Tag Archive | generosity

Finding Your Writing Purpose

positiveBefore I crawl out of the warm blankets and put my big toe on the cold hard wood floor every morning, I let the silence of the morning wash over me. I let my brain wake up slowly with the rest of me and enjoy the sheer luxury of a soft bed, soft fleece blankets and my little pug snoring softly by my side. I use this time to plan my day. Lately, it doesn’t take much to do that, now that I’m staying home most everyday, but I also use this time to ponder what I will write about.

Lately, I’m afraid I may have discouraged some of my “following” because I’ve talked a lot about the personal struggles Ken and I have encountered. Believe me, before writing any of those posts, I gave it great thought whether I should broach the subject at all. After all, talking about money problems, a car repossession, food stamps, energy assistance, etc. — is terribly embarrassing.

But, let’s face it, we all have periods when poop rains down on us, and we have to make a choice. Do we lie down and quit? Or, do we get up and find a creative way to crawl out of the pit?

This is the story of  a couple who loves each other enough to face “for better for worse, for richer for poorer,  in sickness and in health until death”. They have encountered a mean, progressive disease and long-term unemployment, which has resulted in a downward spiral. If we like a good story, we all want to know how the story will end, right?

It’s like a good novel. It’s a theme we all love. We all like to see a hero fall from grace and then rise again, right? We like to ride along with the character – will he give up or will he rise from the ashes? Heck, Harry Potter did it literally! He faced his fear and enemy, died, and rose again. And we loved it!

The other reason for baring my soul of these frustrations and  failures is to let others in this situation know they are not alone. When illness strikes, people get stupid. They don’t know what to say, so they stay away. We’re lucky. We are blessed with a stable of steady, good friends who are strong enough to walk this journey with us. We also have a family who knows how to love unconditionally. Without them, our situation would be so much more difficult.

So, for all of you who are lucky enough to be healthy, wealthy and wise, when sickness strikes one of your friends or family, don’t run. As hard as it is, stand beside them and let them know they are not alone. Being isolated is the worst thing a person experiences in life. Offer to help and keep your promises. They probably have as much trouble asking for help as I do–it’s humiliating to face you can’t do any more than what you’re doing and you’ve fell short.

So, my dear readers. I think I’ve found a focus for this blog after all. I’ve posted almost 200 posts about writing and teaching. I’m good at both, but hardly a master. I’ve gotten up on my soap box and screamed my opinions — and if you like that, have no fear that won’t go away. I’ve also talked about my stories and novels — and that piece won’t go away either because it is my life’s blood. But I think my higher calling is to write something that might touch another’s heart. To give someone else the courage to look medical threats in the eye and dare to come out swinging. If I can do that, my writing life is a success. And along with my novels of heroes who rise from the ashes, I’ll have enough material to keep me at the keyboard for a lifetime.

Pride and Humility–Brothers or Adversaries?

The Axes of Pride and Humility“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Ordinarily, I don’t quote the bible because I think it’s pretentious to do so. (Also, growing up Catholic impressed upon me I was too stupid to understand what the “good book” said in the first place. Reading the bible was only for “trained personnel” like priests and nuns.) But today, when I saw this quote, I had to pass it on because it fit what I’ve been experiencing this week.

If you’ve been following me through this journey of the world of “have nothing,” you know I’ve been humbled. I’ve had to accept help from sources I never thought I would have tap. (Like energy assistance to keep warm, and food stamps to put nourishment on our dining table, and prescription help to keep Ken functioning.)

Before these last three years, I’ve been competent, strong, and successful, achieving top honors in most everything I’ve ever done. So, now when I have to swallow my pride and accept help from others, I get a big lump in my throat. I feel like I have to choke. It drains me to know that I’m not as strong as I thought I was. It humbles me to know that I’m not as smart as I thought I was. I’ve come to realize being humble is a hard job.

Asking for help all of the time is exhausting. . . only because my pride gets in my way. My true friends have proved again and again they are an army standing beside me, ready to spring into action. They hold me up when I can’t stand on my own any longer. Their generosity overwhelms me with humility, and the words, “Thank You” hardly seem adequate. They help me see there is light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t yet another train coming to mow me down.

And to you, my loyal followers, I say thanks, too. Somehow it’s helpful to know that this journey is followed by others who care. From my worn-out living room chair, blogging has opened my world to terrific folks who think I have something worthwhile to say.

The most wonderful thing about this journey is knowing someday these experiences, along with the feelings that go with them, will manifest into new characters for my stories and novels. They will be richer and complex because I know how it feels to fall from a pinnacle.

And believe me, it’s not the fall that’s bad, but the landing is hard; and deciding to either get up and carry on or to lie there and give up is the dilemma we all have to face, isn’t it?

 

 

True Love Shown on Valentine’s

Today, I’m Grateful.

bleeding heart

I’ve come from the depths of despair to be revived by my dear friends and my beautiful in-laws who have all surrounded me with their love. I wasn’t going to talk about my situation, but I have to speak. It’s too beautiful not to pass on to you.

Just so you all know, for my entire life I have not been a slacker. I’ve been a doer. A leader. A hard worker. A person who wasn’t afraid to take the road “less traveled.”  For example, I was managing websites, when I barely knew what the Internet was back in 1995.  I’ve explored different careers. I’ve been a secretary, an adult college student, a business writer, an E-Commerce manager, a financial adviser, and an author with five books under my belt and two more ready for the editor. My latest career as a caretaker for my dear husband who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis is by far the most challenging of my life.  But that’s enough about me. I find tooting my own horn crass.

I just want you to understand, I’ve always paid my bills on time without fail . . . until the last year. And on Tuesday, my car was repossessed.

After Ken and I got all our junk out of the car, I handed the tow truck driver my keys. I didn’t cry. Instead, I sat in my chair with a numbness I can’t explain. It was almost as if this horrible, humiliating thing had just happened to someone else. That evening, Ken and I looked at each other and wondered where our lives had gone so wrong.

After a couple of hours of accepting what had happened, I found enough strength to call a friend. Then another. Ken called his parents. Before we knew it, the ball was rolling and we were surrounded in love. “It’ll be all right, Barb.” They all said. Then they took action.

By the next day, my dear father-in-law went to the bank and paid off the balance of our loan. My other friend, Jackie gave me money to get the car off the impound lot. Terry brought me the reflux medicine I needed. And Kay told me this morning that she’s going to spearhead some kind of fund raiser to help us.

The moral to this very personal story is this: Friends are the greatest gifts the Universe gives us. It’s evident  God works through them whenever He/She can. They are more precious than gold.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, be sure to give all of your friends and family a big hug and let them know how dear they are to you. They are special blessings. My story is sound proof.

Happy Valentine’s Everyone. Thanks for reading.

Giving is Forever

Santa and childrenI can remember when I was a child WAITING for the night that Santa Claus would bring me the gift that I had been dreaming about all year — or at least since my birthday in July. Yes, it was a magical time for a little girl. A time that all children should have a chance to experience. Even the fact that Santa NEVER brought me a Lionel train set could be overlooked because he did bring me ice skates.

The sad fact is, this miracle of an elf coming in the night to shower presents on eager children with big dreams isn’t worldwide. There are children who go to bed hungry on Christmas Eve and most of us don’t even give them a second thought. There are poor children living on our city streets with their mothers, who would just be thankful for one safe night in a warm comfy bed. Other children wish for enough food to fill their extended tummies. Orphanages are filled with children who just wish someone would love them. In still other places, girls dream to have an education.  Wouldn’t it be great if the Jolly Ol’ Elf could grant these children their Christmas wishes?

I’m always excited when God touches the lives of people who are like Santa. Like Oprah who started a school in Africa, like Bono who contributes to 32 charities to fight poverty and hunger. Angelina Jolie is the Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. She and Brad Pitt also founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to fight poverty in rural areas. Then there’s George Clooney who made the world open its eyes to the genocide going on in Darfur. This list of Celebrity Santas goes on, too. Bill and Melinda Gates have created a foundation to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty worldwide, while in America, it expands educational opportunities and access to information technology.  Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ellen DeGeneres, Scarlett Johnansson, Justin Timerlake and many others. They all have given their famous names and a lot of their money to make the world better.

So, what can we do? After all most of us don’t have enough money to do such grandiose gestures. How can we make a difference?

It’s easy. Let God touch your heart and find out. Then listen and wait. Before too long, you’ll feel a tug at your heart that won’t leave you alone. Don’t ignore it because this is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s your way to be Santa any time of the year.

The Statistics Are In

Write2As a relatively new blogger, I’m interested in seeing what people enjoy reading.  Hmm…..must be the businessperson in me–“Give ’em what they want and they will come.” So, I’ve done a little statistical research and learned that my present audience enjoys the feel good story, Santa Came to Town”  and Angels to the Rescue” got the most views. “When a Funk Sets In,” got the fewest looks.

This little bit of research made me feel good. I guess we’re all looking for things to read that not only entertain us but give us a good feeling when we’ve read the last line. I wanted to jump for joy when I learned this because that’s the stuff I truly enjoy writing!

I admit my world view is somewhat limited, even though I’ve had a chance to travel and see how poor most of the world really is. But, I grew up in a totally different place, a small town where people didn’t lock their doors and citizens cared about each other. My dad was a volunteer fireman for 30 years and my mother was a Girl Scout leader and Den Mother for many years. I even wrote a short story “A Special Neighborhood Watch,which is about how our special neighborhood took care of an elderly neighbor so she could stay in her home.

I also write about times when violence on television was rare. The divorce rate was low, and children played safely in parks without adult supervision. We rode our bikes without helmets and even suffered through the most common childhood diseases, but we were protected in ways that children aren’t today. Oh, there were still wars going on in the world and politicians misbehaving, but I didn’t know about it. I’m just learning a lot about that stuff now on the history channel!

So, I’ve got my answer as to what to write about for the rest of my life. I won’t bring you fantasy tales of wizards, dragons and werewolves. I won’t bring you horror stories. I won’t bring you tales about forensic medicine or murders. I’ll stick to what I know. A happy life with challenges that can have the ability to crush a person, but through love and carrying there will be a happy ending. After all, that’s what all of you have told me you want to read. And I want you all to come back again and again.

The Joy of Reconnecting

This iris 003morning I’m meeting a friend for coffee. We were associates at Met Life about five years ago; in fact, I helped train him. Needless to say, both of us found out the insurance/investment business wasn’t our forte. Afterwards, we both got very sick, recovered, and have dealt with a long bout of unemployment.

Before he took the same ill-fated turn into the world of insurance that I did, he was a political organizer. In fact, we met in college when we both worked in the Student Government. Like me, he also has a disabled spouse and must take on more domestic responsibilities. Also like me, he spends his spare time applying for jobs online and posting funny pictures and comments on this worldwide communication tool to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. We’ve got a lot in common.

We’re meeting today because he needs donations for a charity fund raiser. So, I’m passing along an autographed copy of my first novel, “Apple Pie and Strudel Girls,” a couple of necklaces that I designed and the painting you see here that I created during my acrylic painting phase last year.

I’m looking forward to find out if Boyd is as happy. Even though neither of us are drawing a regular paycheck, we are working. I like to thin for the better good.

Santa Clause Came to Town

Postman SantaYesterday when Ken went to gather the mail, there was a mysterious card in amongst the bills. It was a Hallmark card from Santa!

I’m a pretty good sleuth when it comes to recognizing handwriting, but this card left me stumped. Even the postmark wasn’t helpful because most of the mail which is sent from Racine goes through the larger Milwaukee Post Office.

When we opened the card, out fell a gift certificate for $200! Ken and I were both were humbled with the generosity someone had shown to us, but as the receiver of such a wonderful gift, we have the natural desire to say, “Thank You,” to the giver.  On top of that, this isn’t the first time we’ve had this dilemma. For the last three years, “Santa” has been sending us such gifts.

It’s truly a shame that children MUST learn at a certain age that Santa is only a figment of a parent’s imagination, isn’t it? When in fact, I know that he lives on in the hearts of generous people and every once in a while, he makes a personal appearance.

Thank you, Santa. I believe.

Angels Coming to the Rescue

AngelToday I’m listening to the buzz of a saw, the popping of a nail gun, and the rattle of a steel tape measure. Yes, we have some construction going on at our house. My friend Scott and his associate are building a wheelchair ramp for my husband. They were hired by Ken’s family.

All of this came about a couple of months ago, when we were touched by an angel. Aunt Lil took it upon herself to organize an effort to help her nephew, “Kenny.” Through her research and fund raising, my husband Ken is getting what he needs to be able to easily get out of the house in his power chair.

Aunt Lil is a sister to Ken’s mom, Dee. Uncle Donnie is another one in the family who took action on this project. They all are a part of a wonderful large family of thirteen. Most of them live in a small Illinois town where they grew up, and everyone I have met are warm, genuine people. The monetary help they have given us can only be repaid with gratitude and thanks, and now we have a monument going up that stands for their generosity.

I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual, and I know when God has touched other souls to come to the aid of one in need. That is really what is happening here, and I am in awe of the power of good.