Tag Archive | support

The Best of Christmas Everyday

Christmas Party 007With Christmas just around the corner, I’m happy to share what a great life our time here can be. Even with all the hardships of Ken’s M. S., we still find joy in each other as we spend each day doing ordinary things. We are truly blessed with a wonderful family and a stable of faithful friends. Sometimes I wonder how we got so lucky.

Usually people count their blessings on Thanksgiving, but I do everyday. Ken’s wonderful family has sustained us through times when our car was repossessed, there were few groceries in our cupboard, and a pile of bills we didn’t know how we would ever pay. Ken’s Aunt Lil rallied the family together to pay for a beautiful wheelchair ramp our friend Scott Martyn built. Now we can get Ken’s power wheelchair out of the house and into the van that also miraculously came along this year.

Aunts Sharon, Lil, and Rita have sent us checks when we really needed the money. Our friends gathered together to clean our kitchen, which had gotten to the really yucky phase because my arthritis in my hip and knee doesn’t allow me to wash floors and walls any longer.  Then there’s Ken’s brother Steve who has treated us to many a meal out. And who can ever forget our Secret Santa who has sent us extravagant gift cards every year for the past four years.

Through the intervention of angels, we were put in touch with the ARDC which helped us learn about agencies that aid people like us who have fallen into a financial pit because of devastating illness and unemployment. Then there’s the people at Societies Assets who agreed we needed to move our laundry facilities upstairs. Again, Scott and his crew stepped in and built us a beautiful laundry room that will save so many agonizing steps. There’s also the support of the IRIS people who have provided us with Kaitlin who guides us through the government bureaucracy.

This year has been one of learning how to accept help. For a couple of baby boomers, this is a hard lesson because for so many years we’ve stood on our own two feet, not needing such help. For some, accepting help is a lesson in humility. For me, it has been a blessing. I’ve learned to how to say thank you in so many ways.

Even though these trials have come along, so has the opportunity to focus my energy into producing stories and novels. Needless to say, these years of hardship have also been wonderful for my writing career. Teaching basic grammar has strengthened my writing and also given me satisfaction of reaching one or two students. This blog is my 368th post, and slowly, I’ve been able to spread my words and phrases across the world. It is my hope that I give hope and inspiration to other writers, along with a few laughs and joys to others who just enjoy reading what I have to say.

My wish is that everyone reading this post will find happiness inside. Then share that happiness with a friend, a family member, or even a complete stranger because it’s through everyone of us God works his miracles. And believe me, they do exist.

The Value of Friendship Scrutinized

CircleOn Sunday Morning on CBS there was a piece about friendship. The reporter interviewed a group of women from Wisconsin and a group of men from another state (sorry, I can’t remember that part). Each gender group talked about how valuable their friendships were.

Then to back up the unscientific testimony, the reporter PROVED how valuable friends are with a series of medical and university studies–after all, it is a NEWS show. One medical study proved people holding hands with a friend during an MRI showed less anxiety and brain activity, while the patient received intermittent electric shocks, than they did when they went through the test alone. A university study showed when people were asked to estimate how steep a hill was without a friend standing next to them, the hill appeared steeper than when their friends were with them.

So, these studies prove we all do better when we have friends than when we don’t. Dah. That’s a no-brainer.

But remember if you want a friend, it’s like any relationship — there’s a give and a take, a symbiotic part to it. Experts on the program made the point that sometimes friends can become toxic and drain your energy. In such a case, it’s better for you to cut the cord and make a new friend who enriches you as much as you do them. Ending a friendship is hard, especially when you’ve put so much energy into making the friend in the first place. The last thing you want to do is cut them loose.  But sometimes, it has be done. Many times, a friendship gone bad becomes visible when you’re growing in a certain direction and they are not. Just like divorce, the process is hard but necessary. The good news is both parties usually come out stronger for the experience.

Like the women in my books, friendships are my life blood. The people who I have elected to bring into my life are precious gifts. They are my safety nets, my confidants, my helpers, and my companions. We laugh together, play together, cry together, support each other, share our fears, and express our love for each other. They fill my life with beautiful color. Without them, my life would be cold and gray.

My wish for all of you reading this is that each of you have at least one good friend you can always count on. A whole stable of friends would be even better  because life without friends is like an empty Easter basket or a Christmas tree without decorations. Where’s the joy in that?

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.