brightest of courage.  Papa used to pray that he would never see anyone that he had wounded or killed.  It takes great courage to see a man who is supposed to be your enemy, and then let him live.

Papa told of one member of his platoon that delighted in the killing and bloodshed.  He took pictures of all his "kills," as he ascribed them.  He proudly showed the photos to all and any.  Papa tried not to look at them. One small glance was enough.  The soldier had pictures of women and children that he had killed proudly.  They might have been "Jap Sympathizer's" was his reasoning.

What a contrast in approaches to war.  One man delighted in the blood and killing.  The other man was only there because of his deepest respect of duty and honor. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor which was a part of Dad's country.  He was there in the Phillipine's to keep war from reaching his home shores.  To my Papa there were clear reasons for war.  To protect home, country, and to fight to protect his right for religious freedom.  Those were the reasons and the ONLY reasons to fight in a war.

Papa was very proud of his patriotic service.  He didn't vocalize much about that pride, or the honor and duty that took him to that war.  Yet when the 4th of July parade marched past he would get a tear or two in his eyes as the flag went past.  Proudly he would put his hand over his heart.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Writing Interview

I went to a Christmas boutique with our girls, and our niece.  As we were traveling through I met a lovely woman.  She is a writer, and has a publishing company as well.  She told me that on her blog she interviews writers to give them more of a forum for marketing their books.
You can read this interview at ariverofstones.com  I had lots of fun with the interview.

By the way my pen name is Vivian Varlowe in case anyone knows me by another name.  This was the name my Mama had chosen as a child to be a published author with.  She is an excellent writer.  I was grateful when she gave me permission to use her pseudonym.

Thanks to any and all that have contributed to my work by giving me support in my endeavors.  Thanks to my beloved cousin that convinced me that I had talent and needed to share it.  Thanks to my darling daughters who have spent most of their lives hearing me speak about what I wished to write.  Thanks to my parents who were both terrific writers, and my Mom for working with me, and reading to me tirelessly.

Thanks to my beloved honey.  He never read any of my books all the way through.  (He was struggling with eye issues that made reading anything longer than a couple of pages problematic).  I read some of my work to him and he told me, "You are a good writer CJ.  Finish a book.  How many people can say they have written a book?"  Coming from Nyle...I felt like my writing could fly.  He was an amazing writer.  I would easily put his writing alongside such greats as C.S. Lewis,  Norman Vincent Peale, and the author of Lord of the Rings (which for some reason I can not think of his name right now).  Seriously Nyle was the best writer that I ever read.  I fell in love with his writing before I fell in love with him.  (I met him as an independent contractor typing his manuscript and other items).  He worked for a film company.

I was typing a screenplay for him.  It was medieval fantasy.  In the writing of those pages I fell in love.  I seriously thought, "If he can write this rhythmic, poetic form of writing I want to know more about him.  We only had 5 official dates, and he proposed.  It was crazy, crazy, but I'm so very, very grateful for the 27 years of love and learning we shared!

So again, thanks...and please read my interview and give me comments!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Robert Louis Stevenson and I

The Swing, by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!

As a small asthmatic child often confined to my bed my beloved Mama would patiently, lovingly read to me by the hour.  There was virtually no daytime television for children then.  (No, I am NOT older than dinosaurs...OK...maybe some of the younger dinosaurs!)

Mama did her best to help me focus on the bright parts of life, and learn from the hard parts of life.  The day that Mama introduced me to Robert Louis, changed my life forever. 

I remember that amazing morning.  We were snuggling in my small bed.  Mama held a large volume that contained multiple childlike stories, and lots of delightful poetry.  Mama read the above poem to me.  She then closed her book and sat quietly for just a moment.

Then she said, "Caroljoy, did you know that the man who wrote that poem started his life just like you?  He was asthmatic, had a very poor immune system and was stuck for long periods of time in bed, just looking out the window.  He looked out the window wishing that he could get up, get dressed, and just plain live."

"Really?" I replied with wide open eyes. 

"Yes," my wise Mama said.  She continued, "He wrote books and poetry lying in bed, just like you have to do lots of the time.  There weren't any oxygen tanks for him when the asthma was so bad that he could not breathe.

I stopped and wheezed in and out.  "Do you think it scared him sometimes Mama?  You know when no matter how hard you try the oxygen just won't come in?"

My Mom looked down at my small self.  My lips were just the tiniest touch of blue.

I was laboring just to get air.  When I became an adult she shared with me how the doctors told her and Papa that I couldn't live, I was too allergic, too immune compromised.  Yet she and my Papa as a team continuously worked to help me look forward to a future.  They helped me to find ways and means to be a contributing human being...contributing towards making the planet a better place.  Even though at times I do that work from a recliner, or bed. 

Robert Louis said (I'm paraphrasing), I have written in the throes of fever, in the midst of coughing spells so extreme that I had a hard time focusing on the paper.

Mama said, "Mr. Stevenson wrote lots of books.  I am certain that as he lay in bed he would make up different worlds, he would travel places in his mind.  No doubt his parents, and other family members gave him lots of books so that he could explore, grow, and use his mind when his body did not work properly."

This concept rushed into my small brain.  "Mama, could I write poetry, novels?  I have a good imagination.  If I wrote books what would that be like?"

That is how it started.  I would lie in bed and create worlds.  I would even think of the interaction of my characters and speak out loud as one or the other of those characters.  The time became more friendly, while I focused less on my struggles to breathe.  The distraction actually helped me to calm which usually made my asthma a tiny touch better.

I owe you a grand debt Mr. Stevenson.  I hate that you had to suffer from this rotten malady.  Yet somehow you wrote a book about a tropical island, "Treasure Island," and at that point you had never seen a tropical island!  Yet your description was so real that I could hear the waves, see the water in vivid shades of blue and green.

You, Mr. Stevenson, helped me to gain a vision that life was not all about my miserable health.  You helped me learn my letters, and then find creative ways to make the letters and words sing,, dance, and distract. 

Of course, my Mama and Papa had a little bit to do with it as well.  (Gentle smile)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


As a tiny new born baby I was so severely allergic, and asthmatic that my parents were told that I should NEVER be laid down in a crib.  The good doctor swaddled me in a thin receiving blanket and I started to wheeze as I struggled to get out of the blanket.  (Maybe not such a wise demonstration on his part?  Can you say malpractice?) 

Have you ever held a baby for twelve hours or more a day?  It wasn't very long before both of my parents were absolutely exhausted and close to collapse.  Papa worked a full-time job.  I had a brother and sister, both of them also needed love and attention.  Then there were meals to cook, church volunteering to do....on and on and on.

Our church group heard about the situation.  Soon there were volunteers coming in some days around the clock to hold me.  I literally was passed from one person to the next.  My Mama has told me all of my life, "It was such a rich blessing that you were not afraid of being passed from person to person with strangers."

You see this brings up another point, I simply was not allowed to cry.  In that time 1956 the only treatments for asthma was oxygen, hospitalization (sterile environment), and cupping.  What is cupping?  Cupping involves cupping your hands and then pounding on someone's back.  YUP...in some of my most severe times of asthma they would "cup," me in this manner multiple times a day.  It HURTS!  Ask a loved one to try it on your back.  You will soon understand what I'm talking about.  This cupping motion helps to break up the all too thick mucus that asthmatics have.  (Sorry for not warning the medically faint of heart).  Of course I could not cry!  That almost every time proceeded a terrible attack, and a trip to the hospital.

Mom and Dad were told to prepare for the worst.  The good doctors that they took me to concurred that I would not live for very long.  I actually remember medical professionals around my hospital bed whispering, "This child will die young."

How does all of this tie in the subject of "Boundaries and Borders" you ask?  I'll tell you.  Spending that incredibly formative time in my life (birth to almost 2 years)  gave me the sense that there is no such thing as "Stranger Danger."  Add to that experience my naturally trusting disposition and you have a human that doesn't always recognize the importance of discretion.  One friend lovingly told me, "You are a very open person.  Since you are so open it naturally invites others to be open as well."  Thanks friend for that compliment.

The problems started when I married a delightful, brilliant, RESERVED man.  I would talk to people not only about my life, and blessings and problems, but somehow in my bounderless mind his stuff was mine to share as well.  (We were married, right)?  WRONG!  I had to learn, sometimes the hard way to keep my vocalizations silent when it came to my husband.  His stuff was NOT mine to share.  There were very rare exceptions.  When we went through health crisis after health crisis with my darling I had to have support.  Fortunately I had many, many loving friends who gave me love and support, and DID NOT SHARE any of what I told them!

I had to go to counseling before I began to solidify in my mind the concept of respect for others boundaries.  Now don't be confused.  I did not go through life gossiping about anything I was told by friends.  No, I reserved that too open sharing for my husband. 

I try now to be more mindful of the concept of boundaries.  Yet, I still am extremely vocal about my life.  "Sit down, I'll tell you all about my entire life in 5 minutes or less!" 

Now is a new version of challenge.  Nyle has passed away.  His entire life was a lesson in enduring well.  I want to share his life with others so that they can be inspired (as I am) with Nyle's wisdom, gift of laughter, his giant mind, and heart.  He'll forgive me, right? 

Boundaries exist for a reason.  In the world they define counties, states, and countries.  They even may define your yard (I'm looking at the chain link fence outside my Hillside Home as I type this."  Do they exist to shut people out?  Or do they exist to define?   Many, MANY wars have been fought over where boundaries of land lie.  So boundaries can define, protect, but can they also limit?

What if your personal sense of boundaries is so profound that you can't let any other human being into your heart, mind, and life?  Can boundaries restrict?  You bet your bippy baby!  (For those who had the misfortune of being born beyond the 1960's a bippy is a mystical thing that Goldie Hawn (mom to Kate Hudson), spoke about in the comedy Laugh-In).

Boundaries can be the basis for many unhealthy mental issues, things like Agoraphobia (fear of going outside your habitat), Claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces...especially when others are confined with you in that tight space), or Arachnaphobia (fear of spiders invading your boundaries...they should stick to their habitat which is anywhere outside of MY HOUSE!) 

Today, look at yourself.  Do you have healthy boundaries?  If you do NOT, do you wish to learn how to change that?  Are there others that do not respect your boundaries?  How do you express that dynamic and change it?  I challenge you to take just 10 minutes, a pen and some paper (or for those of you who MUST do ALL THINGS through technology) notes on your version of technology.  Write, do I respect the boundaries of others?  If not how do I change.  If yes, move on to this next question.  Are there others who do not respect MY boundaries?  How do I go about fixing that situation.  You can NEVER change another human being.  They must change themselves.  On the other hand if someone is not respecting your boundaries and will NOT respect your boundaries, shore up your courage and explain to them kindly but firmly that you need some space.  (You probably will have to define what "space" entails.  If they don't understand respecting boundaries they still will not understand the term "space."

Sometimes we need a professional counselor, or a well trained clergy to help us work through boundary issues.  There is NEVER any shame in getting education and assistance.  NONE OF US can make it through this life WELL without the help of others.  REACH OUT...this may be my most important statement in this long post, DON'T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE!  Change may be hard, it may pinch, pull, and stretch us further than we wish to pinch, pull or stretch.  Yet life is all about that...challenges to teach us and make us stronger.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Paper Back Writer

The Beatle's sang about their desire to write paperback novels.  I echo that desire.  Somehow being able to create a place, time, people, and then link it to history, places, time, and people makes me ever so happy! 

I am an Independent Writer.  That means that I am also my own Accountant, Publicist, Assistant, and Editor.  I sincerely do NOT want to perform any of these tasks...I merely wish to write, write, write! 

I have set myself a very steep goal this year.  I plan on self-publishing three novels.  THREE novels, and I only have two months left to achieve this goal.  YIKES!  I still have quite a way to go on all three books.

That means that as much as I adore blogging, I have to go from 3 or 4 posts a week to maybe one a week.  I'm certain that anyone reading this will not hold their heart sigh, then sob, "NO, NO, SHE CAN'T DO THIS TO US!"  hee hee  If anyone is doing that, thanks ever so much for your attention, but perhaps you need to find something IN ADDITION to reading my blogs in your life!  :)  Perhaps an adorable little dog or kitty?

Please do NOT think that I am denigrating any possible fan that might enjoy reading my work.  Quite the contrary.  I am grateful for each and anyone of you that find enjoyment in reading my writing.

So, I will end this blog with a totally unrelated section.  It is October.  Have you looked outside?  In front of me is a tree that seems to be leaning to the ground it is so laden with the action of Fall.  The lush vibrant leaves are glorious gold, to gracious green.  The lawn in the back looks as though it has been visited by King Midas with his magical golden touch.

Please get yourself some outdoor time today.  Breath the air so redolent with the seasonal change.  Look at the plethora of color that reaches out to you from each tree.  Listen to the crunch of dried leaves under your feet.  Make a hot cocoa, or a hot apple cider, and put your feet up.  Just be still for a moment or two and think of all the wonderful Autumn's that you have experienced...or the not so wonderful ones from the context of what they taught you.  Even if they only taught you to hold on harder when times are rough.

Thanks to each and everyone of you that reads what I write.  Please keep posted for release times of two more books from my series, Angela, Women of the Drifting Ranch, and Celeste, Women of the Drifting Anchor Ranch.  My series is not being written in any sort of chronological order right now.  Some day in the future I may number the books but probably not.  Each book is a stand alone novel.  However, if you read all of the novels it will give you a broader perspective of the place, time and people involved.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Big is the Foot in your Mouth?

I am pretty much certain that every human being who has ever lived has at some point put their foot squarely in their mouth.  That is a phrase that refers to saying something embarrassing.  So, if you looked back at your life what embarrassments have you suffered?

Of course, since this is my post I feel it appropriate to start with an embarrassing moment in MY life. (There have been far too many to put in a post on blogspot).   I was 7 or 8 years old.  My Grandpa and Grandma had come to visit us.  Grandpa gave me a chocolate to eat.  I was thrilled!  I was allergic to chocolate at that point in my life.  My mama caught me AFTER I had put the chocolate in my mouth and was rejoicing in that creamy rush of heaven.  Mama said, "No, spit it out!"  Now one would honestly assume that I would spit it out in my OWN hand.  Grandpa still had his hand out from giving me the chocolate and I spit it in his outstretched hand.  To my dying day I will see Grandpa's confused, and just plain grossed out, look.  I looked down and realized that I had done something horrifying.  Nobody said anything.  Grandpa just wiped his hand off with handkerchief and we moved on.  That moment is still framed in my mind.  Grandpa's look of horror, Mom's look of embarrasment, and my longing to have the earth open up and swallow me whole.

OK...Now it's your turn.  Don't think too long.  Just go with the first moment that hits your mind.  I appreciate your sharing.  Just think of it as "Cleansing your palate," (think of how cool it must have been to come up with that gourmet eating and cooking term) or in this case cleansing  your mind and heart.

There will be no judging, this is an attempt to help us all realize that we are NOT alone on this bumpy, rough edged path called life.  As usual thanks for your help!


I would love to get some participation in this little experiment.  I'm going to ask some questions, and I will be really excited to hear answers to these questions.  Keep it clean please.

1.  What is the first thing you do every morning after you wake up?

2.  Seasons, name your favorite one.  Tell us why it's your favorite season.

3.  Who is your Hero?  Who is your Shero?  You know, hero, SHEro.  (I will not use the term "heroine" who thought it was cool to give us a name that sounds just like a drug?)

4.  Why is that person your hero or shero?

5.  How much do you HATE stupid questionaires and why?  (Again, keep it civil please.)

6.  What is your favorite food?  Please describe WHY that food is your favorite.  (No you can't give an answer with TWO foods as your favorite.  You know favorite...something that is your....FAVORITE?  jk

7.  Would you rather watch the news, dance to Just Dance 2014, or catch up on the sports channel?  Or do something else (and please tell what that something else is).

8.  Last but definitely NOT least, what type of book tempts you to read...cries out, YOU MUST READ ME....NOW!

Thanks folks for your kindness in responding.  I'm always trying to listen and hear what kinds of things people want to read, listen to, or eat.  Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Finding Answers to Medical Questions

Today is a grand time to live for many, many reasons.  Just a few of them are:

1.  More knowledge about our bodies and the thousands of things that they need to do to produce health.

2.  Better medications and treatments for most diseases.

3.  Access to a plethora of information at the touch of a computer keystroke.

4.  Better ability to meet and greet beloved friends that otherwise tend to fall by the way side in the activities of life.

I want to rant today about the medical world.  Our oldest daughter was below average in size as a child.  She wasn't small, but slightly smaller than average in height, and weight.  Then the hormones began to kick in that turned her from child into woman.

It was startling when she began to gain large amounts of weight.  She was NOT eating any more than usual, and she was always a very active kid, loving dance, dance, dance!  Yet the pounds just kept creeping on.  I was not concerned at first thinking that it was simply a part of the heritage of her father's family.  They are mostly large boned Danish descended folks.

Soon it became apparent to me that something was wrong.  It simply did not make sense that she was gaining so much weight when nothing had changed.  She was just as active, and did not eat any more than usual.

So I took her to the family clinician.  I explained my concerns.  The good doctor (she really was a kind well educated woman) tested her thyroid gland.  Since it was normal that was the end of testing.  Here is where my rant begins.  So, they knew one thing that it WASN'T?  What WAS IT!  Why didn't they keep testing until they found the answer?

My concerns continued, and so did her weight gain.  At the age of 12 she attended a magnet program for the arts.  She danced 5 days a week for an hour each day.  When she came home she would ride her bike, or go for walks with her family.  Still the weight kept creeping on.

In her Senior year in high school she gained another 25 pounds, and now she was dancing an hour and 45 minutes 5 days a week.  At her age, dancing around 2 hours a day I could eat anything, ANYTHING and not gain an ounce.

I took her to the doctor many times from the time she was 10 to the time that she was 17 and off she went to college.  Again, we were told what it WASN'T, but not what it WAS!

She was 22 and in college when a doctor finally gave her a diagnosis.  One of the first symptoms of the disease was weight gain, and difficulty losing weight.  WHY, WHY, WHY, didn't one of the clinicians that we visited for so many years care enough to keep working or referring to other clinicians until we found the reason?! 

I do understand that sometimes there really isn't a clinical answer to some of the things our bodies do.  In this case it wasn't even that difficult to find a diagnosis, and treatment that has helped a bit.  It would have been ever so much better if the diagnosis had come earlier on BEFORE she gained the weight!

I was trying to balance the drive to get her proper diagnosis and treatment with the need to not turn her into a hypochondriac.  On the other hand I have learned NOT TO JUST SIT STILL AND IGNORE ACTUAL SYMPTOMS.  I don't wish to run to a clinic for every sneeze, and sniffle, but when there is a more serious issue going on...I will not stop until I get a medical answer.  It's never good to hear that you have a disease but if you already have the symptoms it's ever so affirming to find out the reason for them.

Another example.  I went to the ER because I was in so much pain that I kept passing out.  I was taking pain medication already for degenerative disc disease, and it didn't even touch this other pain.

So at the ER (which was far too busy), they took a couple of tests came back and said, "It isn't this, and it isn't that, so we are sending you home."  WHAT?  You still don't know what is wrong with me, but you're sending me home?

It took two more trips to the ER before I finally got the diagnosis.  I had an 8 millimeter kidney stone.  It had climbed down into my ureter (much too large to be in a tiny little kidney tube).  I could have died from the complications that can be caused by a blocked ureter.  In fact the stone could have actually caused the kidney tube to rupture which could easily have killed me. 

I know that Emergency Rooms are far too busy.  Their job is basically to keep you from bleeding to death, or dying of a heart attack.  Otherwise they just want you to get through the night and then go to your Primary Clinician.  What if your Primary Clinician just looks at the ER's NOT ANSWERS, and sends you home? 

I remember with affection the family doc of my youth.  He genuinely cared about his patients.  I had severe allergy asthma, and a compromised immune system.  Instead of just treating me with antibiotics when I had an acute case of bronchitis he searched and found a research program for asthma.  It was in England but somehow he found a way to get me included.  That medication changed my life.  I went from crappy health, and no ability to plan ahead in life (if I had an attack, or an infection I could not fulfill any plans that came during that time).  Now I could look ahead knowing that my asthma was under much better control!

He did NOT say, well there is nothing I can do.  I'm not certain what your problem is but I know it's NOT this, or that.  He hung on until he could find something truly helpful for me. 

Please, by the raise of hands let's see how many can say that.  Can say, "My clinician genuinely cares about my well being.  He or she will follow through any tests, or issues until a reasonable result is achieved. 

Now they advertise medication on television, and magazines.  So instead of going to the doctor and saying, "These are my symptoms doc," and expecting the good doc to test, and diagnose and then choose appropriate medication we go in and say, "I think that I have this, and I heard about this medication for that condition advertised that I would really like to try."  I would imagine that would easily frustrate any and all clinicians.

Next issue.  In my childhood and youth clinicians prescribed the medication that they felt best suited your condition, knowing of the history of any and all conditions.  Now every single clinician says, "Your insurance WILL cover this medication or WON'T cover this medication."  Medicine by insurance.  Do you go to the very best clinic or clinician you can find?  NOPE...you go to the clinician or clinic that accepts your insurance. 

Phew...I feel so much better having vented this rant into the cyber world.  I will now take a deep breathe.....IN 1,2,3,4,5....and OUT  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and release.  I let go of those frustrations.  It's a beautiful fall day, and I felt well enough to take my small doggy for a walk!  Thanks for letting me vent!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


So, if you are NOT an animal lover, specifically cats you may wish to skip this post.  On the other hand if you can see that love...as a power, as a positive force of change that connects us to other humans, or to animals, (in whatever form brings you love and joy whether it's rats, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, pot bellied pigs, dogs, cats, snakes, and etc.) there may be a common thread of love that can connect even those who do NOT enjoy animals as pets.

Katty was teeny, tiny, a young kitten, about 5 or 6 months old.  My Mama fed all the stray cats in the neighborhood.  She didn't invite the cats into her home but fed them twice a day on her back porch every day.

Katty was dying, it was obvious.  She couldn't stand up.  She dragged herself around the back porch to get water and food, and then just stayed on that concrete porch.  I was visiting Mama.  My Papa had passed away and she was trying to learn a "New normal."  I had our two beautiful daughters with me.

My husband was an animal rescuer.  Somehow they would ALWAYS find him, and he couldn't just let them go away, he had to care for them.  Fortunately, I also loved and still love animals...even if I'm allergic to them.  I refuse to let my body determine what I will and won't love in this life (except for guinea pigs, or other rodents.  I'm REALLY allergic to them, and I'm not crazy about them, so sorry any of you who love them).

Our daughters came to me with tears in their eyes.  Mommy, we'll give you our vacation money if you take the kitty to the vet."  This was money they had worked hard to earn over several months.  They had earned the money by doing household chores.  The money was supposed to be for them to buy whatever they wanted on our trip.

I could simply not turn down their loving offer and feel good about being a Mom.  So...we kenneled the little kitty, and took her off to the vet.  Kenneling a wild cat is usually a task that could cause death as an end result.  Feral cats are not fond of being picked up, let alone stuffed into a cage.  It was obvious how sick this kitten was.  She didn't offer any resistance to the whole procedure.

The vet explained that this little kitten had been in a terrible fight.  She had developed an abcess in her front right leg.  The abcess had spread infection into her entire tiny little body.  He gave me antibiotics in liquid form to administer to this tiny feline form.

I persuaded my Mom to let me keep the kitten in her bathroom.  So we made a bed for her out of a cardboard box and an old towel, and a litter box with a trash liner.  I couldn't leave her outside because after she started to feel better she'd take off.  I couldn't catch her to give the medicine then she'd wind up sick or sicker again.

The first night I had to use the restroom about 3 a.m.  This was the house where I had lived for years as a teenager.  I knew the rooms, furniture, everything was familiar.  It was a cozy, small, house and I did not want to wake up my Mom or our Daughters.  I walked into the bathroom in the dark, completely forgetting that there was a cat in there.  Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by the sound of intense, musical purring.  May I just explain that feral felines do NOT purr when around humans...EVER!  Every single human that used that restroom was greeted by the same amazing purr!

The other amazing thing is that she would let me give her the antibiotics with no resistance.  She would simply suck it down like it was something delicious.  She never scratched me, or bit me, not once.  Somehow it felt as though she knew that we were trying to help her.

We were flying home, and we couldn't afford to pay the fee to fly Katty home with us.  Fortunately, my sister came to visit the following week and brought Katty Kaliko (name given the kitty by our girls) with her.  Katty joined our family which included 4 human beings, and 2 cats.  She was never fond of other cats but she was immediately in love with my husband.

The one issue with Katty was inappropriate urination.  She could and often was an "emotional urinator."  The human part of our family went on a trip for 2 weeks at one point.  When we came home Katty jumped up on the bed.  Looking us straight in the face she urinated...right there...on our bed.  Oh the attitude came through so clearly, "Leave me for two weeks?  That's is NOT OK!"  We had someone coming in every other day, feeding, watering, and cleaning their litter box.  That was still not ok with Katty!

Katty usually sleeps close to my head.  When I awaken in the night, with a headache, or a bad dream, I reach over and scratch Katty.  This has been especially important since the death of my sweetheart husband.  Her purr is instantaneous, and there is a musical quality to the sound.  The only sound I've ever heard that comes close to Katty's miraculous purr was the Tribbles on Star Trek.  Honestly, if Tribble's were actual creatures I would think that Katty was born of a cat, Persian Mama, and a Tribble Father.

Katty is 16 now.  That is equivalent to about 80 to 90 years old for a human.  I fear she may have had a small stroke.  Her front end and her back end walk in different patterns.  She still gets herself up my high bed (I try to help her and she gets really mad at me), and up and down the stairs.  She still purrs like a Tribble whenever I pet her (she especially loves to have her chin scratched).

The point of this post is this.  Katty has been a whole lot of work for me.  I've fed, groomed, watered, and cleaned up after this tiny creature for 16 years.  (She weighs about 3 pounds, but since she's part Persian she looks bigger).  There have been times when I wanted to give her away....to anyone that would take her please!  Remember that whole inappropriate urination thing? That never went away, no matter what behavioral actions I took with her.

Yet, how do I decide...which is more important?  The joys of having Katty Kaliko, her beautiful purr and comfort in the night, against her needs as a vulnerable creature, feeding, cleaning, watering, cleaning the cat box, and cleaning up after her when she urinates in the wrong place.

In life at least in my life I have often run up against that idea...animals, peoples, or life experiences that had both the good AND the bad involved in them.  It's ever so different when it's a vulnerable creature that depends on you.  Having a dog or cat is pretty much like having a two year old that NEVER becomes an adult...and that in and of itself is both good and bad.

I always thought I'd be kind of relieved when Katty finally graduated to the next realm.  I mean Hello...did I mention that whole inappropriate urination thing?  Yet I find as she starts to slide into immortality that I'm more sad than relieved.  Katty gave me far more than I gave her.  Here's hoping that she does what she has done all of her fuzzy little life, and beats the odds.  She could live to 20...I hope!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Clinical Depression and Other "Mental" Illnesses

It may seem odd to write posts about mental health issues in a blog that is all about the positive side of life.  I guess I need to re-define why I write this blog and what I write about.  I DO discuss some of the negative issues of our world.  Yet, I approach them from the vantage point of, we CAN do something about them...we CAN join together and make this old world a better place to be!

I love so many things about our world today.  I adore that we are learning more and more about conditions that we have long called "mental health."  I believe that now we are more realistic in calling them physical health conditions, with mental manifestations.  Yes, that's right...clinical depression, schzoid disorder, anxiety disorder, so many, many other conditions are NOT something that is imaginary, or the result of a weak character or personality.  They are every bit as "physical" as Diabetes, Cancer, or Fibromyalgia.  We now know that sometimes the neurotransmitters for our brain become depleted, or damaged, usually after another type of physical illness or trauma either physical or emotional. 

So...you are diagnosed with Diabetes or some other medical condition after quantifiable testing.  You are given medication to counteract the effects of the disease on your body.  This has long been the pattern in America of medical treatment.   

In the case of mental manifestations the therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist talks and listens to the afflicted individual.  They do NOT use any type of quantifiable test for this diagnosis.  Usually there isn't even an x-ray of the brain to see if something has changed.  A brain tumor either malignant or benign can cause mental manifestations.  So, the good therapist prescribes certain medications with no quantifiable tests, merely according to his/her subjective results.  They use both medication and behavioral therapy to relieve the symptoms.  (Please do not misunderstand and think that I am negative towards mental health practitioners.  I believe that they do their job the best that they can with the model that has been around for the last century).

There is a clinician in the United States who is very different from the rest of the mental health world.  His name is Daniel Amen.  He is the first clinician to use a PET scan of the brain to help in the diagnosis of mental manifestation.  This is an ACTIVE scan of the brain.  Or rather a scan during the activity of the brain.  The other scans used for this type of diagnosis show the brain while inactive.

This PET scan shows actual areas that are not receiving the correct chemical compounds that are needed for your emotions to work normally.  He can detect areas that would cause Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, and other mental manifestations.  His contention is that you DO need a physical diagnosis before you begin to prescribe medication.  What a novel concept to think that there is a way to receive quantifiable, empirical evidence about the why's and wherefores of mental manifestation health issues.

I am ever so excited that huge new ideas are being developed to help those that face these awful experiences.  If someone in your world is facing these types of illnesses PLEASE, I beg you do not make the mistake of thinking it's "All in their head" or simply an imagine experience.  This experience is all too real.

If you think about it for a minute there are a lot of conditions that ARE all in your head.  Migraine headaches are NOT considered a manifestation of a weak personality.  Neither is a brain tumor.  Yet they are definitely in your head.  There ARE MANY conditions that technically are ALL IN YOUR HEAD.  A lot of the all in your head conditions actually begin somewhere else, your pancreas, your kidneys, your heart, all of these physical conditions can cause mental manifestations.

Now that we know that mental manifestations are very, very real let us never treat a person with these conditions in a less than, type of way.  Speaking from my own experience clinical depression is very, very real.  While you are battling this condition it narrows your life down from one breath to the next.  It doesn't matter if every circumstance in your life is terrific.  (Think Marilyn Monroe) It's not a circumstantial condition although it CAN be worsened by bad circumstances.

 I'm not referring to discouragement which is completely circumstance driven.  Discouragement is a temporary condition.  It is NOT the same thing as Clinicial Depression which again is a physical illness that causes mental manifestations.

What we CAN NOT DO is lose one more soul to suicide.  There seems to be almost a contagion to suicide.  It seems as though if one person in a group (college years, friends in a city, groupings of any type) kills themselves, there will be multiple suicides.

We need ALL OF US in this busy, crazy, wonderful, world.  We need to find ways to help those that languish in the sorrow and suffering of mental manifestation disorder.

The other very real thing is that again, often the mental manifestation is happening as a result of some physical illness, or trauma (either physical, or emotional).  So...if you are diagnosed with a physical disorder, do not be horrified or surprised if severe depression follows.  My doctor tried for years to convince me to take medicine for my clinical depression condition.  I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and fibromyalgia.  Depression just rode along on the coattails of those two conditions.  Twenty-three years later, I'm still here, I haven't killed myself, (although I did contemplate it multiple times as I learned how to face and live with clinical) thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

There IS hope!  "Feelings are not facts!"  You can find help.  It may take several tries to find the right clinician, the right kind of help, but please, oh please do NOT listen to the liar of mental manifestation that tells you your family, the world would be better off without you.  We need you!  Only you can make this world better by your contributions.

Are you a Superhero/shero?

Hero/Shero....I refuse to call women HEROINE...that is the name of a drug.  I mean, really he/she...so why not hero/shero.  I can't wait to write my own dictionary and start adding my favorite made up American words...lol  Move over Merriam Webster!

I saw on Facebook today my favorite nephew and my favorite niece (OK...I actually have about SIXTY-FIVE favorite nieces and nephews...and I haven't even STARTED counting my favorite GREAT nieces and nephews...and I even have one GREAT-GREAT NIECE, with another one soon to come.  YUP, each and every one of them are my favorites...in their own way.)  Well, phew, that was certainly a long aside!  lol  These particular nephew and niece (actually niece-in law if I'm going to be particular) posted a a profile picture of them in Superhero costumes.  May I just add that each of them in their very own ways ARE Superhero/sheroes!  My nephew is going to college to become a Counselor/Therapist.  He has an amazing gift to make people laugh, and to help them heal with laughter.  My niece, is the Mother of three brilliant, beautiful children (and I AM very objective).  she is a talented writer, and has great capability to love others.  Can you imagine the influence that those three children will have in this world?

So...I read a story about the builders of the grand cathedrals in Europe.  The names of all the workers are gone, lost to history.  The architects, the designers of grandness, we remember them.  Those that were "down in the trenches," day in, day out, some that even died in their work, their names are gone.  Yet each and every time someone visits, worships there, their work is noticed.

It is extremely easy to liken those unsung heroes (and their wives who would have preferred having them home a lot more) to the unsung heroes and sheroes in our day to day world.  The women who repeatedly go through pregnancy, labor, and birth, and then stick around to raise their children, helping them to grow up into decent human beings who make the world a better place. Or the women who work at a job, and then come home and try to cram a 24 hour job into the 12 that she isn't working. The other unsung heroes are the Papa's, the men who go to work every single day (in my Papa's case it was 25 years at a job he loathed, but it supported his family), and then come home and are the best husband's and Papa's they can be.

We hear far too much of the negative news in our world.  I would LOVE IT, if we heard, two stories a night about a "regular" family, and the things that they are accomplishing.  I have lived long enough now to have the perspective of understanding what a huge gift it is in our world when hard working good people just live life the best way that they know.  Why don't we hear more about that, and less about the murders, rapes, and crimes.  I would ADORE hearing a count daily of all the airplanes that DIDN'T crash!

So...this post is a tribute to all the unsung heroes, and sheroes, that go about their seemingly simple lives day to day...getting up, showering, going to work, feeding their kids, organizing all the myriad activities that our children need to participate in, carpooling, and taking care of those we love that are in our world, Mom's, Dad's, Aunt's, Uncles, etc. etc. and don't think for a minute about how wonderful they are.  There are ever so many "Cathedral Builders," in this world.  How I would LOVE to hear more about that, and less about negative news.  So, I intend to search out great stories...stories that make you feel warm inside, and happy to have read that story. 

When I do speak about my greatest concerns in our world, sexual slavery, and human trafficking, I will do my best to approach it from a positive vantage point of, we CAN do something about it.  It may be, simply watching over our children, to prevent them from harm.  It may be participating in a "Neighborhood Watch," program.  There are as many ways to help, as there are people with ideas.

I have an assignment for all that read this today.  I wish you to stand in front of the mirror and focus on your potential.  Forget about your weaknesses (they will still be there even if you DON'T place your focus on them), focus on your strengths.  Make this exercise as simple as, What one thing can I do today to make the world a better place?  An example is, Take a good book to somebody who is sick, with maybe something yummy for them to eat with it?  Visit someone whose health doesn't allow them to get out very often.  Here's a great one for all of us, do NOT say anything negative about one single soul today.  I find that when I am negative about others it's because I'm feeling rotten about myself, and somehow pulling others into my quicksand makes me feel marginally better, until I realize what I'm doing and feel awful!

Think about YOUR personal Hero or Shero...write them a note telling them WHY their contributions have touched your life.  There is ALWAYS good waiting to be done in this world.  Let's focus on that, OK?

THANKS, to all of my personal Sheroes and Heroes.  I have written stories about many of them, and I will keep writing and sharing their stories.


Monday, October 7, 2013


This small word, inspired, means many things to many people.  To me it means my beloved husband, Nyle Brent Smith.  When I met him I had no idea the struggles and juggles that he had already faced in his life.  He looked like your average, ordinary, every day giant, with your average, ordinary, every day handsome face, and your average, ordinary, every day blue, gray, green, purple, mood eyes.  (Our foreign exchange student called them magic eyes, and I would agree).

The first thing that drew me to Nyle was his unique sense of humor.  I also felt drawn to him because he laughed at my jokes.  I later learned that some of the laughter was "pity laughter," but I'll take what I can get, right?  lol (The lol is NOT pity laughing).

After we were married he decided to go back and get his Bachelor's Degree.  We were a great team.  I was one of the BYU Switchboard Supervisors and he got free tuition.  We worked together for that degree.  I would read to him from text books.  I would quiz him, type or proof his papers.  Yup, we were a great team.

Next he went to Law School.  Ordinary things to do, right?  Except for the extraordinary challenges that he faced in achieving these goals.  He had a colostomy, for those who have no idea what that means, it means that his colon ruptured, spewing poison throughout his abdomen and he almost died.  When he awakened it was to the knowledge that now his body expelled his feces through a hole in his side.  A hole awkwardly positioned just below his belt line.  This meant that he had no control over anything having to do with that part of the digestive system.  There was paste to hold the bag to his skin.  The paste often made his skin incredibly raw and sore.  On the other hand if the paste become saturated with perspiration it would collapse, and then he would have raw sewage everywhere to deal with.

That ONE challenge is enough, enough to change a life, and possible turn a person into a recluse.  Not Nyle.  He always thought creatively.  With his creativity he figured out ways and means to maintain his life as "normally" as possible.  Including dancing and performing on stage.

He didn't have very long to heal from the colostomy before the next blow to his health happened.  Going to visit a friend the apartment complex had let the sprinklers run so long that the water had flowed down concrete steps.  It was night, poor lighting, Nyle was in flip flops, and his leg skated out from under him causing him to land with his full weight on his left knee.  He described the sound as if a light bulb had shattered.  He had surgery to put his kneecap back together, and then he fell down another flight of stairs and they had to remove most of his kneecap.  This left the nerves in that knee exposed.  A light bump and he would be sent shuddering into excruciating pain.

Oh, did I mention excruciating pain?  In the middle of these two health challenges it was discovered that his spinal canal was malformed (birth defect).  His lower back was caving in on itself.  The sciatic nerve was pinched, and the nerves going into his legs were malformed as well.  If you have ever experienced sciatic nerve pain it feels as though lightning is periodically shooting through your lower back, into your hips, into your legs, into your feet.  When the pain got bad enough his legs would stop working.  There were many times that at the end of a college day his legs would give out.  So he would lie down on the ground and drag himself by the arms to his car.  When I queried, "Don't people offer to help?"  He said, "No, mostly they just give me odd pitying looks."

He was in a reclining wheelchair most of the time to keep him from falling when his legs gave out.  You can not push yourself in a reclining wheelchair so he had to walk around campus.  We didn't have enough money to purchase a motorized wheelchair (which he needed), or to get a van that had a ramp for him to be able to put his wheelchair in.  Yet he produced a movie from our home and in his wheelchair.  Even when he was attending college full-time he found jobs to help support our family.  He had his own graphic design business, he acted, sang, danced, and wrote.

Each time that he left his wheelchair to perform, walk, do anything physical he paid a high price.  Usually he would be in bed for as long as he could to recover.  He had to plan for that recovery time.  It was rough because often his needs for activity exceeded his bodies ability to perform.

One year after we were married it was discovered that he had diabetes.  We both grieved, felt picked on for awhile, and then worked through it and moved on.  Moving on involved adding testing his blood sugar before each meal and then administering an insulin injection according to his blood sugars, learning ways and means to help control his blood sugars through diet.  Exercise?  How do you exercise with all the problems with his back and left knee?  He bought a bicycle and rode it, in spite of the pain that caused.

One day he said to me, "My body is not working well but my mind is still sharp," (That was a huge understatement, Nyle was a genius), I need to find a way to support our family with my brain."  DRUMROLL....Nyle and I went to Law School.

This involved moving our two children, ourselves, three cats, and a household of furniture, etc. two states away to Portland, Oregon.  Fear, trepidation, concern?  I was one giant while knuckle.  We didn't even know if Nyle could get financial aid because his previous health crisis had left him in the hole for his educational loans.

Nyle told me that his motivation to go to Law School came from a quote he heard at school.  It was a class for young men and women studying business.  The speaker said, "If you have everything risk nothing.  If you have nothing risk everything."  Nyle and I were blessed to be a team, and to have our beautiful children.  As a bonus we had our adorable kitties!

I got a job and Nyle began Law School.  The stress of learning an entirely new way to reason, to write, and to study would cause his blood sugar to rise beyond high, and then randomly drop low, low, low.  We didn't know until years later that his uncontrolled pain was also hiking his blood sugar high.  He refused to take any type of pain medications because it dulled his great brain.

So far this post has been ridiculously grim.  I know there are those that read this that may think that I'm making this all up so that people will feel sorry for him, for me.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes our lives during that time could be extremely grim.  Nyle believed that circumstance should not control your ability to find happiness.  He believed that happiness was a conscious choice that sometimes had to be made multiple times a day.  "Happy not crappy," was his simple mantra.  Those three words meant that we all had the power to be happy, IN SPITE OF....whatever life throws in our path.

Nyle set the bar of how to live with challenge impossibly high.  While all of this medical stuff was happening we both worked, created two beautiful female human beings, and shared an eternal love.  We had friends, family, and goals that we moved towards even in the midst of so much drama and trauma.

A beloved friend said to Nyle one day, "I'm so inspired by you and how you face your health problems."  Nyle said, "Thanks.  I appreciate that, and please don't take this the wrong way, I would prefer that you were inspired by me for some other reason then because I have miserable health."

Just so you know Nyle we weren't inspired by your crappy health, we were inspired by you.  Not many students finish a Doctoral education while facing all of Nyle's challenges.  How many people do you know that make you laugh and enjoy life while they are in great quantities of physical pain.  No, it wasn't that we were inspired by your miserable health.  We ARE inspired by the greatness of your soul which was forever reaching up, up towards light, truth, and knowledge.  We ARE inspired by the warming love of your personality.  I miss you Nyle.  I hope that somebody reading this will take inspiration from our story to improve their lives.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tender Times

She is impossibly frail, her skin hangs loosely like soft laced patterns.  Her breathing is labored, her heart is racing and yet still she hangs on, she smiles as those she loves surround her.  She has faced almost 10 decades of living.  She has faced Worldwide Economic Disasters, a World War, and many family and personal tragedies, and she's come back with her smile strong.

Now, in the tender hours I listen for her breath as she once did for me.  A time or two I even put my finger under her nose to make certain that she still is breathing.  I try to sleep to the gentle life rhythm of breath.  Yet the knowledge that I make awaken to find her gentle spirit has flown keeps me awake.

How did the years pass that brought us to this place?  I simply could not have lived 57 years.  I look into her face and see so much of my life looking back.  I also see HER life lessons that have taught ME.  More importantly I see the heart and soul of this beloved woman that I call sometimes very simply Ma.

I want to shield her from pain, from sorrow, from struggle, as she has done for me all of my years.  With all of the protecting she has done for others it's amazing that she's filled with holes as a shield held before a warrior.

So many images remind me of her.  A Pioneer bravely marking a path for others to follow.  A Traveler coming to a river at the end of a day, stopping to build the bridge.  Not because HE will need it again, but because someone young is following.  It takes courage...faith...optimism...love to be the woman she is, and has been.

One of my favorite images fills my mind.  A school day, I rush down the stairs to hustle into my morning routine only to find my Mama dancing and singing to the radio.  Her joy at greeting the morning turns my grumpiness into smiles, and I head off into the unknown wilds of the teen years smiling, not realizing until years later the precious gift she had given me.

So bitter...so sweet to face the parting of your best fan club, someone who thinks you are beautiful (even when you are really not), someone who ALWAYS believes that you can, and somehow because of that you DO.

I love you Mama...thanks...thanks again...and please keep dancing in Heaven...all those Angels need a Smile!