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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Speaking of time

In 2000 a lady I barely knew challenged me to write something so she could see if I had talent. She said "You can write about how pigs fly, I don't care." The following is the result of that challenge. After reading it the lady said, "if I were a teacher I would give you an A+." The piece was included in my first published effort in 2001 Spirit With a Positive Attitude.

The Most Precious Gift

If you are alive and breathing, whoever you are, whatever your origin, sex or age there is a gift you share with everyone, whether you want to or not. This gift is invisible, has no scent, makes no noise and can't be touched or tasted. It is the most precious gift you have and without it you would cease to be. We all have an equal amount no matter where we live, how much money we make, whether we are dependent or independent. Neither a high I.Q. nor an important job grants anyone anymore of this gift than anyone else.  It can't be loaned, bought or stolen from another.

We all have 1,440 minutes of time in each day we spend on this planet. How we choose to use these minutes is an individual decision. We are not born with a road map or a list of rules. Good or bad, the choice is up to us, nobody can make it for us.

It is interesting how people with titles sometimes assume their time is more valuable than those without. Adults often think think their time is more important than their children's time, simply because they are adults and therefore deserve more attention. Nationality, tradition and training has taught some men that their time is much more valuable than women's time. If the world ended right now none of us would have time left to worry about it.

Every moment of every day we all have the opportunity to help others by sharing a part of ourselves with everyone we come in contact with. If we realized time could run out right now maybe we would find time to be kinder to each other, to smile more, say thank you, share a thought or help another. Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend every moment celebrating that we have it instead of worrying and fretting about things we don't have and probably don't need anyway?

How we decide to use are allotted time is far more important than who our parents were or how many material things we feel we need to be happy. We can choose to be negative, bitter and hateful or positive, grateful and loving; taking all opportunities to help others help themselves.

(Perhaps the lady was right in the assessment of my writing talent as it led to two hard cover books, two newspaper columns, two Amazon E-books and the blog you are reading. Who knew? I sure didn't!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Time to prepare

Thinking about my newest volunteer project brought new meaning to the thought that everything happens for a reason. If the experiences of the last twelve months had not happened I would not be nearly as prepared to take on starting a writing group with nursing home residents. Instead of thinking why me I now see the reason for everything that happened.

A year ago I spent two weeks in a hospital bed being forced to adhere to the rules set by my doctor and nurses. It isn't that they weren't friendly. It is just that I had to do stuff that was totally against what I had planned for my life. For instance, who wants a tube inserted through their nose and ending up in their stomach? Forget about food, that came in the form of liquid coming from another tube. Because of the experience I can now sympathize with someone who fights living in a  sterile facility where personal freedom is challenged.

My next teaching experience started in about January and continued for six months. It amounted to daily back pain so severe that I almost became an invalid before it ended. Considering that I had previously thought of myself as being very healthy, this was quite a shock. Because of this experience I can now relate to people who through no fault of their own suffer with daily pain.

During these lessons I also experienced how it feels to be totally alone with nobody who cared about my situation. My phone didn't ring and no one stopped by to see if I needed anything or just to offer human contact. I went through all the major holidays last year and this year alone. I am sure many nursing home residents have their own horror stories along these lines. My recent experiences will no doubt cause me to be more compassionate.

Looking at the bigger picture I can see that I needed these experiences and the time it took to live them to better prepare for my next adventure.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eyes wide open

I pretty much have spent my life volunteering for one thing or another. It's a way to get an education without having to pay for it. Because I don't get paid in money I don't have anything to declare as income. I'd like to see the IRS take something from nothing! It looks like I walked right into another no pay job with my eyes wide open.

This morning I met with the activity director at our local nursing home to set up the details to start a writing group for the residents. She had made a comment that really stuck in my mind. It was, "They didn't come here to die."

Most residents simply need assistance to care for themselves. Their minds also need help to focus on positive things and not dwell on the fact that they are living in a nursing home. I am very excited that my writing group has been given the opportunity to bring a little light into the lives of the residents. We are also looking forward to hearing the stories that they have stored in their minds and helping them put them on paper so that they will not be lost to future generations.

Personally I can almost guarantee that this will be another lesson in patience and tolerance for me. Like I said volunteering is a chance to get an education- free. Who knows we might just uncover a wonderful writer on our journey. In any case I am entering this new experience with eyes wide open.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Following the bread crumbs

Interesting things happen when you follow the bread crumbs offered by the Universe.

Recently I listened to a story from an acquaintance and knew without a doubt that I was supposed to write about the person's experience. I wasn't sure exactly how I was supposed to share the information, but it ended up being my Sept.6th blog post "Food for thought".

I gave a copy to the person I had written about and she loved what I had created. After making a couple of minor corrections she asked me to give it to the Social Services Director of  Grants Good Samaritan Center. Again I didn't know why I was supposed to do it, just that I was.

I stopped by his office yesterday and we had a nice chat. I had previously worked at the facility and we touched base on employees that I knew. I also discovered that he was a neighbor of mine. During our conversation I mentioned that I was an author and had started a local writing group, Write On People.

One thing led to another and  a light went off in the director's mind. He suggested starting a writing group for the residents of Good Sam who are still mentally alert. I saw the light and caught his dream. What a wonderful idea! As a columnist I had written about a resident, but had never approached the subject from the other way around. The more I thought about it the more excited I became.

Sometimes Ideas need to mature. This morning I realized that I could easily go to the facility and start a group just as I had with Write On People last November. This would only involve me volunteering a little of my time and sharing my passion with the hope of inspiring others to put their thoughts on paper. There was another option that would expand the idea even further.

This morning my writing group met and I mentioned the idea to the members to see how they would react. I approached them with the thought that I could do it myself or...we could do it as a group. It didn't take much convincing to adopt the second option. Everyone saw the benefit of the project and wanted to be part of it. One of the last comments was, "You lead and we will follow."

Residents of nursing homes don't have a lot to look forward to on a daily basis and they are in constant need of the human touch. Just having someone talk to them can make them happy. I can imagine that having others listen to them and believe that they still have something worthwhile to share would do wonders for their self-esteem. I can also imagine the storehouse of knowledge we as a group will be gaining in return.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to be of service to others. Following the bread crumbs can be a win win experience.




Saturday, September 15, 2012

Prejudiced

Because of my life experiences I did not grow up prejudiced against any race or nationality, which may be why I ended up in Grants, NM. While the Resource Development Coordinator for Grants Good Samaritan Center, I went out of my way to include everyone, pointing out that there are more than Spanish and Native Americans who reside here. One of my most successful ventures was the "Ethnic Evening of Entertainment", featuring talent from local residents and even included a bagpiper from Albuquerque. An array of desserts from around the world , provided by the staff and my Advisory Board, was thoroughly enjoyed during intermission.

Not long ago I had the pleasure of having a Facebook friend who is Muslim and lived in Libya. At first we had some problems communicating, but soon enjoyed exploring the differences in our culture and traditions. We also discovered a strong spiritual connection between us. Nora eventually stopped writing and I pray that she and her family are well and safe and did not suffer because of a senseless war.

Although I do not harbor prejudice against people's race etc. I cannot honestly say that is true of the negative addictions some display. Another word for prejudice is intolerance. This again is due to my personal life experiences. The major biggies in this category are addictions such as alcoholism and habitual liars. I believe that both of these negative habits create a screen for people to hide behind. Of course, everyone has their own reasons for doing the things they do and everyone has their own path to follow, which has nothing to do with me.

Summing things up I would say any prejudice I have is not because of how people were born it is because of what they choose to do after the fact. Perhaps that makes me more judgmental than prejudice. I recently found a very powerful affirmation along these lines from a book titled, The game of Life and How to Play it  by Florence Scovel Shinn, originally written in 1925.

"I salute the divinity in you; I see you as God sees you- perfect." Perhaps if we all saw each other that way prejudice and judgement would be eliminated. After all we all came from the same Source.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Second thoughts

Yesterday I wrote about some annoying visitors who rang my doorbell after dark and then proceeded to park in my driveway for at least 15 minutes with their headlights on full blast. My solution last night was to close my front gate keeping them from entering. At first I was going to include a beware of dog sign and toyed with the idea of tying the gate shut. Then I decided a closed gate would send the message I was aiming for.

This morning I thought about my reaction and decided it produced a picture of fear. Is that what I wanted to project? No way! I am not a fearful person and I will be damned if I am going to let some idiot that I don't even know turn me into one.

Although I do have the right to open or not open my door after dark I will take a different approach tonight. If these rude people return for the third time I plan to go out my back door, approach their car and loudly tell them to get the hell off my property unless they want to pay rent! So there people!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Annoying visitors

Living alone in a rural neighborhood can cause caution. I am not generally a fearful person, but as I have aged I have begun to develop common sense for my own welfare.

Twice in the last few nights someone has rung my doorbell after dark. Peeking out the blinds I do not recognize the car nor the occupant. I am not sure if it is a male or female, but I do know it is no one that I know. What they want is their business. What I am going to do about it is mine.

Last night the car sat in my driveway for at least 15 minutes with its headlights on. I almost called the sheriff's office to investigate the situation. What really upset me was the fact that it caused me to miss most of the final episode of Army Wives because I kept checking on the car.

My property has a chain link fence around it with a ten foot double gate and tonight I am closing the gate. I decided against putting a lock on it because if there were a fire or medical emergency it would cause a delay in help. My creative mind went to work and I chose instead to attach a large BEWARE OF THE DOG sign to the gate clearly visible to the street. Now I don't really have a dog, but I could teach my protective male cat to pretend he is a mountain lion if necessary! Anyway just the thought might do the trick.

Ordinarily I like to have visitors stop by, but at night without previous notice it is just plain annoying.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Food for thought

Today I decided to go to Senior Citizens for lunch. Although what was served did not resemble the chicken fajitas on the menu it was good in a strange sort of way. While waiting for the food to be ready I listened with interest to a table mate relay her experience with our local nursing home, Grants Good Samaritan Center.

A couple of years ago now 82 year old Jackie stepped out of her bathtub heard a crunching sound and realized she had somehow broken a major bone in her foot. She managed to summon help and was rushed to the capable hands of a surgeon who happened to be on duty that day. After surgery and a stay in the hospital she was moved to our local nursing home, until she was healed enough to go home and fend for herself with the help of a friend.

Having briefly worked at Good Sam several years ago as the Resource Development Coordinator, I was very interested in what she had to say. Both of my ex-husband's parents were also residents of the facility at different times so I had formed opinions from both sides of the coin from personal experience. I was not prepared for Jackie's refreshing outlook.

She actually said, "I had fun!"

I don't believe I have ever heard a patient make such a positive remark about their stay in a nursing home. Because her only problem was a broken foot she pretty much had the run of the place, with I assume the assistance of a wheelchair or walker when needed. She said she would sit at the entrance and greet visitors. She soon became the official greeter for the facility. She also felt it was her job to watch out for residents who because of dementia were not allowed to leave the building. Adding to that was her duty to get help from the nurses for patients who needed assistance. She said it was her job.

Jackie had only good things to say about the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the facility and the quality of the meals. She made her stay sound more like a vacation than a negative experience. She said when visitors came to see her she was never in her room. Friends had to wander around the halls looking for her.

What impressed me more than anything was when she talked about befriending an Alzheimer patient. This really hit home because it was why my mother-in-law had briefly been a patient in the past. I can remember trying to communicate with her and becoming so frustrated because I had to say the same things over and over. It was like trying to talk to someone who didn't understand English. Listening to Jackie's story made me feel a little guilty about my previous impatience.

Instead of trying to force the Alzheimer patient to come into the present she stepped into the other person's world, wherever she was at any  given moment, and gently attempted to reason with her. Because of her approach someone from administration asked if she had training in psychology. I think she just had training in life.

Although the food was questionable today the food for thought I was given was unbeatable.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A gift from me to me

Labor day as with most holidays pretty much went unnoticed in my life since I usually spend holidays without family. I did have a dinner guest on Saturday and cooked one of my favorite company dishes, chicken Parisienne, cooked in my still working crock pot. Hey I don't throw things out just because they are old. Mixing and matching is always a good idea.

Yesterday, the actual holiday, I did treat myself to dinner out and enjoyed a delicious Reuben sandwich with french fries and a pickle. It was a meal I probably wouldn't cook for one. On the way out of the restaurant I picked up a tiny sample of a mint covered chocolate big enough to call dessert.

Needing to pick up a few things I was then off to visit Wal-Mart, the biggest store in my little town. I explored the bedding department because I have been wanting to replace my bedspread. I had checked some out online, but they were more than I wanted to spend. Maybe just maybe I could find a set I liked in the store. Ask and it will be given they say. I spotted exactly what I was looking for and it was even on sale. An elegant set in rich earth tones now adorns my bed.

It makes me feel as if I am in an expensive motel room without the added expense. I have been wanting to take a vacation!

Two years ago I replaced my bedroom furniture which my ex-husband and I purchased in 1972. It was time, having replaced the mattress shortly after our divorce. The new furniture also coincided with my darling daughter removing me from her life on August 30, the day before she turned 32. I looked at the new furniture I had purchased as a celebration of having agreed to carry another baby at the age of 41. I didn't have to do that. A lot has happened since then on my journey to evolvement.

This morning as I looked at my new bedding purchase Labor Day had a whole new meaning. It actually made me laugh. This particular weekend will always remind me of being in a hospital waiting to be allowed to bring my last child and only daughter home, but this year it's all about me and what makes me happy. Right now the gift from me to me is a very good start in that direction.