Wedding Seizures, Incontinence and Going Keto (Kicking and Screaming…)

Sooooo…

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Friday is a big day (for me, anyway).  I’m elated as I type this:  I have been seizure free for (almost) one whole year!!  365 days ago, I wasn’t even willing to hope for this.  But as of Friday, it’ll be in the books.

This personal victory has come at some sacrifice, which as it turns out, hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.

Backstory:

One of the stipulations of being legally able to drive with epilepsy (it varies with severity and from state-to-state) is a mandatory check-in with the doctor every 3 months.  Our doc is one of our all-time favorites (second only to Dear He-Man aka: Doctor Dad) and I trust his judgment.  I went into this accepting that if he felt I was unsafe to drive at anytime, I’d hang my keys up for a while.  It would be really inconvenient but I would figure out a way to go with it.

At this particular check-in, he mentioned the ‘Keto’ Diet and explained how it changes your metabolism and shifts your body into ketosis….

At this point, I ought to point out my hesitation.  I’ve heard of ketosis before.  It’s what happened to each member of the Donner party as they starved to death.  Yeah…ketosis didn’t go so well for them.  Not to mention, when is it ever a good idea to do something because everyone else is doing it?  I mean, I’d be, like, a Kardashian or something.

After chatting though, I decided to give it a try.  But then I got hungry on the way home and ordered french fries for lunch.  

A couple of months and several suggestions from various loved ones later, my best-sister-friend and I were visiting.  She mentioned this regimen called ‘Keto’ for my epilepsy.  AGAIN.  (Apparently, it was an effective treatment for epileptics during the turn of the 20th Century.  With the advent of medications however, the treatment became less advised.)

I started to suspect someone was trying to tell me something.  

I pushed it out of my mind because I had a wedding to help with and I didn’t have time to think about it.  More specifically, my baby brother was getting married.  Since our parents live out of the country and both the bride and groom were from out-of-state, I was tasked with preparing all the food for the reception.  

The plan was going along splendidly until the day arrived.  I had an aura in the morning, then another a few hours later.  A seizure was coming.  The timing was terrible.  I was about to meet my brother’s new in-laws.  (Nothing makes a better impression than incontinence and a large amount of drooling, right?)  AND I had a house full of perishables intended for the masses to scarf down during the wedding fervor.  

What was supposed to be the perfect day fawning over my baby brother and his lovely bride, ended up being a blur.  Anyone who’s experienced auras knows they mess with your mind, your body, everything, so faking normalcy is tricky.  For me personally, it takes a couple of minutes for reality to become distinguishable again.  

Gratefully, I do remember this perfect moment:  It was the first time my brothers and I have been in the same place, let alone state/country in longer than I can remember.  (And no.  I didn’t even bother with my hair that day.  I was barely keeping to together as it was.)

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With the wedding and reception over, all that was left was to enjoy a lovely family dinner.  Actually, not so much.  The Great and Powerful He-Man is wise and knows a thing or two about this sort of stuff.  He put me to bed at 4:00 pm.  When I awoke 16 hours later, (no seizure in between!!) I was determined to take the Keto plunge.

So here I am, many moons later.  My belly is full of cheese, heavy cream, broccoli and just about every green vegetable imaginable (Expect for peas.  Ironically, no peas for me.)  And my brain is fueled by all sort of creamy fats and nutty butters.

AND, strangely enough, I immediately lost four pounds. (Yeah!  Like, totally, a Kardashian?)

Unfortunately, I really, REALLY miss bananas.  And fruit.  And smoothies.  And candy.  Oh..and corn, chips and potatoes of all kinds.

BUT the important thing is this:  NO SEIZURES…NOT EVEN ONE, SINGLE AURA!

Growing up, I often heard the phrase, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”  I have strong feelings about such a ridiculous statement.  Clearly, whomever coined this was a glutton for punishment and probably had a personal vendetta toward puppies and bubbles and all happy things.

However, I just might have to admit that there may be nothing that tastes quite as good as being seizure-free feels.  I’m still in the trenches of field research.  I’ll letcha know…

Cheers, everyone!  Thanks for helping me get through this one!

 

 

 

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‘Bad Day Boxes’ Takes Off!

This post is a follow up of my last post from a month and a half ago, suggesting we start a ‘Bad Day Box Brigade’.

I can hardly believe what’s happened since!  Friends from all over the country pitched in to create Christmas and post-Christmas boxes for several recipients.  To connect the givers and receivers in this particular way has been extraordinary and I’m so excited for the continued effort!

Thank YOU, THANK YOU to those who’ve participated this go-around.  You’ve done a very good thing that has touched numerous people.  Friends from 4 different states, criss-crossing the country, put their love into these boxes AND there’s still more coming!

Here are some of the highlights:

Check out these sweet girls from Florida making cards.  Never underestimate the power of a love letter on a lonely day in January…

 

Louise, our sweet new friend, is a widow who lives alone.  Originally from Holland, she married a POW who survived living in a work camp in the Pacific during WWII.  She loves coloring and was absolutely delighted by the day-to-day coloring calendar.  Her cheerful, bright happy-go-luckyism is a really a super power in disguise.  Click on the individual pictures for some fun facts about her…

(And here’s a lovely little twist of fate:  Her father taught my grandfather and great uncle bassoon lessons….it’s a small world after all!)

 

A couple of weeks before Christmas, a five year old girl fell off a stool.  Her fall hurt her much more than it should have so her parents took her in to the hospital.  They discovered Stage 4 cancer.  Pretty scary stuff for little one (and her family) to face.

We realized the coming months are going to be pretty intense for the entire family so we made a box for all of them.  My cutie patutie cousin helped finish this one up and get it delivered…

 

I have this friend who’s been through a lot in her life.  She’s making some changes and seeking a fresh start.  She’s one of my heroes.  Sometimes change is hard.  Sometimes bad days become worse and are followed by more bad days, making those changes even more challenging.  This one’s for her…

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An amazing thing happened in the middle of all of this.  As I was communicating with friends seeking to support this effort, a friend I haven’t seen since high school (22 years) reached out to help.  After a quick Facebook conversation, I gave her some suggestions and figured she’d send what she could since she lives in Idaho.  A few days later, she was standing in my doorway!  As it turns out, they just moved to practically down the street!

After some quick grub together, we made a pretty snazzy assembly line packaging up more boxes for other families in the area.  Here’s to good things bringing more good things!

 

And if these happy little helpers haven’t melted your heart, check out this delightful gem of a bookmark made by Amelia in North Carolina.  This was received with great delight by a recently widowed elderly woman now within our circle of friends:

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Lastly, one of the most important aspects of this project, other than assuring our new friends they are not alone, is to perpetuate the good at a time when it’s not so easy to find.  That’s the reason for this note.  It goes in each box with a card and a self addressed envelope…

Bad Day Box Letter

Thank you again, SO MUCH, for your help, everyone!  Next up…Valentines for at-risk youth….

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My Plan to Save the World…And How You Can Help!

Oih. These Fall months have been challenging for our family. Small business and self-publishing are really hard. And scary. Sometimes I feel like it’s ‘Us vs. The World’ and I’m ready to put up my dukes. Other times, it feels more like He-Man and I are Frodo and Samwise just after they blew-up Middle Earth’s Mt. Vesuvius while unloading a piece of unwanted jewelry.

You know the part: The world crumbling around them, lava slowly consuming the rock they’ve taken refuge on, Frodo is in serious need of a Band-Aid and some Chapstick…It’s a precarious situation. They finally resign themselves to just letting the lava consume them.

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I include this still in honor of our annual Thanksgiving LOTR marathon.  Long live Samwise and Frodo!

But it doesn’t. They’re saved by really nice, gigantic birds and the end of the story is simple and beautiful and poetic….all the good things. It kinda makes me wish we lived in the Shire…He-Man could be the chiropractor to the Hobbits. I could write stories for Samwise’s cute little Gamgees and we could learn to really love turnips.

But the reality is, we’re here on…um,’Top Earth’? Where we are now exactly where our grad-school admin said we would be at this point in private practice. It’s nothing surprising but it’s still really, REALLY intense. At the end of every month I think, ‘Phew! We made overhead! There’s going to be another month. A few more years of this and our business loan will be paid and He-Man’s patient base will have grown enough to stand on its own.

A few more years of this.

It’s a daunting idea. (Where are those really nice, big birds when you need them?)

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During the past year, I’ve found myself saying (usually with fist clinched to the sky), ‘When we’re finally established, I’m going to know what small-business desperation looks like and I’m going to know exactly how to help…’ OR ‘When we’re no longer terrified of the monthly bills looming in front of us, I’m gonna start an organized relief effort for other families going through the same thing.’

Recently, as I caught myself thinking this yet again, another thought immediately followed: ‘Why are you waiting? Your needs are met. Your family is safe. You are still in a position to do so much more to help.’

Although some of the ducks I would like to have in a row aren’t there yet, I knew this idea was true.

A woman I greatly admire shared a story about a London woman who made quilts for refugees in Kosovo after their Civil War. Thousands upon thousands had died and millions were displaced. With the changing seasons coming on, cold and starvation became a threat as their nation began its recovery efforts. Having driven from her home to deliver her offerings to that particular country, she was en route back when she felt a prompting that, indeed what she had done was a very good thing BUT there was more she could do, specifically for her neighbors and the people around her.  The result became a lifetime of spreading good and hope and joy to others.

This has nagged at me.  Human misery is rampant right now.  It comes in all shapes and sizes.  It knows no limits and wants only to consume those it targets.

I know there is more I can do when those around me are faced with soul crushing hurts but have wondered what/how considering my limited resources.

Recently, I happened to connect with a beautiful family who’s dealt with the trauma of juvenile cancer. Gratefully, after aggressive cancer treatment, their son’s prognosis is promising now. They are an amazing family. Their strength is breathtaking.

In hearing their story there’s an element of it, shared by their sweet mother, that has haunted me ever since our first conversation.

In keeping the many appointments they faced in order to heal their son, their family was introduced to an idea unfathomable to most of us: There are children in the foster care system who endure cancer treatment and chronic illness alone.

My heart can hardly handle the concept.

And consider this:

In the past year, our country has become more divided by politics. Violence and natural disasters have devastated communities and our world has seemed to plunge deeper into despair and depression.

How many of those people are grieving the loss of a loved one?

How many face the prospect of every night alone?

How many people are facing the daunting task of drug addiction recovery?

How many children do you know who feel broken, awkward or bullied to the point they are suddenly and wholly withdrawing and manifesting symptoms with potential consequences that are later unbearable?

How many people do you know whose marriages have ended recently?

How many residents of your local care facilities are getting regular visitors?  Can you imagine, there are many who aren’t?

How many people you know are battling cancer or chronic disease?

I imagine as you read this list, several people come to mind. I suspect you’re desperately seeking ways to ease their burdens too…yet you don’t know how or are afraid your meager offering wouldn’t be worth it?

I’ve milled over this for months and have come up with an idea. May I propose:

The Bad Day Box Brigade’

The idea is a simple one. Mindfully reach out to those around you who are suffering. Realize that usually there’s little you can do to fix another person’s problems BUT providing a moment of relief, regardless of  the ‘Whys’ or how brief that relief such a gift can give, it may help that person or family endure the hardest parts of what they’re going through. I propose accomplishing this through a box of individually wrapped surprises they can unwrap when they need it most.

It’ll look a little something like this:

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This ‘Bad Day Box’ came in the form of a straw bag for a friend going through the hardest challenges of her life:  Cancer recovery, divorce, and a number personal struggles many families never face individually much less all at the same time.

Dear friends did this for us years ago. It brought moments of joy for our children when they needed connection and support from others. I will try never to underestimate the little gestures from this experience.

It made all the difference for us.

I’d like to organize efforts to fill personalized gift boxes of such surprises for those who need the support. This offering can be anything from bubbles to matchbox cars, from chocolate to chapstick, from hand lotion to postcards. Anything to ease the hurt another is feeling.

And that’s not all. There must be a way to connect one another, to prove to those who need encouragement that they are not alone.

To accomplish this, I will be placing a self addressed, stamped envelope and blank card in each box, inviting the recipient to write words of support and love to another who needs it. Through this effort, I believe we can create a network of people who are able to lift each other and help others find the strength to do so as well.

If you would like to and are in the position to help, please join me in this effort. I’m looking for the following:

1. Love letters. Encouragement. Quotes to inspire and enlighten.

2. Small, wrappable gifts for all ages. You donate the items, we’ll wrap ‘em for you.

3. Pretty Boxes

4. Ideas, opportunities for service, specific outlets to reach out to.

5. Teammates!! Let’s branch out. Together, our offerings and potential to lift where we stand increases.

6. Someone to help us design a mission statement and perhaps a logo?

7. Postage and stationary.  Boxes that will be mailed will be around the size of a medium USPS priority package so flat rate postage in that amount would be most helpful.

Please keep in mind, we’re just getting started. If we can organize this effort we have the opportunity to do great good. There is so much of it out there. We can be a part of it. Please, please share your ideas. I want to hear them.

Perhaps the title of this blog is a bit misleading. I don’t suffer from the grand delusion that we can save the world this way BUT I do believe, through well-placed support, we can help save the moment for someone and if saving that moment provides enough relief for a person to get through the day, then maybe ‘saving the world’, at least for them, isn’t that far of a stretch.

Let’s do this…Who’s in?

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Redemption From My Senior English Paper and The Best Celebrity Endorsement EVER!

Remember in ‘A Christmas Story’ when Ralphie anxiously turned his English essay into his teacher?  Remember how he envisioned clouds parting as his teacher read it?  All crimes against proper grammar would suddenly be redeemed and world peace would reign upon the earth?

All because a boy loved a BB Gun.

My last assignment of senior year was suppose to be like that.  Inspired by angst channeled from hours of sitting late night at a dinner table with my mathematician father who wouldn’t let me do anything else until I finished my homework, I decided to write the required short story about a girl who was mad at her daddy….until he catches an incurable disease and dies.

Details are sketchy because it’s been 20+ years but of all my terribly written projects, THIS is the most embarrassing.

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And true to the crushing blow of poor Ralphie’s ‘You’ll shoot your eye out’ moment, my heart sank when I saw my mediocre grade written with red ink, followed by the words, ‘…it was a bit melodramatic…’

I swore off writing for good.

But not really.  I’ve produced a lot of stuff since then.  Only a fraction of it is actually worth sharing.  (Wasn’t it Thomas Edison who said something about genius and the ratio of perspiration to inspiration?)

This fall, I ran into my sweet English teacher at a friend’s wedding.  (Another one of the cool things about being from a very small town.)  We sat together and chatted for a few minutes.  My newly released book came up in conversation and she gave me the ultimate invitation:  She invited me to join her at her book club for a reading.  She even invited me to stay and contribute to the discussion about Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’.

I’m pretty sure Ralphie and I are soulmates.  The clouds parted again.  Here was my chance.  I had the opportunity to redeem all grammatical felonies against humanity.  Well, at least mine anyway.  World peace was in the bag…

And then sometime between the wedding reception and the book club meeting, terror struck.  I started having dreams of being back in the 90’s with my big 90’s hair using words too big for my comprehension at the time.  And it finally dawned on me that I might have to say something intelligent to this woman I’ve greatly admired from the time I was young.  The trouble is, and those who know me best can attest, I crack under pressure.  (If I ever become famous, I pray KSL has lost the footage of my naked interview on the nightly news.)

BUT

I’m happy to report, the night of the event arrived. I wore something conservative and wore my big 90’s hair back in a side bun.  And in a moment I consider one of this year’s best (and quite possibly Top 20 of my adult life), I read my first published work to my high school English teacher.

 

She was as graceful and as encouraging as ever.  Her feedback was positive and enthusiastic and she even complimented me on my iambic pentameter.  (Secretly, I was 17 again squealing at her words.  She couldn’t have known that was the hardest part of telling the story and that I’ve been working on it FOR YEARS.)

These days one might think a teacher relegating your work to the black hole of mediocrity is far from encouraging but I’ve come to realize nothing could be farther than the truth.  Had she slapped an A++++++++++++ on my paper that day so long ago, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been destined to be on an author’s version of American Idol with a over inflated ego, reading an essay that would make me eligible for parole in year 2054.  Her feedback was honest, real and yet, somehow, still encouraging.  It also prepared me to receive criticism that, while sometimes painful, has molded me into a better writer.

I still have a long way to go but I’m getting there.  And I have my English teachers, Nancy Roberts and Robin Nielson to thank for it.

For all of you past students curious about the book club meeting, she was just as charming as I remember.

Her report of Harper Lee’s life, sharing her research and knowledge of the story, reminded me of what an extraordinary human being she is.  Always an advocate, passionate about human rights, she is Scout Finch to the core.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.  And had Lee known Nancy, I’m convinced they would have been the best of friends.

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This idea, further proven by her choice of desserts…She made bundt cakes to honor Calpurnia.

 

Would it be melodramatic to admit the evening was truly one of the greatest honors of my adulthood?

(See?!  I just might need Melodrama Rehab.)

Those who know her husband, Coach Roberts, might be delighted to know that Nancy’s mother collected Royal Doulton beer steins for him.  How appropriate that William Shakespeare and Mark Twain sit with dozens of others on an armoire in their living room.

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Redemption is a funny thing.  It changes the way you view the past.  It might be kinda fun to compare and contrast my work from a lifetime ago.  I might pick up that terrible English paper and actually read it.  I might even read it out loud for someone else to hear.

It’s okay.  You can laugh at it too.

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Dugway’s Class of ’95 and the ‘Bad’ Boy With the Golden Heart…

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Photo credit:  Patrick Wright

It feels like I’ve started this post a thousand times. No words seem quite right. How can they be when you’re trying to convey heartfelt condolences to a family you hardly know anymore?

This year, the now-adults of our Dugway, Utah class of 1995 turned 40. We’re the same age as Star Wars, Bubbilicious and Chia Pets. Weird. I wonder what our 40 year old selves would tell those kids? At least of few riveting stories, I’m sure.

For some reason this time of year always takes me back to those memories. School starting, football season, long nights around our bonfires. Those were some good times we spent together.

There were only a few of us. Around 30, actually; not many when you consider the average size of a graduating class in Middle America. But there is something unique and special about living in such a tiny community. Even though we didn’t all hang out together, we got to know each other really well. Everyone of us found connection with each other in one way or another. And now, though our lives have taken as many directions as there were graduates, several of these people are still among my closest friends.

20+ years later, some of those connections are only peripheral, but we’re still tied together through the relationships we’ve fostered with our classmates. And overall, we still care deeply for one another.

Like I said, it’s a unique dynamic of living in Smalltown, USA. And I’m grateful for it.

This is probably why, when one of our own passes away, we each feel it rather acutely.

Tony was one of the first people I met when my family moved there the summer before 7th grade. The first thing I noticed about him was his swagger and it made my knees weak. I was secretly, (okay, maybe not so secretly) jealous of my girlfriends who shared the commonality of him being their first kisses.

We met at a park by our homes. It was a lazy summer day as the sun was setting along the desert horizon. As a girl previously living in Pennsylvania this was unfamiliar. It was hot and insanely dry but it didn’t matter. I was too twitterpated to notice. My parents did though and promptly grounded me for three years. (It’s okay though. My first kiss ended up being pretty awesome anyway.)

Throughout our junior high and high school years, that swagger became even more charming. But that wasn’t the most endearing thing about Tony. Not even close. He was always really kind to me. At a time when most of us were notoriously petty to people who weren’t like us, he never was. He always said ‘hello’ and smiled at me in the halls.

As the years passed and parts of my body grew faster than the rest of me, he was one of the few who didn’t crack jokes in front of me about my ever expanding chest. Did he know doing so was the fastest way to make a teenage girl feel self-conscious? I don’t know. Was he a gentleman before any of us realized it was cool? Maybe. In reality, I think underneath the heavy metal t-shirts and grunge so enthusiastically embraced by the average teenager in the 90’s, he was a really decent person.

Life, report cards, the reality of approaching adulthood kicked us in the pants a few times and we all kept plugging along. Then finally, the month of May came, the Spring before our lives really got interesting. We signed dozens of yearbooks, made the obligatory promises to keep in touch and said our ‘goodbyes’. Hugs, tears, and the ever important worries of who was going to the ‘unsponsored’ graduation party filled our brains that day as we stood in a greeting line donned in our caps and gowns. In spite of those promises and the very best of intentions, that was the last I saw many of them.

And somehow, it’s okay.

We’ve all gone on to live our lives. We’ve each faced triumph and tragedy, personal improvements and setbacks, and life has kicked us all in the pants again…even harder. But our connection to each other and Dugway has always remained.

Yet none of this prepares you for the reality of mortality. When it comes into full view, no matter how many years it’s been since you actually sat face to face with a person, the fact they no longer walk the earth is breathtaking.

Tony was a few weeks shy of his 40th birthday. I didn’t know him as an adult. We briefly reconnected on Facebook a few years ago before I deleted my account (only to open another for work shortly after). I don’t know what his particular triumphs and tragedies were but there is one thing I could see: He loved his family. In the pictures I’ve seen shared by those who’ve adored him the most, this much is clear. And honestly, is there a bigger triumph than that?

When the time for his memorial arrived, I awoke up in the morning intending to go. But something stopped me. It felt awkward and misplaced to attend. His grief stricken family had so much to grapple with. I didn’t feel I could make a meaningful contribution. So I stayed home.

But now, here it is.

As Fall turns into winter, Tony’s family goes forward finding their ‘new normal’. What even is that after losing someone you love so deeply? They’re facing a lot of firsts in the next few months; first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, birthdays without their daddy/son/husband. I can only imagine the intensity of such milestones.

I guess my meager contribution is to them is this: There are others who’ve been touched by who Tony was, even though we were young so long ago. Certainly, the sadness I feel when I think of his passing is nothing to the exquisite pain they must be feeling. I just want them to know, there are people buoying them up.

Maybe posting such a memorial so long after seems a bit irksome but I’d rather Tony’s family know he has not been forgotten as the hustle and bustle of life has continued for the rest of us. His impact is real and he is thought of so very fondly.

So if you’re reading this and were among those closest to Tony, I offer you my sincerest support. I’m happy to chat and reminisce about what he brought to my life…it was a lifetime ago but still means the world to me.

Peace be with you.

Trish

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‘Look For the Helpers’…If You Can’t Find One, Be One.

Last week was a bad one for a lot of people.  There are many grieving lost loved ones and a community is grappling with the realities of the tragedy of violence.  Sadly, this isn’t new, although each heartbreaking incident leaves fresh, gaping wounds.  It’s enough to leave even the most faithfully optimistic person shaking their fists to the Heavens asking ‘WHY?!’

This was where many of us, glass-always-half-full peeps found ourselves during the past few days.  How could such a horrendously evil thing happen?  How do we even latch onto hope in the future now?

Lots of questions…pretty much impossible to answer.  But there is one thing I am still sure of:

There is still so much good in this world.

Fred Rogers, quite possibly the most underrated superhero of the 20th Century said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

I’d like to add to this, ‘If you can’t find a Helper, become one.’

I have a friend who’s done just that…

Like millions of others do everyday, I hopped onto Facebook recently.  On that morning, the first post I read left me breathless.  My friend, one both my husband and I have loved since our youth, made a brief, heartbreaking statement about the hopelessness plaguing his heart.  I stopped for a moment and thought,  “I’m not sure how I feel about being in a world where Garrett feels hopeless enough to actually post it.”  Whether he feels this despair often or not, outwardly saying so for the world to see means it must be bad.

Compassionate, kind and ever optimistic, Garrett touches people with his wisdom and diplomacy.  Whether he agrees with a person or not, he always seems to find a way to make those around him feel validated.  It’s a gift really, coming from being good to the soul.

In this particular instance, recent racial tensions have brought the worst out in some.  Words that should never even be thought are being carelessly, or even worse, intentionally uttered.  There are people who hide behind their keyboards making vicious statements that only serve to divide our country and inflame emotions.  A few take these statements as validation for acting out in dangerous, evil ways.  

Garrett’s heartbreaking post made me stop and think about how these events are affecting loved ones.  It helped me see that even if those most directly affected by these issues aren’t choosing to publicly lament over them, it doesn’t mean what’s happening isn’t absolutely excruciating.  

Perhaps the most tragic thing about many of these nightmarish events is that they are the result of hate and detachment to the needs of other human beings.

As I reported what happened in Las Vegas to my children, I had a realization:  The most traumatic event I recall from my childhood was caused by equipment malfunction.   That particular day, millions of us, school children of all ages, had our eyes transfixed upon the live broadcast of the very first teacher, Christie McAuliffe, being launched into space.  A teacher.  And now an astronaut.  Certainly, THIS meant anything was possible.  

I remember the anticipation.  It was a bright, clear day as the shuttle shot through the sky.  And then, before we could understand what was happening, the clean line of exhaust trailing the ship suddenly broke off into two, one splattering it’s atmospheric canvas with splotches of gray smoke.  It was only when we heard the desperate cries of onlookers, did we know something was terribly wrong.  

I’ve never thought about it until now, but the thousands of teachers who quietly wept within themselves as they tried to navigate their classes through the reality of what happened, were helpers.  Many of their students were witnessing mortality and death for the very first time.  How many of them were young enough that they hadn’t even had the conversation before?

I’m not suggesting our generation didn’t have it’s share of human inflicted trauma.  Good grief, living in Pennsylvania as a child, one day I was home sick from school.  The local news came on at lunch time and I watched it with my mother.  A disgraced politician was holding a press conference in a court house.  He calmly reached into a manila envelope, pulled out a gun, put it to his face and pulled the trigger.  My quick thinking mother hopped up and changed the channel before the images could be burned into my brain.  My mother was my helper that day, as mothers often are.

Whether caused by man, machinery malfunction or natural disaster, helpers can always be found..and not just for children.

Which brings me back to Garrett.  

In spite of the hurt he has been feeling, the hopelessness and despair, he’s actively choosing to be a helper.  

Right now, our mutual friend from high school is going through aggressive cancer treatment.  Garrett has organized a fundraiser for this weekend in an effort to buffer the family from the financial stress catastrophic illness comes with.  But that’s not all.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria have left Puerto Rico devastated, to say the least.  His response has been to mobilize his co-workers to provide much needed relief to those pleading for help.  22289739_10159360762475433_5249892785035171320_o

In a world riddled with anger and division, Garrett has chosen to be a helper.  

Cynics of the world may choose to mock the simplicity of such terms.  But the reality is there is a childlike ability within each of us to recognize the benevolence of a person who chooses to lift others.  Yes, even the most hard-nosed skeptics can’t deny the hidden superpowers of the Fred Rogers of today. (If you don’t have time to watch the entire thing, watch him conquer the world at around the 6:30 mark) And the most miraculous thing about this is, with a little effort, each one of us can possess such abilities.  

All of this leads me to ask myself, ‘How am I choosing to be a helper?’

I suspect this is something I should be asking everyday…especially on the bad ones.  I’m also feeling particularly grateful for the other helpers who’ve brought joy and relief to my soul when I’ve needed it the most.  It’s changed my perspective at a time when the heaviness of tragedy is hovering over our nation like a gigantic storm cloud.  

To the reader who’s found this post.  I encourage you to do the same.  

And in honor of two other helpers in particular, both of whom, passed from this life last week, I include two of their offerings that have brought me joy and light.

For those within the religious community, particularly those who identify as LDS, here is my favorite address by Robert Hales.   

And since suggesting this as Tom Petty’s best song would spark a great debate I’m not prepared to have, I’ll just say it’s my favorite…whydontcha turn it up?

While I’d never had the pleasure of meeting Tom Petty, I have met Robert D. Hales and was lifted up by our brief encounter.  

Helpers have the power to move mountains.  In moments of fear, heartbreak and tragedy, if you can’t find anyone doing the heavy lifting, start pushing.  

 

Posted in Happy Little Accidents

’31 Days’ Finale: A Far-Away Kiss and Spreading Good…

It’s five days late but we are putting the final touch on our ’31 Days’ Project.

We missed days 25 and 30 (Day 7 too, but we’re working on something for that one.  It’s just taken a bit.

Day 25:  Serve someone in the community.

I was tickled to see Miss Bee got in on the fun…

This particularly task became dear to me.  Several weeks ago, the local news reported on a man who was killed in a terrible accident.  We all know the  people in these stories have families but we often don’t have a connection to those most directly affected.  This time, I did.   A sweet friend of mine knows the family he left behind.

During a recent conversation we decided to create a ‘Bad Day Box’ full of gifts wrapped for each person in the family.  Whenever any of them are feeling particularly lonely for their daddy/husband, they can open one of these gifts.  It won’t come even close to soothing their heartache, but maybe it will help them feel a little less alone.

My friend and I recruited more help then went on our ways.  Tonight I delivered my offering and was completely overwhelmed.  I don’t even know the others involved but together we pooled our resources and came up with something extraordinary.   You know what they say about strength in numbers…

 

Day 30:  Take a picture of a kiss.

And lastly, this may be my favorite.  To top off the month, a picture perfect kiss, compliments of Mr. & Mrs. Bee…it makes my heart all aflutter!  (Bonus for anyone who can identify where they are!)

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While it’s certainly not as exciting, our kiss at my favorite burger joint over the best fries in town still made me week in the knees…

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So there you have it!  The final touches to our challenge.  Thanks for following along.  And Miss Bee, thanks for making another summer special for our family!

 

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