Sunday, 11 October 2020

Second Thoughts

Like many of you, I've spent the past six months wondering how long this pandemic is going to last. So many lives have been disrupted by job loss, illness, depression, home schooling, lack of vacation time with families, trying to sort our priorities and yes, even the death of someone close. It's been a time of uncertainty for everyone, almost worldwide, and in many ways has brought us closer together as a human family because we are going through similar experiences at the same time. 

I keep reflecting on what it is I should be learning during this difficult and often frustrating time when so much of our lives have changed or come to a standstill. Being semi-retired, my daily routine has not changed as drastically as many. I get up each morning at the appointed time, check my blood sugar and then begin my day by reading from the scriptures and kneeling in prayer to ask for blessing upon the ill, the downtrodden, the sorrowful and unhappy and those making decisions that affect the quality of of our lives during the coming months and years. Then I try to find something constructive to do that will keep me away from so much of what is being broadcast on the news. Much of the time it is our most detrimental source of information because the facts reported are often less-than accurate and slanted in a way that purposefully misleads us into believing something that isn't true.

Since the weather has been nice, and there's been plenty of yard work and gardening to do, I haven't felt quite as oppressed by many of the imposed restrictions as some of my friends who, for various reasons, are not able to spend time outdoors on their own property where someone isn't telling them what they can and cannot do. I've had bumper crops of tomatoes, squash and pumpkins this year that I've been able to share with family and friends, and the flowers have been lovely. I thoroughly enjoy my morning hours outside before the temperature gets too hot. And regardless of the fact that I'm usually too exhausted to do much the rest of the day once I come inside, I  have the satisfaction of knowing that my yard will look good for a few days before I have to start the process of weeding and pruning again. 

That said, I still have hours when I feel unrest, uncertainty and a lack of motivation to do anything other than watch reruns of old television shows, eat junk food or stare at puzzle pieces for hours while trying to figure out how any of them go together. I take care of my granddaughter and her puppy as often as I can, make an occasional trip to the store and take care of personal business. But living alone, I often find myself starved for human interactions that can't really be felt through a text, and email or even a phone call. I long for the day when I can return to my two-day a week job serving others who are not able to do certain things for themselves.

I've looked at the numbers of Covid-19 cases and supposed deaths around the United States, especially in the state where I live, on a daily basis the past few months. I've even tried to understand the CDC's report where it was made abundantly clear that the numbers have been inflated and most people who get the virus will recover with little cause for concern. In my own state, 42 percent of the people who have died from the virus have been over the age of 85 and living in longterm care facility. Of the remaining 58 percent, most of those were still older than 65 with underlying health conditions. That's given me a lot to consider, while still following social distancing and mask regulations because I want to be a good citizen. 

I'm not overly fond of the idea of getting sick with anything. I have a number of underlying conditions and am over the age of 65. That puts me in a high risk category to begin with. But I still took a vacation to see my sister in Missouri and spend all the time with family that I can. I was thrilled when the restrictions were lifted enough that my granddaughter was able to go back to school 4 days a week - masks and social distancing rules still being applied. I hope that will happen for all of our children soon. So many of them are living in horrid conditions and school is the only place where they get enough to eat, feel safe and have someone they can talk to. But with the regular cold and flu season just beginning, I have my doubts about how long that will last. I may be trying to help my granddaughter navigate on-line learning again before much longer.

That's why I decided to share an open letter a doctor in Utah wrote a few days ago. I like to believe our country will soon be  healing from more than just a health pandemic, but it helped me realize that now is not the time to become less vigilant in keeping ourselves and those around us free from illness of every kind. I'm including it simply because it's food for thought and it helped clarify my perspective on what the next few months could be like for a great many of us. Hope your day is filled with sunshine and love.

IMPORTANT!

A letter from Jon Darin Willardson (one of the ED physicians at American Fork Hospital ) he wrote this today for his neighbors and friends and is fine with it being shared if it will help spread awareness...

Hello Neighbors,

I don’t know if many of you know me. I am an emergency medicine physician at American Fork Hospital. I have tried to avoid getting on facebook for my own mental health during this Pandemic. I feel now obligated as one of your neighbors to say something. I am scared and don’t want you to get sick. Things are getting worse in our hospital. Last night I admitted a patient to the last available bed on the med/surg floor and another patient to the last available bed in the ICU. I had to transfer another patient to Utah Valley Hospital and the accepting physician wasn’t sure if he could accept my patient to the med/surg floor at first because there were no ICU beds available there. My patient was close to needing escalation to an ICU bed. The other doctor working with me had to transfer a patient to Timpanogos hospital which is our “competitor” hospital which we have only done previously for very rare unique circumstances. Our other option was to transfer the patient to St. George “Dixie” hospital.

Most of the patients that we are seeing in the ER do not have COVID-19 but a lot do. This illness is not a hoax. If you have not seen its adverse effects on someone personally yet, you will. One of our co-workers that also works as a paramedic and close to retirement is hospitalized now. His doctors are preparing the family as he likely is not going to survive. My patient last night was a previously very healthy 42 year old male that works as a contractor. He was not obese and didn’t have any significant comorbidities. He was swabbed for COVID-19 when I saw him 2 days ago for milder symptoms. It came back negative. Yesterday, he returned looking much worse with low oxygen levels and shortness of breath crying in agony from the other symptoms of body aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. I obtained a CT scan of his lungs and it showed the typical appearance of COVID-19 with the scattered patchiness throughout his whole lungs despite the negative test. Thankfully the illness does not make everyone this ill.

Recently our ER has had longer wait times that are not typical at all for this time of year. Yesterday the ER was full to capacity from 10 am to 1 am. The nurses and other staff members were overwhelmed. That is not a good time to be a patient. The quality of care is not the same despite all we can do.

I know that masks decrease the risk of infection. There has not been any staff that I am aware of that has become sick from contact with a patient in our ER since wearing regular masks for every patient and N-95 masks for known or suspected cases. I am so frustrated to see people blatantly ignore the recommendations to wear masks in public. I respect many of you in the neighborhood for who you are and what you do. I know there are some of you who think a lot of this pandemic is a hoax or not as severe as many in the medical community portray it to be. I do not want to make enemies in trying to correct misinformation. Nor do I have the time to compete with the amount of crazy ideas that come up in trying to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic. There is no valid excuse to not wear a mask in public to protect yourself and others. To do otherwise is selfish and irresponsible. I will refrain to use other words that accurately describe how uninformed and incorrect that belief is.

I hope you do not feel that what I am writing is for political reasons. To be transparent I like President Trump but strongly disagree with his attitude towards this pandemic. I do not want to shut down the country again. I want our kids to be able to go to school and to go trick-or-treating. I do not want to go to work and not have resources or room to treat people. Please try to do something more to help us decrease the spread of this virus.

Sincerely,

Dr. J. Darin Willardson






Monday, 28 September 2020

New Book and Other Things

Get ready to meet Rani Wade – a girl with an unenviable past who is about to embark on an unexpected journey in the mountains of Colorado. Due out as soon as the cover is ready, it joins Brylee, Reagan and Maya as a story of family, adventure, mystery, self-exploration and romance. All book are available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdvMembers of Kindle Unlimited can read all thirteen books already available for free.


I just wanted to tell everyone about what I've been doing the past few weeks to keep busy while most of us are still staying close to home. I did, however, take a trip back to Missouri to see family and friends the first two weeks in September. My brother-in-law will be having quadruple bypass surgery on Friday. It's going to be a rough operation since he also has leukemia and diabetes. But we're hopeful everything will be okay. If anyone feels like adding an extra prayer, it would be much appreciated. 

I saw my friend who is going trough Chemo. She was down to 78 pounds but was able to attend two shows with us and even go out to eat a couple of times. I marvel at her strength and optimism. I also learned that another friend, who just happens to be an incredibly talented performer, has been in the hospital for the past four months. His injuries were so severe that the doctor talked to his wife numerous times about pulling the plug. I want to share part of what she wrote as a way to let everyone know what was going on because it is such an example of love, hope and faith to me. 

I guess it mostly just helped me realize that no matter how down I sometimes feel, there are always people going through far more than I am. Maybe it will offer you some encouragement too. He's a remarkable man who made everyone in his audience feel important. That doesn't happen too often today. I'm leaving his name out of the narrative to help protect their privacy but felt the message was too powerful not to share.

"This year has been very challenging for our family, to say the least. I haven’t yet spoken out publicly about this but I am sharing this experience with you now, with my husband's blessing.


He has been in the hospital for 4 months and still has a very long way to go. He had a devastating fall in May while exiting the passenger side of someone’s vehicle and hitting his head on the road. He has endured so much, I almost don’t know where or how to begin, so here goes. From the fall he suffered his 2nd TBI, a brain bleed, acute subdural hematoma, which required brain surgery. A few days after, he became very ill with infection and required laparotomy surgery for ruptured colon and sepsis infection. About a week later they then discovered he had hydrocephalus which required a lumbar drain to relieve the pressure from fluid on his brain. 


Just when I couldn’t imagine it getting any worse for him, it did. He contracted Klebsiella pneumoniae meningitis - a rare bacterial meningitis acquired post neurosurgery, a deadly brain infection. 24 hours after this diagnosis the surgeons told me he would never wake up. He scored a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is the lowest and indicates brain death. I wouldn’t accept this, I insisted every day they give him more time to heal. His poor body had been through so much. Someone who has gone through so much, needed time to heal. I bought him time, as much as I could, and every day the surgeons would take me in the little private room across the hall and ask me again and again if I understood his prognosis. I did understand, but I was not letting him go. Something inside me told me that he was still in there somewhere. He has too many angels looking after him, and I knew they were there with him. So I waited and waited, and 2 1/2 weeks later he opened his eyes. 


He proved them wrong, all of them...the trauma team, the neuro team, the infectious disease team and palliative team. He is a fighter, he made it, he survived the worst! He was in a semiconscious state for a while, just a few wakeful moments each day. But gradually those wakeful moments became longer and longer. He was making progress, slow progress, but great progress. He finally was able to breath on his own without the ventilator, and they eventually capped his trach, and then removed it. 


A few weeks later they transferred him to a brain injury rehabilitation hospital. He is several hours away from home now which has been difficult, but he is in the best place for his psychological, cognitive and physical recovery. He was making progress and then recently had a big setback. He fell out of the hospital bed a week ago and has broken his hip/femur and needed another surgery. He has suffered so much, I can’t even comprehend all his body has endured. He has many challenges ahead of him. Learning basic life skills again. He is having great difficulty with his memory. He gets confused and cannot recall many memories or life events. He is working hard on this but the doctors aren’t certain how much it will improve. 


I’ve needed to stay strong and focus solely on his care and recovery, help our children cope and just try to make it through each day myself. My entire world has revolved around my husband, his medical care and advocating for him because he cannot. I’ve honored his wishes to maintain his privacy and our family’s privacy throughout. I took a break from social media the last several months and by doing this, some of my husband's fan base have criticized me for “not giving updates”. Well, what can I say, that is just sad. I can only endure so much, my family comes first and that has been my only focus. So posting on FB was not my priority, I hope you understand. I will fight to the end for my family. I’m doing my very best I can to care for and support my husband and our little family, to keep us together and keep us afloat. None of this has been an easy task. And to add to it, the burden of all the medical bills are piling up and we don't have medical insurance for a long term care facility which he will need next. So we are also facing this now.


Thank you to all the wonderful people who continue to pray for him and our family. I have gotten so many beautiful phone calls, voicemails and messages from friends, family and people who love and care for him and our family. I may not be able to return every call but please know I love and appreciate everyone’s prayers and support, and I also appreciate you all respecting our privacy as well. Thank you again to everyone who has reached out personally throughout this crisis. I am very grateful for your love for my husband and for our family. Please continue praying for him, your prayers are working.🏻

Love and thanks ..."


That's it, simple and heartfelt. It brought tears to my eyes just reading it and made me realize how little I really sacrifice for anyone else. It also made me more aware of the people around me and how much more I'm capable of doing if I just take the time. My prayers go out to anyone who is feeling sad, overwhelmed or simply stressed. Life isn't easy for any of us, but we can make it if we stick together and pay attention to others. That's what Christ would do if he was here.


Friday, 7 August 2020

Teacher Fails Entire Class

 I just read this post on Facebook and felt it needed to be shared. It hit me hard and gave such an accurate account of what we will be facing if we don't fight a whole lot harder for all the freedoms that are being taken away from us as a Christian nation. 

TEACHER FAILS ENTIRE CLASS : 

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that she had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on this plan". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Something to Think About

Like so many people I have talked to the past few weeks, I am no loner able to sit through a newscast on television or listen to much the media has to say. The violence, unrest, destruction, hatred, mud-slinging, unreasonable demands and lack of truth has caused the tears to flow more than once. It makes me long for the days of my youth when children were taught to respect God, country and family. When a trip to the Five and Dime for a piece of penny candy was the highlight of the month and children could go to school where they said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, were not afraid to say a prayer before a ballgame or activity and learned about history so they would be less likely to repeat any of the bad stuff. And at home, they learned how to honor parents, work hard for what they wanted and respect everyone regardless of race, religion, social position, monetary assets or disabilities.

It seems like most everyone featured on the news today is in a free-fall state where rational thought has vanished and it's all about personal wants, civil disobedience and the desire to blame others instead of taking personal responsibility for anything. Every time I hear about another Christian value being threatened or taken away it make me feel great pain. I can't understand why anyone would harm someone else or destroy something of value that an individual, congregation or other group has sacrificed to build. And where in the world did all the taking offense to everything come from?

When I get on my knees and talk to my Heavenly Father about my blessings, my desires and my fears, I know he is in charge and things are progressing as prophesy has told from the beginning of this earth's creation. I try to understand how he feels as he watches the children he created go to such lengths to harm and destroy people they have never even met and who are not responsible for what happened in the past. And when I see a church in flames, a family whose business has been destroyed or a dead child being held his or her parent's arms because of some drive-by or intended shooting, I want to rent the air with sobs like people in some cultures do.

I look at the increasing number of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and plagues of every kind and realize just how close we are to the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a glorious time it will be to have Christ reign personally on the earth and have peace restored while Satan and all of his followers are in chains. I look forward to being part of that marvelous experience but am no longer sure I have what it takes experience everything that is coming from the mortal sphere without falling apart myself. My heart is too sensitive, but I have faith in God and know that the silent majority, who believe in the same truths  I do, will let their voices be heard and we will not lose everything of value.

That's why I try to look for and remember all the kind acts of love, heroism, unity, courage and faith that have influenced how I want to view life. I'm including one below because it still brings tears whenever I think about it.

My son and daughter-in-law had been through a very trying year. Her diagnosis of Melanoma Lymphoma, the surgery and treatment, along with the loss of the child they hoped to adopt had hit them hard. That was followed by continual worry about how they were going to pay the escalating medical bills on one income. Then my son lost the tip of his finger when it was slammed into the tool box of his truck at work. And there was the diagnosis that my young, adopted granddaughter - the one they hoped would not grow up as an only child - might need hip surgery to correct a genetic condition.

The week before Christmas, my daughter-in-law suffered a rare setback with her cancer treatment that caused her to forget how to read. Tests finally confirmed that it wasn't a stroke or the Melanoma traveling to her brain, but a disconnect commonly known as cancer brain. With proper care, it was believed it would correct itself and not happen again. But life was determined to throw another irritation at them, followed by an unexpected blessing.

The early winter of 2014 began with a news report of an altercation with a white police officer in St. Louis that caused the unfortunate death of a young, blank man. The incident, not unlike what happened a few weeks ago, was fueled by politicians and the media into a scene of carnage and death instead of taking time for the justice system to do its job. Demonstrators took to the streets and left in their path burning, looting, death and destruction of every kind around the community. The fallout headlined the news for months, leaving many people to wonder if the Christmas season would still bring out the Christlike love that was supposed to exist.

The night following my daughter-in-last most recent setback was spent at her parents celebrating a nephew's birthday. When they they returned to their home a few hours later, they discovered that their snowblower had been stolen from their carport. My son's call to the police station brought a lovely, black, female officer to their front door to take their statement. She was more than sympathetic, but assured them that the snowblower would most likely never be recovered. They lived in a poorer section of Layton, Utah where thefts were common due to the number of drug addicts wanting a fix but not having the money to get one.

It was a setback since a major snow storm was expected to hit the area on Christmas Eve, but my son was determined not to let the loss upset the holidays because of the outpouring of love, help and support they had already received from family and friends during the previous months. He knew their resources were limited but decided he was going to do something special anyway. So when he went to the grocery store after work to pick up a few of the things they needed, he purchased a twenty-five dollar gift card and handed it to the person standing behind him, along the wish for a very special Christmas. He didn't immediately tell his wife what he had done, fearing her initial reaction. But he needn't have worried for she had her own story to tell.

The police officer who had taken their statement had returned while he was gone to see if they had been able to find the serial number of the snowblower in case one was recovered. They hadn't, but my daughter-in-law proceeded to tell her that they could live without it because her husband was healthy and strong and could continue shoveling their driveway and sidewalk, along with many of their neighbors on the street, as he had always done. But she'd wanted him to have it because he'd taken over almost every responsibility at home, along with working fulltime, during the months of her recovery. Due to the location of the cancer, her arm wouldn't allow her to do much.

In due time, both of their stories were told, but they were unprepared for what happened the morning before Christmas Day. When my son opened the front door to run a few last minute errands, he saw a different snowblower sitting on the front step with a note attached to it. In part, it said that the giver hoped this gift would add to their day, but to make sure they locked it up security where no one else could steal it.

What tears of joy this Christmas gift from a loving, protector of people's rights brought. This caring police officer who belonged to a profession that had been blasted as undertrained, racists and deserving of whatever they got had chosen to live by a higher law that proclaimed all men, women and children were equal. Her Christlike love, compassion and service will never be forgotten by the family and friends her selfless gift has honored. May her joy be great, her life long, and her thoughtfulness remembered by God above who will always know what is in her heart. And may we be as compassionate and understanding through these unprecedented days of sorrow and unrest as she was back them. That's what living in this country and this world should be all about.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Nature of Adversity

I doubt anyone appreciates how extensively human life has been thrown in turmoil, uncertainty and a sense of loss the past few months. I've certainly spent my share of days in a sort of numb awareness that has left me with little incentive, or even desire, to push forward with the zeal of the past. Energy has been at an all-time low and anxiety has been hard to suppress. My heart goes out to anyone who is feeling the same emotional stressors. I especially feel compassion and sorrow for all the children who have not been able to attend school where they can grow mentally, psychologically, socially or perhaps even physically during these days when most everyone is just waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I understand that no home life is perfect, many children are in more danger there than anyplace else. What happens to them will not even magnify itself until life gets back to a normalcy they can relate to. My biggest fear is that not all of them will be able to readjust because they were in such a fragile place when the chaos started.

My granddaughter, who will be 12 in September, spent the weekend with me. She's no longer interested in playing simple board games or watching Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake movies. She's also moved passed being able to spend hours playing with the dolls I've so painstaking created entire wardrobes for, or even the Shopkins' village and dolls that used to get me through hours of delightful time spent doing the things she loved. She no longer feels the need to snuggle up by my side while we read stories or watch movies designed for teens. She's even grown past the need to sleep with me at night. All that's perfectly normal and healthy for a preteen who is now more into friends, a cell phone, (And yes, I think she is way too young for internet access given what can be found on it.) writing stories, fixing her hair, playing games like Mindcraft, listening to her kind of music, spending time with her puppy and generally being a little moody.

But she still loves to talk, and I love to listen because I know she will tell me what is really bothering her if I don't shut her down too soon. She's very confused because she doesn't understand what happened to her usual life with school, church, specialized activities and the freedom to come and go as she wants without being afraid. In many ways, she's not like other children. She has social anxiety, along with several other disorders, that makes it hard for her to relate to other people, keep friends for an extended period of time, wear certain types of clothing, eat various kinds of foods, keep her emotions in check or even feel success at school because she can't sit still. Nonetheless, she wants to return to the classroom but knows she can't study and be around other people if she has to wear a mask. And  her parents can't homeschool, even if they felt they had the skills, because they both have to work to provide the necessities of life. It's quite a dilemma for a child to face.

That said, she's stuck in a place she doesn't want to be and is afraid Covid-19 and all the protesting, looting, destruction and murders of innocent people in the name of justice will never end. She's afraid of dying and not being able to accomplish the things she'd like to do. I can't say that I blame her. The effects of what has been happening the past few months will take years to mend and bring to the forefront issues we haven't even considered yet. I've gotten to a point where I can no longer listen to, or watch, mainline media news programming. It is completely slanted and takes away the spirit of peace, love for others and hope that makes my life worth living. While I doubt we will lose everything we value, so many of our freedoms have already been erased. I stand for God, country, family, peace, liberty and all the virtues and principles the Savior taught. I want to do my part in furthering his work. His second coming will be a glorious experience for those who survive the final destruction of a world that had chosen to forget who created it, and us, in the first place.

Along with general anxiety and not knowing what to do to help improve the situation because each word or action can be taken wrong, I have been going through a few minor difficulties of my own. I gave myself a mild concussion while gardening a few weeks ago. Talk about a massive headache that wouldn't go away! I had been working outside for over 4 hours and had just finished mowing the lawn. As I often do, I was spreading the cut clippings around my plants in the garden. It helps fertilize and keep the weeds down. Well, I had my arms filled and wasn't watching where I was going. My toe caught on something, and I reached for the closest object to keep from falling - a wire tomato cage. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened next because those cages cannot support a human's weight. With my arms flailing in the air and the grass clippings flying, I went down, and it wasn't a soft fall. I broke off part of the tomato plant and bent the round cage into almost parallel lines. But it didn't stop there. The side of my face struck the upright boards that separated the strawberries from the rest of my garden. The crack was hard, the pain dizzying, but I didn't lose consciousness. Fortunately, I didn't mess up my eye or break my jaw as could so easily have happened.

When I finally got to my feet, there wasn't a part of my head that didn't hurt and the goose egg on my cheekbone quadrupled during the next few hours. It took several days for all the bruises to appear and several weeks before I could think straight again. I was just starting to feel like myself when I got up on Thursday morning of this past week and couldn't stand up without pain. I don't know what I did to my left knee, but I still can't lift my foot over two inches off the floor without incredible agony. But I'm determined to get through this latest setback, like I did with my head, without seeing a doctor. Unfortunately, the fun just keeps coming. When I woke up this morning, both of my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was having a sever allergic reaction to something. They look like two, tiny slits in my face. On the bright side, my garden is flourishing.  I've been given summer squash and cucumbers away, and it looks like I'll have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year. I'll be picking beans and peas in the next couple of weeks.

But even with the minor adversities I've had to endure recently, I know I've been blessed. I have a dear friend in Branson, Missouri who couldn't go back to work because of the virus, and then her boss decided to shut down his entire theater. The place where she was living was part of her salary, so she lost both her home and her job in one day. She has no family, no reserve income, no insurance and no prospects for work. She finally found a friend who would let her live in a room in the motel she ran. So my friend boxed up what she most treasured and put it in storage. She left everything else for whomever decided to take it. The week she moved into the motel room, she ended up in the hospital hardly able to breathe. It wasn't Covid-19, but she had fluid in her lungs among other things.

Once the doctor got enough fluid out, he found a huge, inoperable lump in her chest - not breast cancer - but cancer nonetheless. When she called me from the hospital, where she was still trying to recover from the first illness, to tell me what she'd just learned she was rightfully distressed. She felt she had nothing left to live for. I gave her what encouragement I could from a distance and she started chemo therapy. (I haven't been through that, but I have family members and friends who have.) When I talked to her a couple of day ago, her hair was falling out and the doctor wanted to add something more to the cocktail she was getting. She's back in her motel room now with a few friends around who are willing to bring her food. The manager took out one of the beds and put in a couch so it would feel more like home, and one of her friends took her to church last Sunday. She said it was where she needed to be. She has an uphill battle ahead, but for now, she's still fighting.

The above are just three examples of adversity that may, or may not, relate to what you are going through right now. The challenges we'll have put in our paths will be different, but with God's help we'll make it through, regardless of the outcome. I trust my Heavenly Father. I always have, even during times when I thought I couldn't go on. But I have to believe that no matter the difficulty, there is a way to survive and even thrive. There is definitely something to learn. My heart is filled with gratitude for people who do so many unselfish things for me and who allow me to do what I can in return. We are all God's children. There should be no division between us. When we meet our maker again, whether or not we believe we have one, there will be an accountability. I want to be standing where I should be when that time comes.


Thursday, 11 June 2020

Still Struggling

Like most everyone I know, I'm still trying to come to terms with all that's been happening throughout the world the past few months. I may not be very outgoing, but I'm generally an upbeat and positive person who feels peaceful inside because I know who I am, why I am here, and where I will be going when this mortal experience is over. I feel calm and basically in charge of my own destiny because I know how to make difficult decisions, stand by myself if necessary and move on after debilitating experiences. I like to look for the good in others, praise accomplishments and mourn with those who are in pain.

But I'm beginning to see life through a different color of lens and that frightens me. I listen to a few minutes of local news, but I'm tired of letting the national media, that is owned and operated by powerful entities with their own agendas, tell me what to think about and how I should react to what is being covered. I taught journalism and radio and television production for twenty years and know the power of the media when it comes to influencing the daily lives of the people it's supposed to represent. While I believe that most of the newscasters are trying to do their jobs in an honorable way, I also know that they are being told which stories to air and which ones to avid. That gives the public a very slanted view of what is really going on in our world. As consumers of information, we shouldn't be afraid to look at alternate sources of enlightenment. Violence, unrest, injustice and everything reprehensible will always propel the news, but that's only because society has become so desensitized that only something truly awful will capture our interest.

That said, I feel genuine sorrow for all people have lost through illness, death, livelihoods, injustice and the downright diabolical intents of people who believe they can get away with anything. But mostly, I remain silent because far too many individuals are blasting out, protesting, and rioting against people and situations before the entire story is known. We do have a right to be heard, but we also have the responsibility to do so lawfully and with all the facts. Too much damage is being done to the masses who have yet to make their wishes and desires known.  My belief is that a hatred, violence and demands made in moments of heated arousal will not solve anything. Only linking arms and moving forward in unity and love for everyone will bring about the the kind of change that will help our planet survive for a few more years. That takes time, the ability to listen and sort through information and the resolve to stay the course of liberty and justice for ALL when things get tough.

I finally got to attend church for the first time in almost three months on Sunday. In some ways, it was a very different experience because things were done differently to help protect others. It was hard wearing a mask and not being able to sit by, or converse more openly with, people I've known and loved for a number of years. But I needed the strength that came from worshiping with others and renewing covenants I had made with my Savior. What a tragedy it would be if we allowed any more of the freedoms our founding fathers worked so hard to protect to be lost. That's so important during an election year when the public will decided which of the men and women running for local, state and federal offices will best represent personal beliefs, wants and desires.

America has always been the land of the free, but I have no doubt that forces are at work to destroy what most of us have always taken for granted. I've been watching the latest developments of the DayBell and Vallow case that has unfolded the past few days just two houses away from where I raised my children in Salem, Idaho. How two people could be responsible for the deaths of a brother, a former husband, a wife and two innocent children is beyond my ability to comprehend, but it is just another proof that evil is rampant everywhere and we need to remember that our country was founded under God's direction. Without his guidance and protection, we will lose what others have given their all to protect. My message right now is for each of us to decide where we stand, how much of what we're being told we're willing accept, and what we're willing to do to preserve the freedoms we love. Someday, each of us will account for the part we played in what was going on around us.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Down Days

I was having one of those days yesterday when introspection became too much. I've been having a lot of those lately. I suppose many of you have been feeling the same way. Listening to the news and feeling so helpless and out-of-control can have a negative effect on most anyone. So I decided to try a technique I have not used for a long time to see if I could get the root of my troubles. They include no energy, inability to focus, lack of interest in much of anything besides chocolate, the need to berate myself for everything I do and the desire to take a nap most every day. That's not like me, but times are different right now, and as members of a global society we've been forced to think about things that have never been part of our lives before. I decided to share what I learned because I don't have what it takes to do anything more useful than that right now.

I went to the dentist this morning with a toothache. After an hour in the chair trying to do a root canal, the dentist figured out that the tooth had cracked close to the roots and would have to be removed. After close to thirty shots in my very sensitive mouth because my tooth refused to deaden, he finally got it out two hours later. Since I can't afford implants it's another partial bridge for me. Maybe this will help with the diet I've been considering for the past five years because now I will have one bridge on each side and they make eating many foods impossible. I just took my first pain pill and will start taking the antibiotic when I can drink something more than water.

We all have fun experiences like that make us glad we have dentists who can help, even if it's one of the last places we ever want to be. Anyway, back to why I decided to write something today. I think I've mentioned a type of therapy where a person writes what the problem is with the dominant hand and then answers it with the non-dominant one. Any part of the inner self can be addressed: spiritual self, inner child, childhood friend. You just need to figure out who might have the answer because everything we need to now about ourselves is there. We just have to learn how to access the information. If you think it all sounds silly, that's okay. I'm only sharing because it works for me. It's a little tricky to read what I've written with my left hand, but it's manageable and has taught me a lot.

Here's how I began. Sometime I have to be a little blunt to get the process going: Dear Inner Self, I don't know where all the anger, self-loathing and lack of focus is coming from. I've tried so hard to stay closer to God, but I seem to have hit a roadblock that is dragging all the life and energy out of me. I can't write. I'm tired all the time. I have nothing to look forward to, and I have no idea what value I am to anyone. I need clarity to move forward. What is driving me to hate myself so much and not be able to see any good? I can't even rejoice over other's success or open my heart to anyone in pain. I seem to have forgotten who I am, and I'm scared of never feeling peace again. What is wrong with me and what can I do to change?

My answer, and it was very difficult to read: Stop punishing yourself for things beyond your control. Most everyone is feeling the same right now. Satan's forces are moving around at lightening speed, and they want you to feel helpless, alone and afraid. They know all your thoughts are turned inward and you won't have the energy to oppose their subtle suggestions. Nor will you have the strength to do any good. Few people produce real change or become truly extraordinary. They only live and let live and do all the positive they can. They feel content with the small beauties God has provided - sun, flowers, family and a few loyal friends. They feel all the raw emotions that come with being human, and most of them aren't noble or endearing to the masses. Pain is real and so is self-doubt. The adventure is to work through it and regroup when you get to the other side. Triggers to negative thoughts can't always be determined, but the pain can be eased if acknowledged and accepted. It doesn't mean a person is bad, just human. 

Accept God's love, mercy and compassion. Know he is real. Let him help shoulder your burdens when  you no longer have the strength left. In another week, month or year you will be on track again and perhaps even understand. But don't beat yourself up if you don't. Just try to do one thing each day that helps you serve or connect to others. Love yourself, and even if you are feeling really down make yourself smile and then listen to or do something that makes you happy. Count your blessings and not your flaws. Understand that this experience isn't the real you. It is just something that is happening to you and will go away if you allow yourself to grieve, scream, cry or even throw something invaluable if you have to. But never give up. Brighter days will come. Anger will recede. You'll start moving around with more purpose, peace will fill your soul and you will feel happy and worthwhile again.

That's it. Some of the thoughts are disjoined but they make sense to me, and the exercise helped. I feel much more positive today. That said, I'm no therapist. I'm simply a suffering member of the human race and know that everyone needs a little help at times. That's why I try to stay connected to all the parts of me. I especially enjoy getting to know the little girl inside. She's quite delightful with a witty edge who isn't afraid to tell me what she really thinks. I wish she would come out to play more often. I miss her and want to be more like she is again.

But it's time to start another disagreeable project. I have a leak in the water facet inside the wall in my basement and have to find a plumber who won't try to overcharge me. I may be a woman alone who isn't supposed to know anything, but I have learned a few things over the years. Hope you've had a tranquil and productive day. The pain killer I took for my tooth a couple of hours ago is really doing its job. I'm not feeling much of anything. Maybe I'll close my eyes for a few minutes before finding something nutritious to drink. No solids for the next day or two.