Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bye-bye Things!

The name of my blog is my motto in my classroom as well.  When my students ask what matters most,  I say, "People, Attitude, Respect and Effort."  Specifically, I say that people matter more than possessions.

So, one month ago I received a rather shocking prompting by a wise Heavenly Father that since I was spending a great deal of time driving, teaching, playing with grandchildren, and sleeping and way too much time feeling guilty and frustrated about not cleaning, repairing and maintaining a home I hardly live in, it was time to make the difficult but necessary decision to sell my house.  Since that time, Sam and Terri have decided to rent the house from me while they are here for a 7 week med school rotation, which meant that things had to happen fast!  Before they move in around January 20, we decided all carpet needed to be replaced, both bathrooms needed to be redone, and the kitchen and dining room floors needed done.  Whew!  That means everything off of all floors in the house.  I have 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen--all full of things I thought I needed at one point in time.

Jana has been amazing.  She has spent ridiculous amounts of time over here in order to help me, especially while I've been home for Christmas break.  She cracks the whip, but as I see what I have managed to accumulate over 25 years in  this house, she needs more of a cattle prod than a whip.  My goal was to keep 25% of my belongings.  I'm probably more at the 40% level, but still--I'm pretty proud of myself.  Jana has driven several carloads (like a dozen) of things to various thrift stores, I have thrown away a lot of junk, Bonnie has picked up many, many sacks of books for the library sales (most with the 'library sale' price tag still on them), and I am taking dozens more to school with me.  In a couple of years when Quinn starts a classroom he will have more books in his class library than any 1st teacher in the world.  I say that because once these wonderful books leave this house, they are never coming back!  Of course, I kept hundreds.  It is not exaggeration, boasting nor confession, but merely a fact to say that I had thousands of books before this process started.  Of the fourteen bookcases I had in various rooms, I have taken 2 to my classroom, sold (or have listed on Craigslist) 4 more and will donate a couple more before I am done.

I also like dishes.  I just finished packing up 12 boxes of glass plates, bowls, sugar and creamer sets and other miscellaneous glassware for Bonnie's brother, Scott, to take to an antique store he rents a space in.  Of course, I kept all the really nice Depression glass and dishes I 'love' so his offer to buy stuff he probably can't sell is a gift of friendship as well as service.

We've been selling things on Craigslist (by we, I mean Jana does all the work and I collect the money).  That allowed me to buy a new, used stove to replace my old one, and will pay other bills that will accrue in this crazy endeavor.  Part of my provident living philosophy has always been to buy used furniture, books, etc etc, so it's fun to see items start a new life somewhere else.

Cody has hauled about 30 loaded storage containers out into the garage--books and dishes are heavy--and helped Chuck and another friend, Don, tear apart one bathroom today.  Chuck has also hauled stuff to thrift shops and primed one bathroom today so he can paint it next week.  Cody primed the other bathroom so that Chuck can paint it too.  Quinn helped get the ball rolling at Thanksgiving and Sam's rent while he's here is paying for some of what has to be done before I can list it in March.  Still, Jana gets the crown.  I have to wonder as she learned just before Christmas that she's having her first daughter in May if she thought maybe she'd have a wonderful adult daughter someday who would help her in her future hour (read: months) of need.  I appreciate her so much.

So, bye-bye green hutch, farewell glass plates with stars etched around the rim, ta-ta trains sets and toys, adios Christmas decorations that I have never/will never use, and ciao to clothes I don't wear.  Hello to less stuff to dust, wash, ignore and forget.  But before I get too excited, I will remember what Robert Frost said, not when he was riding home on a snowy evening on a loyal horse I suggest, but while he was cleaning and packing up a house:
                                         "But I have promises to keep,   
                                                      And miles to go before I sleep,   
                                                                  And miles to go before I sleep."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Christmas Wish

Someone at Church read this quote by a now deceased general authority today and I really like it.  It doesn't describe who I am, but it describes who I want to be.  I think it's who we all want to be, but it's harder than it sounds.  It's what I was trying to say in an essay I wrote a few years ago about second chances.  That essay was on my old blog that I can't add things to anymore, but I've copied it and added it below Brother Ashton's quote.

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.

None of us need one more person bashing or pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we're trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses. What ever happened to giving each other the benefit of the doubt? What ever happened to hoping that another person would succeed or achieve? What ever happened to rooting for each other?”

Marvin J. Ashton
For several years, NPR encouraged listeners to write an essay titled, This I Believe. So I did. I did not however, send it to NPR like I wanted to. But here it is:

This I Believe

I believe in second chances. Not necessarily the kind that romance novels tout, although who can’t applaud that, but second chances in all respects. Rooted in a belief in redemption, my hope is that all of us hold fast to knowledge that few mistakes are fatal, nor are many first attempts completely successful.

My students roll their eyes when I remind them that I expect not just one edited draft, but several, before they turn in that final offering. No matter how good your first draft is, I nag, your second and third will be better.

Still, it’s not with student essays that my hope for second chances resonates any more than for new love. My deepest, most abiding hopes are for those who have taken a path that is in a slow or quick descent. Too many of these people have been led to believe that their journey is one way—there is no way back to higher ground. Too many others, watching them make these mistakes, turn their backs on loved ones, broken-hearted but resigned to what they fear is a hopeless cause.

I reject that negative approach. I reject the cynicism that perpetuates the idea that people never change. I acknowledge that these doubts often develop through seeing a loved one improve only to regress again. Perhaps I should admit that I believe in third chances and twentieth chances. I should also acknowledge that in the large collection of light bulb jokes I’ve heard, my favorite is the one where we are asked how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb. Only one, the teller responds, but the light bulb has to really want to change. It is an absolute truth that we cannot control another person or their choices.

What we can do, however, is give each other permission to become better people. I believe in suspending doubt, even though the softened heart that results might get bruised. I believe that while we might be culturally or chemically predisposed toward certain weaknesses, we are not powerless to change. Some weaknesses are relatively easy to eliminate—chewing gum with your mouth open or using words that are inappropriate or inflammatory come to this teacher’s mind. More difficult to amend are substance abuse addictions or long held, childhood learned prejudices. Still harder are habits that harm or exploit others.

Some people will need extensive help and may even need a space away from the general population. Would that our corrections departments truly believed in second chances. Far too many employed in these programs have hardened their hearts to the point that recidivism is expected.

I believe in our ability to stand up after falling and to climb out of the depths in which we are mired. I believe that we are stronger than we acknowledge, but that we need others to believe in us as well. Call me crazy, I believe that Miguel de Cervantes gave us Don Quixote as a role model. I’d rather be accused of being delusional while encouraging a Dulcinea than be sensible and give up on people.

I teach teenagers, I mother my own children, I associate with much loved friends and family, and I look in the mirror at least once a day. I believe in second chances. I depend on them. I rejoice in them.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lightening My Load--Literally

One of the ways I'm going to handle selling my house and most of what's in it is going to involve writing about it.  Bad news for my blog followers.  Good therapy for me.

Thanksgiving break:  Step one-- Quinn and Jana help me get rid of stuff in my garage.  Most of it was from a garage sale that Cody held in the summer.  Some of the items were given to him by friends who were decluttering as well as things we were getting rid of.  So now it's gone on to thrift stores along with a few more things I won't ever use again.  We also threw away stuff.  Not valuable stuff.  Just junk. 

Step two--Jana and Chuck came over today to start in on the house.  We packed up two or three boxes of VHS tapes. Harder than I expected.  Not that I would have probably every watched most of them again, but I liked looking at the titles of my favorite movies.  It was proof I'm not a hoarder though.  When it came down to it, I waved all but a few goodbye.  My facebook post:   Took a step into reality today and packed up almost all of my VHS tapes. Fine, I watched other people do it for me. Kept a few: It's a Wonderful Life, Chicken Run, Waking Ned Devine, Wallace and Grommit, A & E Pride and Prejudice--you know, just the essentials. The rest will be at a thrift store near you!

We also packed up a ton of fabric I was sure I'd make quilts out of someday and games I haven't played in years.  Even a few tablecloths--not all, this is the first time through.  When I realize how much a storage unit is going to cost and how quickly it will fill, I'll go through everything again.

Tonight I'll start on Christmas bins.  My strategy will be that every Santa or Snowman figurine I get rid of will mean one more nativity set I get to keep.  The last count of Nativity sets was 60.  Some are tiny!

I know why most people make their children do this after they die.  I'm not a hoarder, but I'm a collector.  As I say to my students:  We can do hard things!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgivings Past and Future

I've always been a nostalgic writer.  I've had three blogs in mind to write over the past several months, but here I am, writing on Thanksgiving as memories of past years and thoughts of the future fill my mind.  Plus, I have to do something--I woke up too early and am midway through making my layered jello salad and can't go back to sleep.  I've watched numerous you-tube videos with David Tennant and had previously finished all of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books (sorry, Kate Morton--we can still be friends, but I have a new favourite), and I'm too tired to do anything productive like grade papers.

This year is my last Thanksgiving in my house and Thanksgiving isn't even at my house.  This Christmas will be my last Christmas in my house, but I won't have Christmas at my house either.  My house will go on the market this spring after I have packed away what I love into storage--about 20% of my belongings--and I will move on to the next phase of my life.  It was a very difficult decision for me, wrenching in a way, and there will plenty of tears shed during the next several months.  It's not what I want to do; it's what I need to do.  No one is pressuring me to sell my house, but no one is arguing with me either.  The impetus to do it came about both gradually and abruptly.   I have considered it in the past, but it was less than a week ago that a sudden awareness during prayer led me to believe it was time.

Allow me to wallow in past expectations for a moment.  Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived in the same houses their whole lives.  I only knew my mother's parents, but visits to their house were the stuff of childhood memory.  I even wrote a tribute to my grandmother called "Over the River and Through the Woods."  Oddly enough, I wasn't that sad when my mother sold my childhood home.  The lilac and snowball bushes were gone, but I would miss the vine covered carport and the new addition of raspberry bushes and the jam my mother made from their bounty.  Of course, I was 40+ years old and it meant that she could move to Boise where one of my brother's and I live.  She was happy in her new residence and my children loved visiting her with great frequency (weekly if not daily).

I moved into the house I live in about 25 years ago.  It's where I lived when my last child was born.  It is where I taught preschool for some 15 years.  It's where my mother came to live her last few days of mortality.  A positive memory, if tinged with sorrow.  It is where my children grew up and every inch tells a charming or hilarious story of the joy of their early years.

This house is also where my marriage died a slow and painful death, where my oldest son spiraled down into depression and then addiction and where I weathered unemployment and my own days of depression.  Those events could have ruined any positive memories, but the incredible love I received from my friends and neighbors during those times made my house all the more loved.  With the divorce came an opportunity to re-establish who I was and as I covered my walls with hearts and flowers and pictures of children and grandchildren and hung lace curtains at my windows, my house became a refuge.

My property is covered with trees, rose bushes and dreams of beauty--and a couple of pet burial places.  Of course, I can't afford to maintain the trees, so my church family has paid for necessary removal of dead and dangerous trees.  My roses don't get enough sun or attention, so they aren't magazine cover material and the dreams of landscaping remain dreams one hot summer after another.  My neighbors will be happy to welcome homeowners with time, energy and money.  Which is the salient point of this decision.

When I took the teaching job in Hansen 3 years ago, it was not meant to be permanent.  One hundred and twenty miles from home is not a good commute.  This year I am living in my third weekly 'home away from home.'  For the third year in a row, I rent a room.  The first two years it was the upstairs and then the downstairs of an older widow's house.  She is very pleasant and was happy for the extra income.  This year it is the downstairs of a much older widow's house; she is also very pleasant and happy for my paltry company at the end of long days at school.

It turns out I like my job in Hansen.  It just doesn't pay enough to continue this lifestyle.  I make about $7,000 less than I did in Boise and Nampa.  Given rent, gas costs and the necessity of a reliable, comfortable car, I can't do it.  I borrow money intermittently from friends and family.  I pay it back, but it's embarrassing.  My house needs repairs that I can't afford.  Meanwhile, my cats have overtaken the place in response to being neglected.  They shed; they don't always use the litter box.  My son lives here part-time, but despite his best intentions, my house has become more and more dusty and cluttered in my absence.  No one comes on a regular basis except the ever loyal Farnsworths and I'm pretty sure they're okay with not having to worry about my frequent neediness.  I'm not even home enough for my grandchildren to hang out here on a regular basis.  I so very much wanted it to become a 'grandmother's house' where my family gathered, but that has not been the case and for many reasons will never happen.

But I digress and sink into a deeper than necessary pit of self-pity.  For, as is almost always true, there are plenty of open windows involved in the closing of this particular door.  First of all, I will be free of financial strain.  I plan to continue to be a gypsy during the week and live in rented rooms.  On weekends I will stay with my daughter, her patient husband and their adorable children.  Summers?  Who knows?  Maybe a week here, a week there.  Maybe Scotland in a year or two when I've paid off doctors, car loans and have a bit in savings.  And most importantly, I will be ready to serve a mission in a few years when I retire.  It has been my desire to do that since I was 21 and owning this house would have prevented that from ever happening.

Eventually I'll buy another house.  A smaller one.  Maybe I'll even have one cat to live there with me.  Up will go my lace curtains again, and out of storage will come the 20% of dishes and furniture I love and my grandmother's double wedding ring quilt.  And more memories will be made!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's Kate Morton's Fault

In the Biblical parable about talents, where talents are a monetary unit, people are questioned and assessed as to how they used the talents they had been given.  Did they invest well?  Did they increase their original bestowal?  Or did they bury their gifts in the ground fearful of losing what they had?

In most modern interpretations, talents become actual talents and we are expected to increase and illuminate our gifts.  So, for the record, here's my future answer to the assigned assessor concerning how I did.

           "What were your talents, Pamela?"
           "Working with kids and writing."

           "That's it?"

           "Hey, we were told it didn't matter how many we were given."

           "Oh, yes, that's right.  So, what did you do with them?"

           Sensing how this discussion is going to end, I begin strong, "I started teaching developmentally delayed preschoolers when I was in high school, graduated with a degree in Child Development in college, gave birth and did my best rearing four lovely children and  later did my best at grandmothering (which I know won't count because it was so much fun, but I went for it anyway), opened a private preschool, went back to school and received a teaching certificate, and then taught school, mostly middle-schoolers, I will add, hoping for extra credit, until  yesterday when I died."

           "Okay, not too bad."

           Great, I think, a former English teacher is my assessor.

           "How about the writing?"

            I know immediately that none of my paltry successes are going to impress this person, since they don't particularly impress me, so I go with the decision I made back in 2013.  "After reading one Kate Morton book and listening to a second, I decided I would rather read and reread her books than make any attempt to write again."

            "Oh, I completely understand.  Was The Forgotten Garden your first one?"

            "Yes, and then The Distant Hour."

            We then spend a lovely afternoon talking about how absolutely awesome Kate Morton's books are.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Clyde Earl Hunter

It's a special day.  Most people I know are doing something today to honor the fathers in their lives.  Unfortunately, my father lives somewhere else.  Not here . . . on Earth.  So, as I did on Mothers Day, I will honor him posthumously in this blog.  Because, boy do I have a great dad!  And I love him so much--I was a lucky little girl.

I was his groupie; I followed him around everywhere.  It was with his permission and invitation, I now realize.  Many fathers are quite successful at ditching their children.  He took me golfing, shopping, driving, used bookstore browsing (where we looked for books, not bookstores, to buy--he bought westerns; I didn't) and I helped paint his new classroom and organize papers when he started a new career when he was in his forties.

I was about 15 when he was hired to teach in Murtaugh, a farming community about 15 miles from Twin Falls.  I think it came about when he was golfing one summer.  Someone said, "Hey, Clyde, we need a Vo-Ag/Shop teacher.  Want to do it?"  "I don't have a teaching certificate."  "You have a Masters degree.  We can make it happen."  And so they did.  He took some classes at CSI and taught with a LOA (letter of authorization) for a year or two.  So, while I went to high school in Twin and then to BYU, he went to 9th through 12th grade over and over every year.  The spring I graduated from college, he left teaching.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April and died in August.  He taught for 7 years and was as happy doing it as the students and other teachers were that he did.  I have been a teacher for 11 years and also started this second career in my forties.  I guess I'm still following him.  (The stories I have heard about him from former students echo the stories my former students tell about me--go figure that we're both known for telling funny stories!)

My dad whistled.  A lot.  Everywhere.  Me too.  A lot.  Everywhere.  I also hum.  I'm not positive about whether my dad hummed or not.  I think he was too busy whistling.  Here's how else I'm like my dad, in no particular order:  Sway backs.  Round noses.  Arched eyebrows.  Joke telling and appreciating.  We talked a lot.  (In fact, once when I was young and we were driving to Utah to see family, he offered me 5 cents if I could be quiet for 5 minutes.  I earned no money that trip.)  Solitaire playing. (He used actual cards, I use the Internet.)  Reading.  I also play golf, but instead of 5 days a week in the summer, I play once or twice.  The whole summer.   I play with one or both of my brothers.  We walk around the course playing The Clyde E. Hunter Memorial Golf Tournament, quoting his advise to us:  "Keep your d*** head down, Pam!"  "The saddest words I've heard today; it's your putt, you're still away."  "Pam, keep your head down!"  "Always let people play through."  "Shhh!"  "Replace your divots."  "Seriously, Pam, we'll watch where the ball goes.  Keep your head down and follow through."  "If I had your luck, I wouldn't need a license to steal."  "Nice shot, Pam!  See what happens when you keep your head down?"

He had other great one liners too.  When I stood in front of the TV, "You make a better door than a window."  When one of us was laughing over something silly, "Little things amuse little minds."  When we made an excuse for why we didn't do something, "If frogs had wings, they wouldn't get their fannies wet hopping through mud puddles." (Thanks to my brother Larry for that one--I don't remember it--I probably did everything I was told.)  I guess I lied a bit though because he had a whole repertoire of those--"You'd lie if the truth sounded better."  "You lie like a rug."  "You know, you can go to Hell for lying just like for anything else!"  "You lie just hear your own voice."

He taught me how to play gin rummy; he tried to teach me what different crops looked like.  Everything looked the same to me.  I couldn't tell the difference between sugar beets, beans and potatoes, wheat and other grains, hay bales and straw.  I usually got corn right.  He gave up.  I was pretty good at gin rummy, after all.

Mostly, he taught me things I didn't know he was teaching me.  My best friend in 5th grade was Japanese.  As a WWII vet, he could have said things that might have made me feel differently about her.  In fact, I don't remember him ever saying anything about any group of people that indicated one color of skin was better than another or that one nationality was superior.  Just a few years ago, I learned that some of our neighbors were having serious marital problems and that police were called from time to time.  My parents never talked about it.  Their daughter, one of my best friends back then, told me at a conference we both attended.  I guess my parents didn't think it was my business or that gossiping about neighbors was a worthwhile activity.  One day, after a long day of teaching school, he came up to me and simply thanked me for being such a good kid.  He treated me like that all the time.  I never doubted his love for me and always felt that he was proud of me.  When he introduced me to his friends, I could hear it in his voice.

I wish he had lived longer.  I wish he had met my children in mortality.  I wish he were around to call me Suzy Q again.  I wish I could hear him whistle. 

Miss you Dad.  Love you lots.  Thanks for being a great dad.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Carma Leila

I have a wonderful mother.  She no longer lives in the same sphere as I do, and I miss her, but there is no doubt in my mind that she is happier where she is.  She would have been 89 this year and she would not have enjoyed it.  Still, had she lived a few more years, I would have appreciated it.  Of course I would have; she took incredible care of me and I probably took advantage of the fact, youngest child and only daughter that I am.

Some of my favorite memories:

When we went to baseball games to watch Larry, she would draw pictures for me.  I realize now that she was very talented.  I wish I had some of those pictures now.

She would wash my hair by putting the ironing board up next to the kitchen sink and letting me lie on it while she washed my hair.  Just when I was little.  Later I would bend over and put my head in the sink.  She always made my hair look cute even though I complained constantly when she combed out tangles.

She rubbed my back.  I wouldn't be surprised if she did it every night.  I loved it.

She won a "Make it With Wool" contest in 4-H when she was 16.  She won the state contest and got to go to Chicago.  She told me once she was never proud of the honor because it wasn't perfect and her mother tore some of the stitches out and put them back in.  I don't know what the reality is, but I'm sure my mom did 99% of the work and deserved the prize.  But she didn't think she did and didn't enjoy sewing in her adulthood.  She made clothes for herself, though and I think she knew how talented she was.  She made the most amazing doll clothes for my Barbies.  I still have those.  For a woman who said she hated to sew, it's incredible to see the little tiny zippers and buttons on pants and shirts and sequins on formal dresses.  She later made cabbage patch clothes for her grandchildren's cabbage patch dolls.  She also made dance costumes for me every year while I was in elementary school, awesome bedspreads and curtains for our bedrooms, clothes for me in elementary school and junior high (she was probably relieved when I could wear the sizes Ropers carried). She made a quilt for me when I got married, the tablecloths for my wedding reception, and a Temple dress for me to wear even though she didn't have a Temple recommend. (She does now!) She made bridesmaid dresses for me when my friends got married, maternity clothes when I was pregnant and the cutest 'jams' ever for my children when those wild knee length shorts were popular.  She made quiet books for grandchildren to play with in Church. I'm forgetting everything she sewed for us, and I don't remember hearing her complain, but I'm old enough now, finally, to realize how much work everything was.  To do something you don't love to make other people happy is a characteristic that my mother demonstrated very often.

She worked for an unkind boss so my brothers and I could go to college and have material comforts my father and she never had.  The week after I gradulated from college, we went to the bank and she paid my entire student loan for me.  This is when my father was dying from cancer and she could have saved the money for herself and the future.

I never saw her happier than when her grandchildren started arriving.  Since I was her closest confidant by then, I heard everything she said about them.  "Risa is so petite and cute!  Ryan looks just like Larry!"  When they got older, "Janessa is so beautiful! Justin reminds me of me--he's shy and sweet!"  "Bryn plays the violin now--she's amazing! Oh, I love David's curly blond hair--he's just like his dad when he was that age."  Amanda and Andrea were perfect--she loved it when they visited her when she moved to Boise--"They are so cute!  Amanda is like you were--chatty and full of life.  Andrea is quieter!"  Well, she was then!  She loved hearing all of them play their instruments--none of her own children were musical, so she was so proud of her grandchildren who were.  She loved my children and much as I did and because essential to me as I stayed in a difficult marriage.  She took us on car trips to see their cousins.  She did Christmas shopping with me, she attended all of their sports events so I didn't have to go alone. 

She was my best friend even though I was more like my father.  I told jokes and read while I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Maybe I was a comfort after my dad died at 53 years old.  She was definitely a comfort to me as I navigated through raising children on my own.  I wasn't able to be the mother she was to me in all ways, but I'm doing my best to be the kind of grandmother she was. 

Love you Mom!  I know when your spirit hovers near me and am eager to spend time with you again.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking the hint or heeding a prompting?

Either way, it's a good idea.  A few days ago, my daughter blogged about blogging.  It was very good, as are all of her blogs.  She's a writer.  She needs to write.  'Tis her fate to write.  Seriously.  She could go pro, but she's busy doing what she does even better than writing--mothering.  Her blog encouraged others to write, to blog specifically.  She reminded all of us that we have stories to tell and important events to record, and that it doesn't so much matter how we write, but that we write.  Easy for a gifted writer to say.

Today at church, we had two speakers who also spoke about the importance of keeping records. One speaker read from his journal.  It was a nice entry about his little boys and how they tend to learn by experience instead of instruction.  Something about not believing their dad when he told them that breaking up chunks of obsidian will create sharp, jagged pieces that might cup fingers.  Two boys and four cut fingers later, they believed him.  It will be a journal entry read over and over and will probably be used in upcoming talks by various members of the family.

I am also a writer.  Or was.  No, I still am.  I started writing when I was in elementary school as my daughter did, and I, too, may have been able to go pro had I dedicated more time to the prospect.  Whether it is that frustration of a dream not fulfilled or not believing that my stories, real or imagined, matter anymore, I have stopped writing.  It's time to start again.

I also agree with my daughter.  We all need to consider putting our stories into some format that will last.  Journals are fine, blogging is great, and even scrapbooking can be a valid form of family history.  It all has value.  We gain perspective and clarity when we write and looking back on those writings can often add even more clarity in hindsight.  I'm also old enough to have multi-generation experience with diaries and journals.  I'm grateful for my grandmother's diaries and moreso her family histories.  I'm relieved that I interviewed my mother and wrote a short history, because she was not a diary writer.  I actually believe that my grandchildren and even my children may read my various journals some day with appreciation.

So, I think I'll take the hint; follow the prompt.  I have several journals I can add to, a dozen unfinished scrapbooks, numerous creative works in progress and this blog.  Thanks everyone.  I feel better already. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Multiple Sclerosis

A little while after my MS diagnosis, someone gave me a book called Taking Charge--Overcoming the Challenges of Long-Term Illness.  I looked through it.  It was depressing.  I decided I didn't need it since my MS was never going to be bad.  According to me. And since my neurologist still is pleased as punch that I can walk two or three miles with only a little left leg weakness (actually quite a lot of left leg weakness--I limp by the time I'm done and I walk really slow), it's easy for me to keep believing I dodged the MS bullet.  And I did in so many ways.  At least so far.  Hey, I don't use a cane.  I don't use a walker.  I don't use a wheel chair.  Things could be so much worse.  But, it doesn't mean I don't have MS.  I have plenty of symptoms.  Mostly invisible to most people.  I need to read the book.  I'm having a really hard time right now that I feel guilty that I can't do everything I used to do and I'm tired of pretending I can.  I've actually convinced the most important people in my life that I must just be lazy and that's why I don't do everything.  I also fear I may need to cut certain things out of my life--owning a home and pets, for example.  Oh, well.  What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.  Or sadder.  The challenge is to still be me in the best way I can.  Heavenly Father will help.