Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Crazies or Reason for the Season

Ten Signs that you are infested with an attack of the Christmas Crazies

1.  You find that your tongue is dried beyond redemption from licking copious amounts of Christmas Card envelopes, and stamps.
2.  It is not merely a nice idea to send out Christmas is a necessity....even though you are working two jobs and have three little kids, a husband, a dog, and two kitties!
3.  The NEED of baking cookies to take to the entire neighborhood is constantly throbbing at the back of your mind.
4.  The tree is up, decorated, you've been the home room mother for every single one of your children's Christmas parties at school, and you wish that Christmas was over and your kids were back in school.
5.  Just as a stranger in a department store  reaches to grab a toy that your child is convinced they must have or simply DIE, you put your hand under hers and rip it away...then laugh in maniacal pleasure!
6.  You then engage in a wrestling match with the above mentioned lady to redeem that aforementioned item that your child will simply DIE if they don't find under the tree on Christmas morning!!!
7.  There is a Christmas party at church and you insist on taking pictures with Santa and ALL of your children.  Even Bess the thirteen month old that you KNOW will scream and cry in terror at the sight of a jolly old man in a red suit with white trim (how does he keep that white trim white going down all of those nasty dirty chimneys in the world)? MUST have her picture taken with him because after all this the picture will bring happy memories in years to come DARN IT!
8.  You pretend that you're asleep so that your husband will get up and comfort Bess (who is having night terrors about some strange man in a weird red suit)!
9.  You get up at midnight to go to a Christmas sale with toys that your children just HAVE TO HAVE OR THEY'LL DIE....and when you get home exhausted you discover that you saved 50 cents at the all important sale and now you only have two hours to sleep before your entire family will be up and want you to make breakfast!  (Let them eat granola bars....after all you were up all night for them, right)?
10.  The number TEN reason that you know that you're suffering from an attack of the Christmas Crazies.  Your family is sitting around the Christmas tree singing Christmas Carols and all that you can think of is, "When can I insist that we all go to bed?"

Now the reason for the season.  When my beloved Mama (94 years young) was a tiny child in the 1920s her Father taught her a lesson that stuck with her over the years.  Before they would go into the magical Christmas room where Santa had left gifts he would exclaim, "Christmas Gift."  My Mama knew that he was reminding his family of the reason that gifts are given at Christmas.  The original purpose of those gifts was to remind us that God our Heavenly Father gave the most precious of all gifts, he allowed his son Jesus Christ to be born into this world.  He knew the cruel suffering that his son would endure.  Yet God knew that it was necessary for Christ to come to earth to break the bonds of death for ALL of God's spirit children, that includes you and I.  Christ had made a choice using his own Agency to make this grand sacrifice.

So as the Christmas Crazies threaten to engulf you in their tight hold remind yourself, "Would the world stop spinning if I sent out JANUARY cards this year?  If I allow someone else to be room mother this year, would my children suffer irreparable harm that would lead to years of therapy? (Not so much, not really)"

Review your priorities often, maybe each morning before you start your day.  You may even find pockets of time that you can temporarily relinquish (like watching television or going on Facebook for four hours).  After all Christmas Crazies ARE temporary.  What is PERMANENT will be the precious memories that you make.  Memories like the beauty of lights that surprise and delight your soul as you drive through a normally dark and dreary neighborhood as you are going home from your work.  Remember the precious smile of your youngest watching Christmas lights and listening to Carolers sing.  The joy on your child's face as they see the wonders that Santa brought for them will make all your effort worth it!

Just so you understand, I'm writing this entry to remind MYSELF of what matters during this time.  There is a song by Sarah Bareilles that says, "All I am, all I need, is the air I would kill to breathe. Holds my life in his hands AND STILL I'M SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING..."  Nyle, my beloved husband of 27 years, I still miss with intensity breathing the air that we shared.  Nyle passed away in January of 2012.

Yet I know that he would insist that I continue "SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING!"  I will use the "Reason for the Season," to not give in to mindless sorrow and the deepest of anguish.  I will use the joyous Christmases we shared to keep me from the Christmas Crazies.

Oh I WILL grieve but it will not be the type of grief that drives me to desperation.  It will be tempered with the joyous knowledge that because of God's gift to all of mankind, I WILL see my beloved husband again!

Friday, November 14, 2014


When I was young nobody committed suicide.  If somebody actually did, well that was somebody else's problem and we certainly would NOT discuss it. I grew up with the phrase secure in my brain, "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all."  On the surface that seems like a charming, polite concept.  It was taken a great deal deeper in the society of the late 50's early 60's.  We did NOT discuss mental illness or similar things that we considered "not nice." 

Any type of mental difference was not understood.  People with these "mental" differences were often warehoused in enormous mental institutions.  That included people with sexual preferences that were different than the "norm."  So in these institutions were people with Schizophrenia, Clinical Depression, Autism, General Mental Retardation, Homosexuality, and sometimes people who were deaf and blind would land in there as well.

There was very little understanding of how our brains work.  Psychologists, and psychiatrists were using the mentally challenged as human guinea pigs...test animals.  Patients were often sedated and ignored as much as possible.

Some of the treatments were as follows: 

Aversion therapy:  This was used especially for those who had homosexual proclivities.  One of the many methods that were used involved showing slides of things that would stimulate the libido while giving the patient a severe, painful, electrical shock. 

Water Treatment:  Patients were put in very hot baths with a canvas top that had a hole for their heads to stick through. They were left in these tubs, sometimes for hours.  This was to calm agitated mental patients.

Electric Shock Therapy:  Patients would have electrodes attached to their heads.  Electrical currents were sent through these electrodes.  It is supposed to stimulate the production of chemicals our brain needs to feel content.  This can cause all types of horrid side effects.  It is still used today.

Lobotomy:  This was pretty much the last treatment if nothing else worked.  This one is totally egregious.  They open your skull and use a tool to pretty much stir up your brain.  It often completely destroys the personality of the person in the process.  The patients are MUCH less agitated because they are pretty much vegetables afterwards.

There was a very real stigma attached not only to having mental health issues, but the therapists who worked with them also were stigmatized in American Society.

I remember in my childhood hearing a whispered conversation about somebody that died at their own hand.  I don't think I had any idea at the time what that even meant.  Nobody spoke about panic attacks, or serious anxiety disorder.  My Mother told me that she had always been "High Strung."  That was the way to describe someone with a textbook case of ADHD.  The good news is that she had learned to use her fractured attention span to accomplish many, many tasks at virtually the same time. 

I just wrote a song that I feel very connected to.  I named it, "Shout it out."  The following are the lyrics,

When the world is dark and dreary and your skin don't fit just right
Shout it out from the rooftops, help will come to make life bright
Shout it out

Chorus:  Shout it out from the rooftops
Help will come to make life bright
Shout it out, depression is a liar
Says your death will make things right
Shout it out!

Verse 1:  Now just think of those who love you, see their faces when you're gone
The tears their hearts are crying
Show that they don't understand, how you could just leave them
A whole lifetime without you
Shout it out


Verse 2:  Your loved ones would do anything, ANYTHING at all
To keep you with them
Watching your children grow up tall
Your parents will never recover, they will miss you all their lives
How will you feel when from Heaven you can't help them as they strive
Shout it out

Repeat the Chorus twice at the end of the song

We can't just be silent anymore.  We need to shout it out!  We need to find ways and means to help those who face hideous decisions for their loved ones.  There ARE ways now that are effective to treat clinical depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia, and a plethora of other mental conditions.  We DO understand now that there are chemicals that we need to make our brains work properly.  The tools are out there!

Possibly one of the hardest parts of this discussion is the finances.  When my husband battled his brutal battle with clinical depression our insurance only paid the tiniest fraction of the cost for him to get any medical assistance.  We carried the incredibly heavy burden of the rest of the expenses.  There was a wonderful clinic that we wished to be able to participate in.  Insurance would pay none of the expenses so we simply could not access the necessary help.

Come on world, WAKE UP!  We lose valuable, wonderful people every day to suicide.  This ISN'T just a problem for the family, for those that were closest to them.  This is a societal problem.  Just like ripples in a pond when a rock is dropped in, the ripples spread outwards from such a tragedy.  First and foremost the spouse, children, and parents, siblings, and then further out.  Next line of ripples is the medical/mental health all the survivors need.  Then those they work with, their ability to take care of themselves financially, etc.  Ripples just keep spreading, and getting wider as they grow outwards.

Let's TALK about this subject.  Imagine the horror that an innocent child feels, or an adolescent when one of their friends commits suicide?  It's happening more and more.  We need to talk about it, give our children tools to cope with such horror, and we need to have tools to cope ourselves.

SHOUT IT OUT!  Don't sit in quiet corners and speak in whispers.  I'm not going to be quiet about it anymore.  It's NOT OK for us to lose anyone to suicide.  We need to find answers.  In the meantime let's do all we can to love others, and keep our eyes open for those that are struggling!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Laundry Aerobics, and Other Interesting Subjects

Laundry Aerobics?  My dear Grandma's had one day each and every week when they did the laundry.  It was an odious chore.  They had to wash the clothing, mostly by hand.  Some used a washboard.  You would use this board with rows of tin by scrubbing the clothing up and down.  It's not very surprising that clothes wore out quite quickly.  If these ladies of the 19th century were fortunate, they had a wringer.  This apparatus pulled clothing through two rolling cylinders.  Unfortunately, it was very easy to wind up with your finger, hand, or even arm being pulled through that wondrous wringer.

My dear Mama was the leader of our church women's group.  That is the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints.  It's the oldest continuing women's group in America.  She often received frantic calls for help.

This particular day the call was frantic because one of the ladies in our group had her entire arm pulled through the wringer up to her elbow.  She and her children could not get the machine to release her arm.  There was a very real danger because the pressure of the wringer was creating a very effective tourniquet.  The longer her arm was stuck the greater the chance that they would have to amputate.

I often wondered how my Mama seemed to be so calm and reassuring in crisis.  Many times in her life doctor's told her that she should be a nurse.  As a child she had held her sister so that the doctor could investigate a fractured skull.  Her Mother could not do this task, so my Mama did what had to be done.

Somehow she managed to release that arm from that wringer.  Then she took the lady to the doctor.  Her arm was badly bruised, and the soft tissue in the arm was damaged.  On the other hand the damage was something that time would heal.

Now back to laundry aerobics.  We live in a lovely home with two sets of stairs.  They are not long stairs, but there is two flights of them between our bedrooms and the laundry room.  I have often wished for a laundry chute that simply dumped the clothing into the basement room.

I live with my two beautiful, adult, daughters.  My Mother ADORED pretty clothing.  I also ADORE pretty clothing.  My Mother taught me to be a savvy shopper.  I almost never pay full price for anything!  With my love of clothes, I happen to have, well maybe, possibly, a LARGE amount of clothing.  My girls have inherited that love.  So we have LOTS of laundry!

I toss it all down one flight of stairs, and then push it down the other flight.  (It also cleans the stairs as it passes by them)!  I usually have music playing while I perform this task.  Dancing and singing makes the "Bead on a string with no knot on the end," type of chore almost enjoyable.

I do enjoy the process of washing, and drying clothing, courtesy of my wondrous modern machines.  I enjoy folding, but I do NOT enjoy putting the clothing away.

I made a delightful deal with our daughters when we moved in together.  I offered to do the laundry.  In return the girls shop and prepare the meals for us to eat.  It's a great deal for me.  I don't really love cooking, both of our girls do...especially our oldest girl.  I hear her humming, or singing along to a song while she chops, cooks, and plates our dinner.  Her love of cooking did NOT come from me!

What tasks do you enjoy?  One of my friends LOVED ironing.  I used to love ironing Nyle's shirts.  I put lots of spray starch in them.  My friend used a "spritzer," when she ironed.  The spritzer was made for ironing.  As she pressed her clothing the scent of lavender was released by the heat.  In this method she not only got clothes pressed, she had an aromatherapy session.

Does a "Spoonful of Sugar, Help the Medicine Go Down," for you?  Whoever wrote that song was quite brilliant.  I find that finding ways to make everyday tasks, things that become mindless, repetitive, tedious chores, bearable IS to symbolically add that spoonful of sugar!  Music is my main spoonful.  Another of my spoonfuls is communication with loved ones.  Washing the dishes (which is the household duty that I loathe) is almost doable as I chat on the phone.  If I can't reach anyone to chat with, I sing and dance.

If you see a red, spiky haired lady dancing about while she washes dishes or does laundry, do not be unduly alarmed.  It's just me, growing old lady, finding a spoonful of sugar to make my medicine go down better!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

No Clue Doctor?

For years (it felt like decades) I sought out doctor after doctor.  I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  I knew that I did have it.  However, Fibromyalgia rarely causes the extreme pain I was suffering from in my bones, and in my nerves.  Fibromonster (a little personal twist on the name), attacks SOFT tissue.  You know, little things like muscles, ligaments, and cartilege.

One theory on the syndrome (I was told it's NOT a disease.  To be a disease you have to elicit a definitive diagnosis of for example, Lupus).  Fibromonster is a COLLECTION of symptoms that leads the doctor to find the diagnosis.  If you care about that difference, disease/syndrome, potato, potaatoe, that's an important thing to note.  If you, like me, couldn't give a rip whether it's called a disease or a syndrome, it's just as miserable under either heading, you are, no doubt amongst the majority of those that suffer from the Fibromonster.

Talk about a blessing in disguise (a really, really GOOD disguise) it was the last two car accidents that I was in that FINALLY got me an MRI.  The MRI showed damage that the X-ray had NOT shown.  In other words I had damage in the soft tissue of my neck, middle back, and lower back.  The thing is, what were they x-raying?  The MRI showed damage to the bony vertebra in my back...lots and lots of damage.

One doctor actually said to me, "The Thoracic region of your back is the most stable part of your spine.  We rarely do MRI's for that area."  I wanted to say, "If you rarely do MRI's could it be that you are missing the damage?"  That was the case in my situation.

Now comes the truly egregious part.  I applied for disability with a private insurer that I had been paying to insure me for a long time.  They sent me to a doctor.  One that THEY PAID?  Can you say, "Conflict of interest?"  Not surprisingly the good doc said that I DIDN'T even have Fibromyalgia.  He said that I had Depression and Anxiety disorder.  I tried to explain that YES I did suffer with those two conditions.  However, I had never struggled with them UNTIL I HAD FIBROMYALGIA!

Even though I had FOUR, count them, FOUR independent clinicians that had diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, this arrogant, egotistical doctor being paid by the disability insurance company told the insurance company that I did NOT have Fibromyalgia.  I ONLY had Depression and Anxiety Disorder.

Now you may wonder, why diagnose me with anything at all.  Well they KNEW that I had all the challenges that I told them.  I had all the medical records to acknowledge the situation.  They figured that since Clinical Depression and Anxiety would be excluded after two years, they were safe.  Safe because most patients applying for Disability were simply too ill to fight with them.

Again I went the rounds with this estimable company.  I faxed all the clinician's diagnoses.  I went around and around with them so much that I got very, very dizzy!

Interestingly enough, even though they discontinued my insurance payments after two years, they never sent me another notice for payment due on my insurance policy.  I would receive notification from them every few months, "Premium waived."  Since by their own records I was no longer eligible for disability, why would they waive the premium?

The disability insurance moguls are quite canny.  They realize that most people too ill to work are also too ill to battle with them.  Many disabled simply give up after one attempt.

I believe I just heard somebody say, "But what about fradulent claims?"  When it comes to the Social Security type of disability there is fraud.  I don't believe there is quite as much fraud with private insurers.  The litmus test to disability should be, if you DON'T fight very hard.  The frauds fight long and hard.  They have enough health to fight.

I watched a TV program last night about different types of Scams.  It was absolutely creepy to watch the Private Investigators spying on those who claim disability.  They showed one man riding his bike around town.  This proved clearly that he is NOT disabled.  I take exception with their outside decision.  They have no idea if he just took pain medication.  It is especially necessary to find ways to exercise when you are disabled.  If you stop exercising you will be in even worse shape quickly.

On the other hand, the man who had his own construction business and was merrily roofing homes, stringing electrical wiring, and lifting sheet rock, THAT IS FRAUD!  If you can work 8 to 12 hours a day doing something that brings income to you, that is called employment, you know the type of thing that you CAN'T do because you are too medically impaired!

I knew a man in his 30's who had truly been injured working in construction.  After several months he went back to roofing, and general carpenter types of work for 10/12 hours a day.  Yet he still collected the taxpayers money.  I wanted to slap him and say, "HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU, spend money that we the tax paying people give!

The worst thing about this situation, the increasing fraud of Social Security Disability benefits, is that it makes it much harder for those who legitimately have paid Social Security for possibly decades to collect when they genuinely need it. (WOW, that was a very LONG sentence).  It was a very important run-on sentence.  Fraud from some means doubt for all.  There, I knew I could say it in a shorter sentence.

There is one extreme, the doctor who refuses to even do the diagnostics needed to gain a diagnosis, or the doctor who is paid by an insurance company to give the diagnosis that the insurance company wants.  The other extreme is the person who knowingly defrauds the Social Security Disability system.

We've come a long way from the television show, "Dr. Marcus Welby," or the show in the early 60's (time has taken the title of that show away from me).  It was starred with Richard Chamberlain and Ben Gazarra was his grumpy but kindly boss.  In these shows there was ALWAYS a diagnosis.  There was never a time when they said, "I'm sorry but I have no clue what is going on with you.  Since I can't figure it out it must be all in your head.  Good luck."

How about Dr. House?  As crazy, annoying, and socially impaired as he was, he enjoyed the hunt of finding out what WAS wrong with the patient.

We live in a time of medication by insurance.  Doctor's actually will prescribe a specific medication for you, even if they know that another medicine might actually be better for you.  They prescribe medicine that your insurance will pay for.

This dynamic of medicine by insurance also means that if a test or two is done to diagnose your condition and nothing is found they quit.  For example:  I went to the Emergency Room one very miserable night.  I was in excruciating pain.  Nothing was relieving it.  After two diagnostic tests the good doctor came back and said, "Well, it's not this, and it's not that.  So we're releasing you to go home."  Wait a minute?  You know it's NOT these two conditions.  What IS IT? 

Imagine my annoyance when several months later (after two more trips to the ER), an 8 millimeter kidney stone was found.  It was far too large to pass so it was necessary to have surgery to remove the stone.  At any time that stone could have caused my ureter to rupture.  How is it possible that I was never tested for a kidney stone during those other three ER visits?

The doctor of my youth was amazing.  When my asthma was incredibly severe he studied, did research, and found a clinical trial of a medicine that was in England.  Somehow or another he got me included in the trial.  That medicine changed my life.  I gained more stability in living when I didn't have to worry that at any moment I might have a major asthma attack.  He did NOT diagnose by insurance.  He pushed forward to find solutions to a problem.

One of my friends has struggled with diabetes for several decades.  She has now developed a condition where she can be speaking to someone standing up, and then just drop to the ground.  She also has spasms that ripple through her entire body.  One of the medications she was given (her insurance would pay for it) made her condition even worse.

She has been to multiple doctors.  They perform a test and say, "Well, it's not this or that.  Good luck.  One even had the temerity to tell her that it was a psychological condition.  Believe me she does NOT wish to have this health issue!  Nobody is giving her answers.  Nobody is sticking to the battle of diagnosis.  She is left to be her own advocate in a medical world ruled by insurance.

My Papa wrote an essay in 1952 for one of his college classes.  It was in regards to the huge divide in our medical system for the Haves and the Have Nots.  The point of his essay was that in our country there are two different systems of medicine.  For the Haves, the battle to find a diagnosis does not stop until it is found.  For the Have Nots, if a diagnostic test or two doesn't locate the problem, it simply must be psychosomatic.  Imagine, money being a qualifier for finding medical answers to ongoing physical problems?  If you have lots of money, or great insurance your doctor will keep searching until he finds answers about your health.  If the opposite is true, your condition will be labeled as psychosomatic?

If you are in this medical quandry, do NOT give up.  Keep searching.  At least we have access to all types of information.  Keep looking, believe in yourself.  DON'T GIVE UP!  DON'T EVER GIVE UP! 

I'm Grateful I Was Bullied!

If I were going to give a speech about bullying, (a subject which I have had way, way too much experience), I would start with the above title.  "I'm grateful I was bullied."  Say what?  That seems an odd thing to say, right?

Kindergarten in Pomona was no problem!  I had a five year old security guard who proudly said to my Mama, "Mrs. Cheney, when I grow up I'm going to marry Caroljoy!"  He rode a two wheel bicycle, WITH NO TRAINING WHEELS!  He had red hair, freckles, and blue eyes.  It was love!

Then came the move to Colton.  Now I was the new kid on the block.  It was a great big block.  I did NOT have that adorable Irish Catholic boy watching over me.

My teacher had not been given sensitivity training.  I had severe asthma and this was long before the huff and puffs that we now have for treating this condition.  If my asthma flared I had to sit still until it calmed.  Wouldn't exactly be a clarion call for activity, right?  If the attack worsened and my lips and fingernails turned blue we would travel rapidly to the hospital.  There I would receive life giving oxygen.

Knowing these facts did not seem to deter her.  One day I didn't feel very good.  I did NOT wish to go outside and play at recess.  My teacher insisted.  She told me I was a "Chicken," for not joining the jump rope group.  I'm certain that the years have changed that experience a bit in my mind.  I'd like to think that she was simply trying to help me "normalize" my life experience.  Normality was impossible for a kid like me who at any given moment could be seconds away from death.

Then there was the little boy who chased me most of the way home.  He didn't ask Mama to marry me.  He called me names and ran behind me.  Another terrific activity for a severe asthmatic.  It's not hard enough to be chased and called names, but then I would have an asthma flare?

Don't be alarmed.  I'm NOT going to list every single activity of harm, and bullying that occurred in my school years.  I would probably lose you at first grade.  I simply need to establish a 12 year pattern of abuse and bullying that started my scholastic experience and then continued all the way to the 12th grade.

I WAS a weird kid.  Having had so many near death experiences gave me a much more adult point of view.  I usually did not even feel comfortable associating with my peers.  The friends that I did have usually were also weird kids.  We were weird when it was NOT cool to be weird.  Looking back at the Salem "Witch" trials, it wasn't cool to be weird then either!

If I could do something about bullying I would educate.  I would take the bully to the bullied's home.  I would enforce a getting to know you period of one month.  During that month I would insist that the bully spend at least an hour each and every day of the week with the person they have been bullying.

Then I would insist the bullied person spend a month in the bully's home.  I truly believe that once this happened there would be much more understanding on the part of each person, and much less bullying.

Imagine if this were practiced in the whole wide world.  If our children were NOT taught to "Hate and Fear," as the Broadway musical South Pacific song laments.  How would this world be changed?  In the South Pacific song they are speaking about how children are taught prejudice.  "It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you've got to be carefully taught.  You've got to be taught before it's too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you've got to be carefully taught..."

Bullying usually happens because of insecurity.  If you feel sincerely good about yourself you do not wish to make anyone else feel less than.  Notice how many bullies are bigger than, and more popular than those that they bully.  It's rare that a bully takes on someone as big or popular as they are.  Bullies do their best to hide behind a facade of "I'm better than you are!"  If they can prove to their own ego that they ARE bigger and better it creates a temporary sense of importance.  Once they have conquered that person, they move on to the next, next, and still more of the next.

Education is the key to most things in life.  Now if it's possible to connect education to experience, wisdom would result.  Have the bully and the bullied spend a month together, at least for an hour a day, preferably more, and things WILL change.

I wish to end as I began.  I'm grateful that I was bullied.  The pain, insecurity, and just plain hatred that I faced during those 12 years taught me great lessons about empathy.  They taught me about courage, and true friendship.

It was ever so odd that when I went to college the past was gone.  Suddenly, I was popular, pretty, and even had some young men ask me on dates.  I'm still doing personal therapy, trying to heal the sub-conscious wounds of those 12 vital school years.  I'm 58 and I'm still battling those battles.

In my present I've been blessed with wonderful friends, friends who see me as unique instead of weird.  Every now and then a triggering event will  occur, (you know, something that connects you to the negative past), and then I work hard at smothering those bullying voices FORTY SOMETHING YEARS LATER.

Let's just STOP IT!  Stop the intolerance, the hating, the wounding.  Yes, I'm grateful for my hard years because they taught me so much about loving.  Would I want to repeat those experiences?  NEVER!

If just one child, one precious human being, could be spared the bullying experience it would be wonderful.  Think of the change in our planet if ALL the children could be spared the bullying experience!  That is a goal that I'm stretching towards.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Question me a Question

Are you aware that there is a choice of questions to ask in life?  Let me back up.  Life happens.  All of us will face tragedy at some point in our existence.  It is ever so natural in the face of tragedy to ask two questions.

1.  IF?  If my loved one recovers, if my child decides to quit taking drugs, if my spouse will quit cheating.  I will do this IF.
It is ever so natural to frame life in an IF framework.  After all if you put an IF question into the context of your crisis you won't be disappointed when your loved one does die, or your husband does leave you, right?
WRONG!  The question IF gives no room for hope.  Hope is an energy, a power.  ESPECIALLY IN CRISIS you need hope.  Ask WHEN instead.

2.  WHY?  Why did this happen?  Why didn't the drunk stay home instead of killing my two friends in his car.  Why didn't my child stick to the rehab program.  Why did my husband quit loving me and run into the arms of another woman?  Why did God allow this to happen?
Why?  This is an incredibly natural response.  On the other hand, "Why NOT?"  Do you have some colossal power within yourself that makes you immune to the trials and stresses of this life?  In case you haven't noticed by now, LIFE IS NOT FAIR!  Awful things do happen to wonderful people.  Sometimes the bad guy seems to thrive while the good guy gets hit over, and over, and over again by challenge.  Spending your life trying to make sense of that dynamic can drive you absolutely crazy, and will make everyone that knows you miserable!  Quit asking why!
Trust me, in my lifetime I have asked these two questions many, many times.  What I found out as I asked them was that they were questions that created negative energy!  They created negative energy when I needed positive energy desperately!

Let's investigate the possibility of asking two other questions instead.  These two simple questions can generate a powerful positive energy.
1.  WHEN instead of IF.  When my loved one recovers, when my spouse comes home, when my child begins to make healthier life choices, do you see how that is a powerful choice?
WHEN generates the idea that the end result WILL BE positive.  It is NOT more realistic to ask IF.  We create our own reality.  Everyday we are faced with choices.  Is it more realistic to choose the negative choice over the positive one?  Both are present before you why wouldn't you wish to choose positive?
2.  HOW instead of WHY.  How promotes a powerful positive energy as well.  It forces you to elaborate in your mind the steps that you will take to keep moving forward in life.  

In my church group one Sunday I heard a very powerful talk.  The young lady explained that her husband had abandoned her and their three small children.  He did not see a need to continue to help support their family.  That meant that the burden fell on her shoulders to support the family.  This was a very large problem because she had no job skills.

She explained as she continued this talk that for long anguishing hours she sobbed, "Why, why?  Why do I have to face this task.  Why?"

Then came her epiphany.  The WHY question pushed her further and further down into discouragement.  So she decided to quit asking THAT question.

Instead she changed the question to HOW.  With HOW in mind she planned, prayed, meditated, and found positive steps to help her and her children to heal from this tragedy.  She went back to school and found a suitable job skill.  The career that she chose gave her some flexibility of schedule as she raised her children.

She enlisted the love and support of her church group, family, and friends to aid her in this process.  Wise enough to realize that we are not intended to face all things alone in life she reached out to others.  At some point in our lives we will all need support.

Giving back to the community was very important to her.  She found ways to reach through service and to teach empathy and service to her children.

Right now, at this very moment, let's do some imagery.  You are going to take the IF and WHY questions and put them in a water proof bag with an enormous weight in the bottom.  (Those questions hold their very own pulling downwards weights).  You will watch those burdens sink, sink, sink, down to the very bottom of the ocean.

Now you will imagine yourself lightened.  The heavy load you've been carrying of IF and WHEN have been lifted from your shoulders.  Next let's imagine that when the questions of IF and WHEN try to invade your space again, you will simply return to your imagery, over, over, and over again as needed.  Example, "Why did I have to be born with Cerebral Palsy?"  There is NO answer to that question. There are all kinds of answers to the question HOW!  HOW do I face the challenge I've been given in life?  How do I get the assistance I need?  How do I live a positive energy filled life?

Another image.  Climb into your mind and take this ride with me.  You stand in the most beautiful place that you know.  I would be either at the ocean, or in the mountains.  I love both equally. In your hands are hundreds of helium balloons.  Each balloon says WHEN and HOW!  You are going to float up, up, up, up into the mystical magic of clouds.  These questions are going to lift you higher into a more positive way of living.  Again this image can be used over, and over, and over again as you need it.

This is NOT denial.  We are all firmly aware that there is negativity in this world.  There is also powerful positive energy.  It's mainly a matter of CHOOSING to focus on the positive and letting the negative slide away.  In other words you will choose how to use the WHEN and HOW questions to improve your life.

While you are gliding high, high, higher, highest attached solidly to your helium balloons you can feel joy filling you, surrounding you.  Enthusiasm for change will follow closely to this image.  A better way of living will lead you to understand that you are capable of changing.  Use this sorrow to create joy.  YES IT IS POSSIBLE!  Change those questions of IF and WHY to WHEN and HOW!

Friday, October 24, 2014

My very first book signing!

It took me 25, long, insecure years to finally get the courage to publish.  I just didn't think anyone would want to read my little books.  I couldn't even get my husband to read them!  To be fair he didn't read novels for the last 10 years of his life because of his many health challenges.  In addition, how many men do you know that want to read a book about gushy, mushy, romance? 

I had heard tales of authors claiming that their writing was driven by the voice of the characters they had created.  I thought that it was a charming idea, but let's face it, a little wacky.  AND THEN, Celeste.  I know very well that one of the first rules in writing is WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!  I work earnestly to fulfill this standard.  When your story is filled with the passionate joy of words arriving and then being spread across paper, those words need to be from your experience right?

So I begin to write Celeste.  Let's see, oh I think I'll make the character from France.  That's the idea!  Her Father has followed a long generational line of Master Vintner's.  In France his chance of ever becoming Master of his OWN vineyard is zero to none.  He wishes to travel with his family to the reputedly fertile fields of Oregon to develop his own line of wines.

The family immigrate by ship.  While on board all of Celeste's family die.  Innocent at 14 she barely can speak English.  When she arrives at her families destination she has nowhere and nobody that she knows.  She is trapped into sexual slavery.

For those who know me, does that sound like something from my life?  I can joyfully announce, NOPE!  I have never faced those types of challenges.  I pray that I never will.

I was so startled by the first several chapters that I wrote that I put them away.  I didn't want to think about any of that awful stuff.  I am a firmly avowed "Happy ever after," sort of writer.  (Yes I DO know that life doesn't always seem to follow that pattern.  That is just when you are looking at life as a finite set of parameters.  When you open your mind to the possibility of eternity I firmly believe there WILL BE a "Happy Ever After."  The book "Celeste", didn't even seem like it COULD have a "Happy ever after."

One week later I was watching a documentary with my husband.  (We loved watching them together).  I was stunned to find out that sexual slavery is at an all time high in our world today!  People are actually paid to troll the streets of America looking for unsupervised children that are easy prey.  HORRIFYING!

I don't believe in focusing on fear.  I prefer the practice of faith.  Yet it is ever so important that we are educated about the subject of human bondage and sexual slavery.  It simply is no longer wise to leave our unsupervised children in the front yard to play.  Either we must be with them, or they must be in the backyard.

Children are our future!  Where would be if Mozart did not mature into his music?  How about Einstein and his mind boggling discoveries.  None of us knows what untold greatness the children in this world possess.  I forgot to mention one of the greatest losses this world would have known.  My beloved parents.  They were humble, but they were powerful.  They spent their money and lives serving others.

It takes only one heart stopping, tragedy engendering, second to snatch a small child.  Please, watch over our children.  When I'm in a public place with children giggling and playing all over in front of me, I watch ever so carefully.  There will be nobody kidnapped when I'm around!

After watching that documentary I got my Celeste manuscript out and went back to writing.  I am now a believer that you can become so invested in a character that you feel as though they are writing the book.  Oh not some creepy "channeling" sort of way.  I do know that these people are fictional.   If I start to talk to you about these people as though they ARE alive, please stage an intervention and get me immediate help!

This book signing day has been an extremely long time in coming.  I never believed that it actually would.  (I'm working on that insecurity thing of mine).  So tomorrow I will be sitting in a comfy chair smiling brightly and hopefully signing many books.  What a thrill to have written two books.  I have a third novel coming out in the next several months.

My mind is filled with untold stories, and songs.  What a joy it is to create!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nyle's Mail I

My sweetie passed away on January 11, 2014.  It took us (his wife and two daughters) several months to have the desire to cancel subscriptions, and change bills into a different name.  The pain of going on in life WITHOUT NYLE is impossible to describe.  I came to understand the country song, "It only hurts once a day, everyday...all day long!"  My belief in the afterlife helped me to hang on through those brutal times.

Time has not taken away all of the pain.  Instead it has helped to dull the pain from searing, and sharp stabbing, to an ache that won't leave.  Yet I am happy to record that now life is more about the happy memories that he left behind.  Enough happy memories to last for the rest of my life.

We cancelled every subscription, etc. etc. that Nyle received in the mail.  The three of us split three different ways, one to finish college, one to an urban apartment and a new job, and me, to an apartment by myself.  We forwarded all of the familial mail three different directions.

Imagine how delighted I was when I still received mail for Nyle.  Advertisements for events arrived with his name.  The weirdest one was when we received "Cosmopolitan?"  He didn't read this magazine when he was alive but somehow they started sending it after he died?

Next all three of us moved together into a lovely home.  For a wonderful time we're together here in this place and space.  Again the mail was forwarded.  Imagine my surprise and delight when AGAIN Nyle's mail followed us.  To me it feels as though Nyle is finding ways to say, "I'm still here."  I'm watching over you.

I know that this idea would seem crazy to those who do not believe that there is an afterlife.  I honestly don't care if it's really Nyle arranging to have things sent to us in his name, or if it's my imagination creating that idea.  Either way the reminders of his love, his connection make my days and nights easier.

Nyle was a Producer working with movies and videos.  He was a novelist, having written two books.  Nyle was an amazing actor.  I used to tell him that at 50, with almost no hair left, and a full beard he could play the part of a blond woman who was 22 and it would be believable...that's how good he was.  In college he was nominated for a very prestigious regional acting award.  His wonderful singing voice sounded like Randy Newman combined with Joe Cocker.  He had soul and warmth, blended with a deep rasp.  AWESOME!

Then, presto chango, Nyle left his creative life behind and became an attorney.  He practiced Family Law for several years.  A nasty branch of the law that one.  He hated splitting families up!  Then he received the most wonderful job for him.  He became Associate Dean of Career Services at the Law School that he had graduated from.  He was also a professor teaching students how to write resumes and interview for jobs.  He still worked in the legal field doing lots of pro bono work (free) for those who couldn't pay.

After retirement we moved back to our roots, and again he became an actor.  He actually had people recognize him as he went about his life from the plays that he performed in.  He was that good!

With all of these remarkable accomplishments his favorite and most cherished accomplishment was our family.  He was most joyous when we were together, watching TV, singing around the piano, or playing games.  I completely believe that it would take far more than death to pull him away from us.

BRING ON THE MAIL!  Each and every piece with his name on it reminds me that he loves us, is watching over us, and we will be together again.  I love you my darling Nyle!  You will travel with me throughout the rest of my life.  I also know that you watch over our beloved daughters.  Thanks my dearie for sending the mail in your name!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Believe in Good Things to Come."

"Don't you give up.  Don't you quit.  You keep walking.  You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead.  It wil be all right in the end.  Trust God and believe in good things to come."  Jeffrey R. Holland

I adore this quote.  Each and every morning when I awaken I tell myself, today I will not, GIVE UP, GIVE IN, OR GIVE OUT!  On the other hand, I will do my best to GIVE positive energy to others who share this planet with me.

I have made a resolve to never allow someone else to determine my behavior.  I'm even working on my tendency to shout at people who drive selfishly, with no regard for any of the other drivers on the road.

These are goals that I have set for myself.  Do I always attain them?  Of course not!  The fact that I couldn't be steadfast and perfect in these goals used to make me feel like giving up.  What good is it to reach for a distant goal if you CAN'T master it completely all at once?

One of the very best things in this life is that we have many new chances to start over and do better.  We have a new morning, new afternoon, new evening.  We have new nights.  We have new weeks, months, years.  Each and everyone of these "new" experiences is a chance to wipe the old slate clean, and to start anew.

Do you like yourself?  It's really, really tough to live if you can't stand yourself.  After all, if you go into a different room to get away from yourself, you always follow.  I have gone through periods of time in my life when I just sincerely could not stand myself!  Even sleeping does not completely do away with this problem.  Dreams come into our minds from the living we do.

Is it possible to learn to like yourself?  ABSOLUTELY!  NO DOUBT!  Is it possible to learn how to be more positive in life?  ABSOLUTELY!  NO DOUBT!

Here are a few suggestions in learning to love yourself: 

1.  Sit down with a pen and notebook.  Write down 5 things that you like about yourself.  They can be deep or shallow, "I like myself because I have a positive personality."  Or, "I like myself because I have lovely hazel eyes."

2.  Resist the urge to dig up the things you DISLIKE about yourself.

3.  Now that you've written those 5 things, expand upon them.  "I love my hazel eyes because they remind me of my Grandma Howard.  I'm happy to be descended from someone as wonderful as Grandma!"

4.  Write down any and all positive lyrics, poems, or scriptures that you can find.  An example of a scripture would be, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..."  That is in the Old Testament in the Christian Bible.  An example of a positive lyric, "Smile, though your heart is aching, smile though you feel it'll learn that life is worthwhile if you just smile."  One of my favorite go to poems that makes me so happy, "Oh how I do love to go up in a swing, up in the sky so blue, oh I do think it's the pleasantest thing, ever a child can do."  Robert Louis Stevenson  Remember that in the movie Pollyana she listed all the "glad" scriptures in the Bible.  Those are scriptures that mention happiness, joy, etc. etc.  It's always a lift to look at these positive ideas.

5.  Make yourself a happy notebook.  It needs to be something small enough to go in your purse.  You may put pictures that make you feel positive, quotes, lyrics, poetry, or you can make a collage of things that make you feel positive about yourself.

These are all simple steps, but I can promise that they WILL help you to feel better about yourself.  An amazing fact about feeling positively about yourself?  When you feel good inside, you feel more comfortable forgetting about yourself and reaching out to others!

I'm going to end with one of my hubby's favorite quotes.  Our daughter read this at Nyle's funeral.  It's from the book "The Little Prince."  "It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, what is  essential is invisible to the eye."  Open up your heart to love yourself, and to be positive in your living! 


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Morning Breaks

There is a lovely song that says, "The morning breaks, the shadows flee."  What time of day is the best for you?  I have always been jealous of "morning people."  You know, those people who wake up enthused at the possibility of a new day and race right into it.

I don't get up really early, but I do enjoy the freshness of a new day.  I usually get up at the crack of 9 a.m.  I'm retired so if I want to, I can go back to bed and nap.  When I awaken to a blizzard raging outside, I am grateful that I don't have to battle those elements.  Sometimes I go back to sleep and awaken after the blizzard.

I did work from 8 to 5 for over 30 years.  Those days I awakened (or rather my body moved like a zombie) at 6:30 a.m.  This was especially difficult since I still didn't get to sleep until midnight or 2 a.m.

Nyle, Ardis, and I really had a good thing going.  All of us were nocturnal in varying degrees.  If Nyle and I couldn't sleep at night we'd get up at 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning.  We'd wake little Ardis up, change her, and take her with us on our middle of the night fun.  Sometimes we'd get breakfast, other times we'd explore, little roads that we had not yet traveled, or perhaps a 4 wheel trip.  "Rough roads," is what our darling oldest called them.

THEN CAME SARAH!  At first I actually wondered if the dear Lord had given us the wrong child!  A MORNING PERSON?  IN OUR HOME?  She would awaken between 6 and 8 am every single morning.  It didn't matter when she went to sleep...her internal alarm would awaken her and she was ready to live!

When she was a toddler that could speak she would toddle in to our bedroom.  "I want to play!"

Ardis was still sleeping.  Nyle was still sleeping.  Sarah wanted ME to get up with her.  I would stagger to the TV and turn it on for her.  Then she'd say these immortal words, "I want YOU to play with me!"  These fateful words precluded any further attempts at escaping back into dreamland.

In college, Ardis scheduled her classes (at least when she could) at the civilized hour of 9 a.m. or later.  Not Sarah.  Even though Sarah went to school in Rexburg, Idaho (which we used to call ICEBURG Idaho.  The phrase explains a little about the winter weather), she would get up and walk a mile or two to get to her class at 7:45.  She took classes early ON PURPOSE!  She said, "I like to get up and start my day early.

Again, I repeat, if I did not witness that our beloved girl was born of me...I sometimes might wonder.  She now teaches school at a school that is far away from our home.  This necessitates a long commute night and morning.  Each evening at 9:30 or 10:00 she is snuggled into her bed, and then asleep quickly.  (Not nocturnal)

Ardis and I are up until around midnight usually.  I often stay up until 2 and sometimes more like 4.  If our dear Nyle were still on earth with us he would be sound asleep by at least 10 A.M.!  He was the most nocturnal of us all.  Often he would awaken me at 4 a.m.  He would want to share some wonderful idea, or discovery that he had found.  Once he awakened me to watch TELETUBBIES!  I watched....and he fell asleep. 

Since his death I awaken many times at 4:00 a.m.  Apparently Nyle still has wondrous things to share with me.  Now I believe the wonder he wants to share is the beauty of the quiet world at 4 a.m.  Of course, if I'm awake, our cute little doggy absolutely MUST get up and go outside.  The amazing beauty of 4 a.m. in this place and space is very powerful.  AND THEN...I go back and climb into my warm, cozy bed, and go back to sleep!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

The word kindness is often seen as a description of someone weak, ineffectual.  In my lifetime I have seen that kindness is the truest measure of character.  People who are genuinely kind usually carry that kindness through to the rest of their lives.  Kind people do NOT seek to control anyone!  Kind people do not beat their children.  Kindness is loving, warm, and encouraging.

Living in Utah I have personally witnessed an exception to the above paragraph.  The people that I meet in stores, medical clinics, and public places in general are always extremely kind.  Then how is it possible that those same kind people climb behind the wheel of a car and turn into selfish, unkind, self absorbed drivers?

I have lost count of the times that I have been cut off, charged over, or even hit, and the driver did NOT know that anything had happened.  These drivers consider themselves the most important person on the road, and others had better just watch out for them.

My hubby, daughter and I were driving north bound heading to visit our other daughter at college.  There was road construction but not a lot of warning signs.  Suddenly out lane just quit!  No warning, no way to continue forward without hitting many dangerous things.  The driver on our right did not even know we were there!  She was merrily chatting away on her cell phone, completely oblivious to the emergency situation to her left.

I was ever so grateful that my husband with his amazing reflexes was driving.  He managed to keep from running into the chatty lady.  On the other hand it drove us into a couple of cones and broke off our rear view mirror on the driver's side.  We continued to drive north.  We saw the woman again 10 minutes later, and she was still chatting away on her cell phone, not even aware that she had caused an accident by not being aware of the drivers around her.

The worst example of all was the accident that my family experienced.  They were in my daughter's old clunker car.  It had stalled on the freeway.  So they were in the emergency lane with the flashers on.  They were letting the car coast to get as close to home as possible.  With towing charges per mile they were aware of each mile.

A nineteen year old boy hit them...on the rear, right side of the car.  He did not even brake.  He was traveling at 75 miles an hour.  The impact was so extreme that it flipped the car completely around, and forced the trunk of the car on the right to move forward and encase my husband in metal hell.

In the aftermath my daughter who was driving could not find her cell phone to call for help.  Her Father was dying, her sister's arm was shattered, and she was in shock.

The boy came to her car door (she didn't want to leave her Papa and sister) and said, "Are you all OK?"

She responded, "NO, we're NOT!  I can't find my cell phone.  CALL 911!"

This happened three times in about 20 minutes and the boy still didn't call 911!  Did I mention that my husband was DYING? 

Finally my daughter was able to locate her cell phone, and miracle of miracles it was working.  So SHE called 911.  It took an hour and 45 minutes to pry my hubby from the jaws of death.  He broke all 12 ribs on the right...some of them were shattered to dust, five levels of his back (they had to rebuild his back, he lost an inch and a half of height), broke his right arm, and his right shoulder, punctured his lung (amazing that he didn't puncture both lungs with those sharp shards of ribs floating about), and had numerous other internal injuries.

It was a miracle that he survived the accident.  He spent six weeks in the hospital.  Then he spent six months trying to let his back heal.  His ribs NEVER healed.  I believe that his life was shortened.  He only lived another two years and then died at 54 years of age.

Our daughter in the left side back seat had been leaning to the right half asleep.  It was 1:35 in the morning.  They had been playing board games with some of our family.  The impact shattered her right arm, and damaged her occipital nerve.  It also damaged soft tissue in her right shoulder, and damaged several portions of her back.  She now lives with constant, unrelenting, chronic pain.

Our other daughter was driving.  She had the least amount of visible injuries.  The injuries that couldn't be seen, or quantified by a CT scan began to become apparent less than a year later.  She too will live with chronic pain all of her life.

I was supposed to be with them that night.  If I had been, either I or our daughter would have been seated behind my husband.  Anybody between Nyle and the trunk would have been crushed.

So, we counted many miracles.  All three of them should have died.  I actually had an EMT come find me in the ER.  He explained that the previous week he had attended an identical accident, and all three of those travelers died. 

Nyle did live another two years.  His injuries were so massive that he suffered with them for the next two years.  On the other hand we were ever so grateful to have him with us for those next two years!

Our oldest girls injuries became worse and worse.  Her shattered arm did not heal properly.  A surgeon re-broke it and put pins and a titanium plate inside.  He did a miserable job and it left her with what she calls, "Robo arm."  She can only use it in very specific ways.  She used to play the violin...she has not since.  She is brilliant and has found many, many ways to compensate for the new normal she has, but she lives with pain, every single day.

The boy said that he just looked away for a moment.  The moon was brilliant that night, a golden orb floating in and out through clouds of silver.  I know, because I enjoyed the moon myself that night.  I don't believe that the boy was doing any such thing.  He was texting.  The boy claimed on Facebook that his favorite thing was his Blackberry.  There is nothing wrong with that, except when you are using it while driving a car late at night going 75 miles per hour, and driving in the emergency lane of the freeway instead of the freeway lanes.

We were inundated with kindness as we moved through this tragedy.  My husband had so many injuries that it was close to impossible for regular nursing care to be sufficient.  I stayed with him for most of his hospitalization.  This was excruciatingly hard because both of our girls, though they were adults, were struggling horribly.

Dear friends of Ardis' came and stayed with the girls.  They made certain they had medicine when they needed it, fed them, and helped them through that ever so difficult transition.  Having them step up when they were so desperately needed made it possible for me to stay with Nyle.

The nursing staff at the hospital were amazing!  The male nurse assigned to Nyle watched over him with the care of a Papa Penguin.  When Nyle was so desperately ill, fighting for his life, Josh was there...teasing Nyle into doing things that he might not have done otherwise.

Nyle had written a song before the accident.  The title, "You Can Go to Hell or You Can Drive in Utah, Either Way it's Just the Same.)  The irony is that Nyle and I learned to drive in this fair state.  We are/(were in Nyle's case) both excellent drivers.  Unfortunately, the scales have tipped.  It seems as our population increases and our roads widen the drivers become more and more selfish.

I will end this post with the lyrics from Nyle's song,

You can go to Hell or you can drive in Utah
Either way it's just the same
You can go to Hell or you can drive in Utah
Either Way you've got the Devil to blame!

The idea that I prescribe to end this trend is, random acts of kindness.  Be aware of the cars around you!  Get off your cell phone, never, EVER touch your texting screen while driving, and remember that in reality you are driving an enormous weapon of mass destruction.  How will it make you feel if your urgency to get ahead of another driver, or impatience with someone trying change lanes or merge ends in a car accident?  The driver that you have hit is dead, or maimed for life.  You are left with crippling, chronic illness.  Is that extra 3 minutes that you earned by cutting someone off worth living the rest of your life in either situation?  Or worse, worth giving your life up for that selfishness on your part?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Favorite Daughter - Who was born second

They laid our precious child on my tummy.  I looked down and was startled because she only had 4 toes.  FOUR toes on each foot.  Of course, I was prepared to love my child no matter how many toes or fingers, or how few for that matter!  Then the little girl popped those reluctant toes out.  They had been hiding behind the others.  PHEW...I was relieved.

In the nursery of our teeny, tiny, country hospital was a preemie weighing 4 pounds at three months old.  I felt almost guilty when they laid our beautiful 8 pound 14 oz. baby girl next to him.  She came into the world absolutely perfect.  She did fake her Mother out.  Well, just for a moment.

Sarah Elizabeth was to be her name.  She was named Sarah for her Maternal Grandmother, and Sarah Elizabeth for two of her maternal 2nd great Grandma's  We wanted her to have a strong name!  We wanted a name that would give her righteous role models.  We had no idea that her name was so beautiful that many, many others also carried that same name.

Sarah had a rocky start in life.  The tubes in her ears were formed in such a way that caused them to be chronically irritated and often infected.  This also led to chronic colic.  Sarah cried...A LOT!  Looking back I wish that we had gotten tubes for her little ears, much sooner.  The doctors all said that we should wait.  They advised that the problem with her ears would get better as she grew bigger.

They were wrong.  Her ears finally reached a point when they NEVER CLEARED of infection!  At the age of three we had tubes put in her ears.  She was a new child!  She was happy almost all of the time!  (That's about all any of us can say, right?)

She had been language delayed because her ears were so full of fluid that she couldn't hear well.  Now she chattered like an adorable little birdie.  She was eager to discuss any and all things.

Sarah was unstoppable!  She wanted to run, run, and run some more.  On a soccer team she didn't really care much about what the other team members did with the ball.  She just wanted to run.  Run she did, up and down the field.  She even ran in her sleep, her chubby legs pumping the air vigorously.

Seven years old and alone with her beloved Daddy one day she proved her courage.  Her Daddy had a biopsy in his throat.  The incision popped open and began to hemorrhage.  This would be a nightmare for anyone, but especially a 7 year old child.

She went and found a clean washcloth.  Next she put pressure on the incision to get it to stop bleeding.  All of this was done calmly, no histrionics, just something that had to be done.

Growing up with two parents who had serious physical challenges; Sarah learned empathy and compassion.  From her earliest years Sarah was very aware of others around her, and longed to lift and love.

Sarah had a powerful passion for the magic of dance and singing.  At six months of age she began to sing, little tunes that enraptured her.  At the same time she became aware of rhythm and movement.  At the age of eighteen months, Santa brought her a lovely, brand new, walker.  The type that you pop the child in and off they go.  It had wheels, but they couldn't seem to move fast enough for this little go getter.  The best part for Sarah was that there were all types of ways to play rhythm and music.  She would sit in that little chair and sing, dance, and rejoice.  She was happiest when she could sing and dance.

Several years later we went shopping one day.  There was a large circular stage in the middle of the immense electronics store.  There had been some type of performance earlier in the day.  The stage had not been cleared away.  There was music playing on a loudspeaker.  Many children were dancing on that stage.  Ardis quickly joined the company.  Shy Sarah was a little more difficult to convince.  It didn't take very long after her sister began to dance.  At first Sarah was timid, aware of all the people that might be watching.  It was not long before Ardis became bored and went off to a different part of the store with her Daddy.

Sarah was entranced.  It seemed as though she had forgotten that there was a world outside of the universe where she danced.  She danced with the joy that comes from interpretation of music.  Her face was filled with transformative wonder.  When it came time to stop and go home it took a great deal of convincing (and perhaps some bribery) to lure her away from that stage, and dancing to that music.

Sarah and her Sister attended a special middle school for the arts.  This allowed them to dance 5 days a week for an hour.  Both of them took to dance like the proverbial duck to water.  They were both happiest when they were dancing.

At home we sang together, danced together, and sometimes performed at church functions or family get-togethers.  We were all happiest when we shared music in whatever form as a family.  Grandma Sarah's favorite memory from our family was marching in the circle between our front room and kitchen to a children's hymn.  Nyle led the marching, Grandma Sarah proudly marched behind him (she was in her 80s at this point), then Sarah and her sister Ardis.  I Mama played the piano.

Sarah brightened every place just by entering.  Her energy is legend.  One of her roomies at college told me that you could hear Sarah's unique laughter all across the campus.  (Sarah has a  hearing loss from those years of infection.  Sometimes she is a bit loud without knowing it.)  Her laughter lightens and brightens the air around her.  Her roomie said, "I love to hear Sarah's laugh.  It makes the day seem happier."

Now, Sarah is a fifth grade school teacher.  She decided that teaching was a way for her to bless the lives of others.  Twenty-eight adorable children are blessed to be in Sarah's classroom each and every day.  She laughs with them, helps them to feel safe in her space, and she teaches them how to find joy in everyday life.  Oh, of course, there are the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  She simply integrates those subjects into real life.  She doesn't want the students just to read and regurgitate.  She wants them to look forward to a lifetime of learning.

Sarah helps care for me, her disabled Mother.  She and her Sister insist that I took care of them, now it's their turn to take care of me.  She is ever so loving.  Laughter rings through our house when Sarah is home.  Not that Ardis and I are gloomies.  It's just that Sarah has this magical power of laughter and love.  She carries it with her wherever she goes.

Maybe naming her after excellent role models was a good idea.  She does her best to emulate these terrific ladies, while adding many of her own elements, the magic and joy of good humor, the power to change, the motivation to be better everyday. 

I am grateful every single day for this darling dynamo.  She entered the world strong and large.  Then she grew into a tiny little body.  Tiny but mighty is how I always think of Sarah.  Her fifth graders are mostly taller than she is.  Parents have assumed she was a student on multiple occasions. It doesn't matter.  Her students love and appreciate the gifts that she gives them.  I suspect that Sarah's legendary energy will last her well into her 90s.  She will always be a positive power to be reckoned with!

I give thanks everyday to God above for the privilege of being Sarah's Mom!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dr. Who, What, When, and Why?

For those of you who are not interested by the television show Dr. Who, (a sci-fi drama that has been around for over 50 years).  The basic idea is that Dr. Who is a thousands of year old alien (no he's not from Mexico, he's a genuine space alien, from a different planet).   He's a very charitable alien.  He spends his time jet setting about in a space ship that looks exactly like a pay phone in England.  (The series is British, but many of we "Colonials," also enjoy it).

You climb in the ship, (which is MUCH larger inside than out), and poof you land two hundred years ahead.

That was my feeling last Friday evening.  I spent almost an hour and a half trying my best to look my best fifty-eight year old self.  I went all out...yes, I wore jewelry, AND did my make-up!  I was a nervous wreck by the time I arrived at the venue.

Walking in I recognized two faces.  They were ladies I have known since 5th grade but hadn't seen for at least thirty-five years.  They rushed forward to hug and welcome.  That would have been even nicer if they had treated me like that 40 years ago.

To put it plainly, my attitude about this experience was stinky!  Grades 1-12 for me were Hellish.  I was tormented on a daily basis.  I was an odd kid.  I had beat death many, MANY times by the age of 6.  This living with fragile health thing made me grow up very, very fast.  I felt more comfortable with my over sixty year old friends than I did with my peers.  I had much more in common with my elderly friends.

In High School, if I walked in through the main door there was a group of "Jocks" that sat in a bench there and they would judge the girls walking in.  They didn't give me any number from 1-10.  They would just bark at me.  I dare you to start your day that way sometime...have people sitting on a bench judging you, and finding you seriously deficit.  I learned where all the other doors were in the building to try and avoid this early morning greeting.

Sexual harrassment?  That phrase had not been coined yet.  In one of my English classes (the subject that normally was my favorite class), three boys sat around me.  They would constantly barrage me with images of their various male apparatus.  They even passed me a drawing once.  If that didn't receive the required "Reaction," they put a tack on my chair, many times.  It took a few times before I got smart and ALWAYS checked my chair before I sat.

The final straw came when they threw a pen AT ME.  It hit me in the forehead about an inch from my eye.  It hit hard enough that it stuck in my forehead.  I had to pull it out.

Mama took me to the doctor who cleansed it (Gratefully, it didn't need stitches).  Mama marched me into the Vice-Principal's office.  She demanded that justice be dealt to the miscreants.  (I think I just channeled my husband the attorney''s spirit.  I don't usually use words like dealt, justice, and miscreant in the same sentence).  The Vice-Principal said, "Mrs. Cheney, they are just teenage boys going through a phase.  It wouldn't make any difference if I did call them in to my office and discipline them.  In fact, (I think I saw the light bulb above his head as he had a new idea), they would no doubt, torment her even worse."

Another day Mama went by herself to speak to my English teacher.  He was an excellent teacher, but I soon found out a miserable advocate for justice.  He had given me an U in citizenship for the class.  A U was pretty close to failing.  I had NEVER received a lower grade than S for Satisfactory.  The U was UNsatisfactory.  Mama told him about the torment I was enduring, and asked about the citizenship grade.  (I was also far too timid to earn a U in citizenship).

He said, "Nobody else would sit by those boys.  Where would I put them in the class?"  He continued, "I gave Caroljoy a U because she does not participate in class."

When Mama reported I was stunned.  I didn't participate in class because I was too busy trying to run away from the harrassment and cruelty of these boys.  I would read, read, read, anything, all things, to try and deflect the misery of their non-stop comments.

I did my best NOT to tell my parents about the daily almost non-stop torment.  I had a wonderful home life.  My home was my sanctuary from my school misery.  I DID NOT, wish to to bring that misery home with me.  In addition I had seen first hand that having my parent intercede in my behalf did NOTHING.  If anything it accelerated the ongoing misery.

The really odd thing to me was that after leaving high school I attended a wonderful college in another state.  I did NOT change in any obvious manner.  My skin still broke out from time to time.  My hair still liked being frizzy.  My teeth WERE perfect now.  That was awesome.  Suddenly I was popular, people wanted to be my friend.  There were even some young men that liked me.  I had my first serious boyfriend that year.

You might ask, "Why would I ever want to return to the group that made my life so miserable?"  I am a proud third generation Davis Dart.  My Grandmother, Grandfather, and Mother also attended this high school.  I am proud of my heritage!  I refuse to let the cruelty I experienced sabotage my academic heritage.

It was astonishing, forty years later, to be treated as a valuable member of our class!  I didn't get up and mingle very much.  I have two bad knees, and a really bad back.  I didn't have to stand and go to others to mingle.  They came to me!  What fun it was to associate with these people of my youth, with the daily harrassment gone.

I fully intend to attend my fiftieth high school reunion if I make it that far.  Now, I'm interested, invested in these people.  After forty years, it seems as though they have finally grown up.  Maybe I have too?  Grown up enough to realize that we were all just kids, the torment that I received grew out others insecurities.

Was it OK for those kids to bully me?  NOT AT ALL!  At the same time one of the greatest experiences in life is to understand the motivation of people who seem to be your enemies.  In understanding them, their behavior loses some of its sting.  In forgiving them, letting go of the past, lies true freedom and self-knowledge.  In striving to be the best self I can be, is the greatest power that I may receive in life.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Beads on a string...

My ever wise and wonderful sister-in law once told me a grand truth.  She said that dishes and other similar tasks in a household are like putting beads on a string with no knot on the end.  You know the tasks...laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, dusting, tidying, etc. etc.  All of these tasks are important.  Yet as you finish those nasty dishes and sigh in relief, you remember that it's time to make lunch!  Oh, did I forget to include meals in that parade of endless tasks?

It was evening, dinner was finished.  Our girls had settled down to do their homework.  I was exhausted.  I had been moving and doing all day long.  I had done the dishes, sorted clothes, washed clothes, folded clothes, and put clothes away.  I had tidied the house at least twice.  I had prepared three meals, (trying to make them nutritional).  With all of that moving and doing, my house looked as though not one single task had been accomplished.

I HAD done all of those tasks but these are the type of tasks that cry out to be done, over, and Over, AND OVER, as long as life goes on.  Am I suggesting that we live in a filthy home that is never cleaned?  Perish the thought.  Who wants to live in messy and cluttered ALL of the time?  We all have relative levels of what is clean in a home.  On one side is Polly Perfectionist.  Her home is NEVER in disarray.  Not a cluttered spot anywhere!  The other extreme is Hilda Hoarder.  You can not walk anywhere in her home and actually touch the floor.  She has collected so many belongings that they have taken over her home.  She can't even find clothing because they are literally piled so high everywhere.


I'm suggesting a different strategy.  We CAN make household tasks seem meaningless very, very easily.  Is it possible to view even these tasks in a positive light?  As I make the suggestion you should know that I will NEVER find a way to enjoy washing dishes.  The only way that I can do them over and over is by singing to music, or chatting on the phone with ones that I love.

How about if we break up those household doldrums?  Ever have a party with a friend and clean?  I'm always amazed at how quickly tasks can be done when I am doing them with a friend.  Then you switch and YOU help them with their household tasks.  

Along my life path I have come to understand that the only difference between work and play is (WAIT FOR....) YOUR ATTITUDE!  That's right, I said attitude of joy can diminish the feeling of CRAP, I HAVE TO WASH THE DISHES!

You can break up those endless tasks that life seems to spawn.  Wash the dishes, play with your children, or your beloved dog or kitty.  (Those other tasks, children and doggy are the most important!)  Mop your floor, dance to "Just Dance," or exercise to Kick Boxing, or about a million other DVD's you can buy online, or at a thrift store.  Take a treat to some friend...and visit for awhile.

Wash the clothes, and dance, or pick up your adorable child and dance with them.  After lunch, read your child a story.  I don't care that your laundry is threatening to eat your laundry room alive!

In ten years what will you remember about today?  Will you remember that you cleaned your kitchen to the level of sparkling, and then had to fix a meal and all that work was undone?  Will you remember that you spent time with your husband, children, parents, family?  What thing can you do today that will make life better in ten years?

There is the entire crux of the matter.  WHAT WILL matter in five years, ten years?  Will it be the fact that your children learned to clean so well from your example that their homes sparkle? Or do your children hoard, and live in chaos?  Is there a balance in their lives?  Have they learned the ability to prioritize well, and to understand what matters most in life?

Sorry, I just took a break to play with my little doggy.  Then I spoke with a beloved friend on the phone.  There ARE dishes piled high in my kitchen.  The laundry is threatening to cause a landslide hazard in my basement.

I know that in ten years what will matter is the singing, the dancing, the loving, the enjoying that I did today.  So, call a long lost friend, or "friend" them on Facebook.  Wash the dishes while you chat.  Mary Poppin's was right, "A spoonful of sugar DOES help the medicine go down!"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Advice From Your Fears...NEVER!

I don't know if I'll ever conquer all of my fears.  I have grundles of fears. ( Grundle...more than a bundle, and even more than a gross!  Grundle.)  I do understand that my fears reflect my life experiences.  I've had ever so many life experiences.  I generally prefer to focus on all of the grand ones, and I've had lots of those, but for the sake of this post I'm going to chat a bit about my fears, where they came from, and the attempts I've made to beat them back.

Darkness.  A loving friend once told me by way of comfort, "There's nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light."  GONG, is that comfort?  I am completely and utterly aware that in the light there are plenty of things to cause fear.  The biggest difference is that during the day you can SEE what you fear, and that takes away a little of the hair raising, goose bump creating, adrenaline pumping, fright.

Heights.  I remember being very, very young, probably two or three and my six foot two Father swinging me up on his shoulders.  He had a firm, safe, hold on me but I went wacky.  I pulled at his hair, screamed, kicked, and cried until he put me down on terra firma.  I can NOT ride in a lift chair at a ski resort.  My feet simply can NOT dangle hundreds of feet in the air with nothing underneath.  I can do slightly better in a tram, but NOT if the floor consists of see through anything.  I see no powerful reason to face this fear.  Maybe someday when I want to encourage grandkids to face their fears.

Choking.  I was born allergic to this world.  Seriously, I have had many, MANY allergy tests performed.  I react to every substance.  I've had allergy shots three or four times in my life.  They HAVE helped, but I still remain very allergic.  I never know what substance I'm going to react to.  Choking happens less than it used to.  HOORAY!  I just never know when it will happen.  Sitting in a very sacred worship service, suddenly I feel my throat swelling, my air passages narrowing.  I can't just stand up and retreat.  Fortunately, I almost always carry a lozenge of some type with me. (I have to even be careful what type of lozenge.  If they have honey, sometimes the honey pollens make me react!)  The lozenge tends to beat back the swelling. 

Dentists.  My teeth are almost gone, and I'm just fifty-eight.  It happened by a combination of factors like illness, car accidents, etc. etc.  I've been through root canals, crowns, cavities, fractured teeth, many, many other dental horrors.  I can NOT sit calmly in a dentist chair and let them work on me.  I can only be worked on through the use of Nitrous Oxide/Laughing Gas.  It doesn't make me laugh but it takes the fear firmly away.

That is enough of fear.  Just by relating those fears I feel my heart pumping harder, and my adrenaline beginning to ramp up.  I speak of them only to express the difference between living with fear firmly in control, or living with FAITH in control.  For those who do not believe in any sort of religion, or God inspired ideas let me bring in common ideas.  Faith is NOT just about God, or religion.  It takes faith to go to sleep at night.  Faith to wake up and live.  Faith to have a family. Faith to work at a job.  We need faith in ourselves to achieve, and grow.  Faith is a living, vital power.  Not simply "The evidence of things unseen..." 

I love the quote that says, "Never take advice from your fears."  NEVER!  Stop and think of the profundity of that quote.  It doesn't imply SOMETIMES, any period of time, allowing fear to control your life choices.  IS THAT POSSIBLE?  Can we literally, actually NEVER allow fear to tell us how to live life?  Please understand I am NOT suggesting that you immediately sign up to jump from a plane, or climb a rock face on a mountain.  There are many more simple ways to fight fear.

What would that mean in your world?  For me it would mean not watching murder mysteries before bed!  lol  That's a simple fix for my intense fear of the dark.  In the hour before I retire to sleep I need to fill my mind with thoughts of power, and inspiration.  I need to focus on Ideas that elevate, and bring me into my strongest self.

How do we do that?  Beat fear with faith?  Is it even possible?  I am all too human.  I DON'T always manage.  Yet reaching for the brightest within myself, the strongest possible self is the grandest adventure of life.

Let me re-state that.  When you think of an adventure how do you define it?  Do the characters in pirate movies have adventures?  Do you think of swashbuckling with a sharp, bright sword your fears away.  That is an excellent image.  Using something powerful and sharp to slash those fears away!

Adventure?  Robert Louis Stevenson (one of my favorite writers and humans), wrote "Treasure Island," before he ever saw an island.  He wrote of those adventures from his sick bed.  He was born with severe allergy asthma.  That was a terminal diagnosis at that time.  There wasn't even canned oxygen to give him when he would struggle (yes, and choke) for oxygen.  Yet he had a grand adventure...IN HIS MIND!

Is that possible?  I validate that YES it is!  I wrote my books for years from my bed.  As a small child, ill most of the time, no worthwhile children's daytime television, and not old enough to read,  I would write stories in my mind.  Those early childhood ideas cogitated for over forty years before I began to put them on paper. 

When I would make up strong, valiant, people in my mind I would also strengthen myself.  I would face my fears instead of letting THEM face me! 

YES...I have lots and lots of fears.  Yet I am aware that it IS possible to face them.  I like to envision myself sticking my tongue out and stamping my foot and saying, "I AM stronger than you!"  I do not wish to give another minute of my life away to being ruled by fear. 

Today, find a fear moment, and conquer it!  Build some mental armor.  Helmet, a quote that inspires you, breastplate, a friend who helps you to be your best, lower part of the armor (Can't remember the name), prayers or meditation, Shield, a physical activity that creates endorphins (dancing for me, or water aerobics).  In your mind, put on that armor and FACE YOUR FEAR!  You may be surprised by how empowering this small activity can be in your life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Can We Create Our Own Reality?'s a word that has many, many meanings.  The basic idea is that the word represents the life that each of us lives.  Reality is supposedly a law that has strict boundaries.  The sun is shining outside.  Today that is a reality in my word.  It can be proven simply by looking out the window. 

Last night there were angels flying through our home.  The joy and peace that they brought with them helped me to relax and sleep.  I could not SEE those angels with my human senses.  In other words, that was not REALITY. 

Reality means the things that you can define with your senses.  If you can't see, hear, touch, taste, or feel with your hands, the experience falls outside the definition of reality, or does it?

I attended a lecture where the speaker said, "Each of us have our own reality."

To that point I was very comfortable seeing life as reality...and now he was telling me that MY reality might not fit in someone else's perception?  How could that be possible.

When my husband attended Law School, into his brilliant mind was pounded the concept of "Relative truth."  That was another mind stretcher for me.  To this point in my life, truth, much like reality was either black, or it was white.  There was no gray shading shadowing reality or truth!

Imagine taking a test where every single answer was correct?  Your task?  You had to choose the MOST correct of any of the answers given.  Welcome to a great portion of the Oregon Bar Exam.  Relative truth must be understood to pass this test.

I believe that each and everyone of us is capable of creating our own reality, our own truth.  I wake up in the morning every single morning, feeling physically miserable.  I live with many, many chronic illnesses.  I could choose each morning to make my reality the struggles of living with disability.  Some days, by necessity, I must face some unpleasant realities that come with living with physical challenge. 

On the other hand, why would I wish to give any portion of my life away.  Why would I wish to see ONLY the DIS in the word DISability?  Why wouldn't I wish to find all of the ABILITIES that I still have? 

Nyle related a story to me about an athlete who was paralyzed from the waist down in an accident.  His response?  "Before I had limitless things that I could do.  I still have at least a million things that I can do!"

Healing from that injury he became involved in para athletic events.  He was riding a hand controlled bicycle in a race.  He turned the corner and ran head on into a car that had ignored all the barriers, and warning signs and driven the wrong way on a one way street.  He lost both of his legs.  Again as he regained consciousness to this new grim loss his response was, "Now there are at least 800,000 things that I can still do!"

I wish that I were this endlessly positive.  I'm not.  Yet I do realize that it's very, very important to remember the law of focus.  If it's not actually a law, it should be.  To end my discussion I will tell a simple story.

 Sadie was an adorable 8 year old girl who had been cranky all morning long.  Her Mother was at the end of her patience.  She wanted to help Sadie change her attitude.  So drawing Sadie with her to the window the Mother said, "Sadie, look out the window and tell me what you see."

Sadie said grumpily, "Yuck Mom.  Don't you ever wash this window?  There are dead bug guts, and streaks all over it."

Sadie's Mother took a long, deep breath.  Then she answered, "Honey, look THROUGH the glass.  What do you see beyond that glass?" 

Sadie giggled, "Oh, there is my dolly that I couldn't find this morning.  I must have forgotten to bring her inside last night!  I don't remember the grass being that green.  Oh look at those fluffy clouds.  One of them looks like a bunny hopping!"

Her Mother now said, "Sadie, which one would you rather focus on, the bug guts, or the green grass?  Life is about focusing on what is the most positive."

Lest anyone say, "That's denial.  That's not reality!"  I remind you, Sadie SAW those bug guts, and the streaky window.  She didn't ignore them or pretend they didn't exist.  Instead a conscious choice was made to look beyond those negatives and see the positives.

Monday, September 22, 2014


I sit at the lovely collaged table in my dining nook to write.  I have habitually sat on the end of the table.  There I look straight out through my sliding glass door into beauty.  I see the trees that arch above our backyard.  In the winter I have an empty branched peek into the mountains above. 

Then one day I put my sewing machine in that spot.  So the next time I sat to write, to express my thoughts, I sat at the side of that same lovely table.  (It really is beautiful...filled with quotes, pictures, colors, textures, and inspiration for my writing!) 

Suddenly I realized that my view of everything exterior was completely changed.  Now I could see out of THREE large, lovely windows.  Each window is fluid artwork.  In the window straight ahead lies a portion of the silvery Salt Lake.  Beyond that are mountains that often seemed to float in space, lying squarely on top of wispy wondrous clouds.

To my right there are acres of blue sky.  This view changes from minute to minute as clouds fingerpaint the sky.  The window is six feet long, and about five feet wide.  It is very much like living art.  The window lets me view the artwork that changes.  BEAUTIFUL!

There was certainly nothing wrong with looking straight ahead to that majestic view.  Yet simply moving around to the side strengthened and lengthened my view of our planet.

Can we change our reality?  I would shout from the highest point of these awe inspiring mountains...YES! is up to us to move around the table and change our perspective.

I have had the privilege of traveling throughout Europe, Mexico, and Canada.  I have learned so much from just watching people live their lives.

In Mexico my husband and I were on a cruise ship.  We rubbed shoulders on that ship with wonderful people.  Most lived lives of financial privilege.  We would dress in formal evening wear to eat dinner at night.  (My sweetie sure made that tuxedo look good!)

Then by day we would choose excursions that would take us into different cities.  One such excursion took us by bus to a teeny, tiny, town.  There were no stoplights, no paved roads.

We walked through a garden that rivaled the biblical Garden of Eden.  A woman smiled sweetly at all of us, strangers, trooping through her garden and over to her covered patio.  Her husband sat inside his open doorway.  You could look in to the house and see that it was pretty much just two rooms, and not very big rooms at that.

The woman had a tortilla iron.  She had grown and blended the mixture that she would put on the iron.  It was like a waffle iron only with flat plates.  She would press down with the iron.  In short minutes you had a completely fresh, delicious tortilla.  Then she would ladle a mixture of beans onto that fresh tortilla.  A dollop of home made salsa completed the meal.

Later I learned that one of the tour guides had arranged for this older couple to be paid to create this meal for their tours.  The couple was too old and infirm to work at a regular job.  Now they earned a tiny pittance serving food to people who had probably never experienced the grinding power of want.

As we drove away our bus created a plume of dust.  Soon that dust was filled with bare-foot children laughing and chasing the bus.  It was probably a high light in their lives.  There was no television in their village.  There were certainly no computers, or smartphones.  Chasing a bus was a smiling way to be entertained!

My perception was that these people were poor, living lives of want and need.  I felt great sorrow watching those children running behind us into the dust spilled by the lumbering bus.

Then I noticed.  The children were smiling!  They were laughing!  These weren't desperately miserable human beings.  They were living their perspective with joy!  What they did have they were grateful for.  Their lives were simple.  Hard defined their existence.  They worked with their families much of each day.  This was true for adults AND children.  In that simple dynamic of their lives they found joy, and laughter!  Hard to them did not mean BAD!

I returned home with new eyes of gratitude.  My humble home kept the elements from my family.  We never went without food, or clothing.  Our support network, faith, family, and friends was firm and strong.

Did I see sorrow and pain?  YES, of course, as we traveled to different areas of Mexico.  Children greeted us at each location, begging, or selling small obscure tourist items.  I never got used to seeing children beg.   I was well aware that in THEIR reality there was pain and struggle.

Sometimes there was also great joy in living.  One woman that I sat next to spoke only Spanish.  I speak Un Poquito (very little).  Somehow we managed to communicate.  She joyously showed me pictures of her hijos (children).  I joyously shared pictures of mine.  We were sisters in that moment joined by the commonality of family.

The heart of what I'm trying to communicate is that we can learn and be changed by simply changing our position.  It CAN be simple.  It MAY be hard.  Hard is not always bad.  Sometimes it's the catalyst of great change and growth.

So today, what perspective are you working to change?  Stand up and move to a new view, and you will be surprised at how that tiny change can open your mind, your heart, to new ideas and growth.