27. Find Some Hope to Hold Onto

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson

I had a great-uncle who was a postman.  He also happened to be a  healer and psychic.   I remember him and the wonderful conversations we used to have.   When I was very young,  somewhere between four and six years old,  we would sit in my aunt and uncle’s kitchen,  eat cookies and just talk.  It seemed very odd to have an adult sit and just talk to me and be so interested in what I had to say.  I loved to talk to him.  

One day,  a full year after I had been diagnosed with ALS,  I decided to look him up.  I hadn’t seen him in years.  He lived in a small community of psychics, healers, and mediums called,  Camp Chesterfield.   One weekend,  my mother and I found his address and drove over to see him,  but he wasn’t home.   So,  we visited the local bookstore, and the community office where I was given a list of all residents and their gifts (psychic, healer, medium, etc).  Since I was already there,  I thought I might as well try and get a reading.   So,  I had the office secretary call a lady listed as a psychic and medium to see if she had time for one.   She did.  I had never been to a psychic before, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed at the time.  She told me, among many other things,  that she had a message from my former pastor.   She wanted to tell me that my illness was just something I had to go through.  After months of tests, doctors, and doom and gloom, those few words were such a comfort and source of hope.  I just had to go through it… to me,  meaning there was hope of getting through it,  or living with it.   Reverend Clara Maye Rippel always knew the right thing to say!

I will never understand  why some medical professionals are afraid to offer what they call, “false hope”.   Hope can never be false. Sometimes all you need is a little hope to make a huge change in your life.  There are stories out there about someone who has survived every illness, and every terrible situation you can imagine.  If someone else can survive what you are going through, or worse, then you can too.  

 

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25. You Are Never Alone

I have a beautiful wooden clock that my grandmother gave me,  that was made by my grandfather.  It was a kit,  I’m sure.  A mantle clock,  one that you have to wind once a week to keep it going. It chimes on the quarter hour.  I love it,  because of who made it,  and the memories it holds.  I am not the best at keeping it wound.  Since I can’t do it myself (you know,  because of the whole ALS thing) ,  I have to remember to have someone else wind it for me,  and since I often forget,  this also means setting the clock.   You are supposed to set it by stopping every fifteen minutes to allow it to chime,  and then continue on until you reach the correct time.  This rarely happens.  Or,  one of the three spots it needs wound will remain unwound,  there’s always something,  and the clock gets off kilter and chimes the wrong number of times when it chimes,  or just doesn’t chime at all.  It may be two o’clock,  and my clock will chime ten times,  because we have screwed it up,  and it thinks it’s ten  o’clock.  Or,  it is quarter after the hour,  and my clock chimes as if it is half past the hour.  You get the idea.

I love clocks.  I have four in my family room alone.  I have another mantle clock that is much older,  from the late nineteenth century, and it also must be wound to keep time.  It chimes on the hour and half hour.  I have had it worked on,  and it keeps perfect time.  If you wind it properly.  We rarely do.  So,  as you might guess,  it is rarely chiming the correct number of times to match the hour it reads.  It is a real pain to reset a clock like this to get it chiming two times at two o’clock,  and three times at three o’clock,  etc…  But,  I noticed something odd not long after I started using my grandfather’s clock.  No matter how much we screw it up,  it somehow resets itself.  It may be midnight and it will  chime as if it is only 5:30,  because we finally wound it after days of letting it wind down.  And,  by the time I notice it chiming the next day, it has somehow corrected itself.  Weird.  Right?  There really is no explanation for it.  But,  I find myself , when it gets out of sync,  thinking,  “Grandpa,  you are going to have to fix the clock again because we messed it up.”  And,  before I know it,  it’s fixed!  A lot of people would say it must just reset,  but I know that just doesn’t happen with this type of clock.  I know that my grandpa is taking care of my clock for me.  Maybe it’s his way of letting me know that he is still around and checking in on me.  I kind of like knowing that he has been here,  and that I have someone watching over me.  I have always enjoyed my alone time,  but I also like knowing that I am never really alone.  So,  I am adding to this post,  the song that my grandfather liked,  and my grandmother used to sing,  back in the day.  Maybe I will play it,  and then wind my clock just enough to get it off kilter again,  and then wait for it to sync up!

24. It’s All About The Journey

This blog post is dedicated to my Facebook friend, and ALS warrior, Tammy.  May you be joyful as you continue on your journey,  no matter where it takes you.

 

Last month,  my husband and I traveled West in our new(ish)  RV.  We made a stop in Missouri,  then on one side of Kansas,  then the other side of Kansas,  then Colorado,  and finally,  New Mexico.  Then back home through Texas,  Oklahoma,  Missouri, and finally arriving in Indiana.  It was an adventure.  It was our first trip in the RV,  being the second owners,  so we found things we wanted to change,  and a few things we have to fix.  We had a travel trailer years ago,  so it was not all totally new to us,  but it was all new to our 95+lb., five year old Lab mix dog who we took with us.  He adjusted fairly well,  and loved his new bed,  and all the vacation food,  but  he preferred to squeeze into the 12 inch space beside the bed to sleep,  instead of his spacious  and comfy bed.  It was quite a sight.

We probably should have taken a shorter trip for the first trip out.  That way we wouldn’t have been clear across the country when we realized that we needed to order a new converter (don’t ask me what that is,  but apparently it’s very important).  But,  we did have an adventure!  It’s just that adventures aren’t always great,  amazing trips without a single problem.   We had to cut our trip short and come home early.  So our adventure  ended up being more about the journey, and less about the destination.   But,  isn’t that how it should be?   Isn’t that just life?  I had always wanted to visit New Mexico, so that was the end goal.   So many people plan on reaching some sort of goal and they are sure they will find enjoyment in the achievement of that goal,  like a new home,  or retirement.  But,  they end up just working themselves  into a serious illness,  or to death trying to achieve their goals,  planning to be happy one day in the future,   instead of just enjoying the journey and finding happiness in the every day.   I used to do the same thing,  until ALS woke me up and made me start paying attention to the journey and not just the destination.  Because you never really get to your destination.  You may achieve a goal,  but then,  don’t you just have another goal to achieve  (hopefully)?  And another?  And another,  and so on and so on, and it never really ends. I would say that even at death,  it is about the journey, because your trip has not ended, but just continues on in another dimension (otherwise known as  Heaven).  We usually refer to death as an ending.  But,  I know that we are really just living somewhere else.  There is no ending,  just the journey.  Many,  many religions believe that you take many journeys through more than one lifetime.  I am apt to believe this,  because how can a person accomplish anything in just one short lifetime?  I have trouble believing that God only gives you between one and one hundred short years to experience life in the vast amount of time of Earth’s existence, but… that’s a whole other blog post!  Do whatever you can to find enjoyment on your journey,  and don’t worry so much about your destination.  Enjoy each and every day.

 

19. Life’s Been Good To Me So Far

 

Joe Walsh was spot on with his song, “Life’s Been Good  “.  I would say, for sure, life’s been good!  Except, I guess, for the whole ALS thing, and the golf ball sized kidney stone, that wasn’t much fun.  But we are focusing on the good stuff in this blog post.  If you listen to the lyrics, they say,

I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.  Life’s been good to me so far.

I think it’s okay to do a little complaining.  My blog posts may not show it, but I probably meet my quota on complaints most days.  Just ask my kids, I’m sure they would say that I am a complainer.  The trick is, to know when to stop your complaining and thank your lucky stars.

I think Lou Gerhig got it right too, when he uttered  those now infamous words,

 “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”  

Lou Gehrig realized how many good things he had going in his life.  It’s all about being grateful for what you have. No matter how little you might think you have going for you, start listing it all and it will add up faster than you might think.  Oprah suggests you keep a gratitude journal. Write down something , or a few things, every evening that you were grateful for that day. Gratitude for what you have can change your life. Not just your outlook on life, but your entire life. A Course In Miracles says, a miracle is when a shift in your outlook occurs.  That’s how a person, who is supposed to be dying of cancer, can be truly happier than their neighbor who has their health and enough money to last a long lifetime.  My outlook has definitely shifted in the last several years.  I went from, “Oh no, I have ALS” to, “Yes, I have ALS”, to, “Oh yea, I have ALS”.  I consider every single day I am still here a miracle, and try to focus on life and not ALS.
Gratitude is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.  What are you grateful for today?

13. Forget About It

Forget about it! Said in your best mobster (think Tony Soprano or Mickey Blue Eyes ) voice.  We live in a world where the things you focus on are the things that manifest in your life. Did you ever notice when you try and try to save up money for something you really want, how hard it can be? Your thoughts migrate towards your lack of money. Your focus on your lack of money continues to bring about a shortage of funds.

Have you heard the saying, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. While it’s just a saying, there may be some truth to it. It is, after all, very difficult to think about anything other than your absence of money, when money is what you really need. It is much easier to envision always having enough money when you already possess money. Likewise with your health, and everything else in your life. The more you concentrate on something, the more you receive exactly
what you are concentrating on. So, if you are sick, the more you talk and think about your illness, the more it clings to you. If you no longer want to be struggling with something, forget about what you don’t have, and focus on how great you will feel when you have what you want. I know, that’s easier said than done, especially with health issues. You still have to deal with doctors, tests, treatments and medications probably on a daily basis. so your illness is on your mind often.

My favorite author, Pam Grout, offers a series of simple experiments to help us understand just how the universe works, in her book, E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality https://www.amazon.com/dp/1401938906/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_EHtwzbKFXBYSC

 She does a much better job of explaining things than I could, so I suggest you read her book.  But, the gist of it is that God (or whatever you prefer …Mother Earth, the Great Spirit, etc) is always listening and gives you what you are focused on in life.  So, we need to focus on what we want and forget about what we don’t want, i.e. probably your current situation.  Like I said, she does a much better job of explaining it. But I think she is spot on!  I have done most of her experiments, and have received everything from a bright blue butterfly to a seahorse, to a surprise credit of $24.85, to a write off of a student loan (a total surprise)!  

I don’t have this all figured out, I do, after all, still have ALS.  But, I try not to focus on that, and instead, focus on all the awesomeness in life and expect more amazing things to come my way.

11. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, And I Feel Fine 

A popular (well, popular back in the day) song by R.E.M., it describes how I feel when I watch or read the news. If I don’t let all that bad news stress me out, that is. Watch any news program, and after five or ten minutes you will start to believe that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket! Apparently bad news is more interesting than good news,at least that’s what we have been conditioned to believe. With the news reporting much, much more bad news than good, is it any wonder people struggle with depression and live in fear of the world around them? The evening news reports on as many bad things as they can squeeze into their allotted amount of time, adds in a weather report, and sports , and throws in just one good story before the news ends. Which never really happens, does it? The news ending, I mean. I remember , back in the old days, if you wanted to catch up on the news you read the daily newspaper or watched the news at noon,5:00, or 11:00. Only.  Now, we have access to bad news 24 hours a day. And, thanks to technology and social media, we are bombarded with negative news.

I am convinced that there aren’t any more bad things happening in the world than there always have been. We just hear about them more than ever before. I also believe that the good things that happen far outweigh the bad. We just don’t hear about them nearly enough. Take a minute or two each day to look through Facebook or Instagram, or whatever site you like, and look at all the good things happening ( good things only) in the lives of your family and friends. Think about the good things in your life, and the good will begin to outweigh the bad.  Then, even when the news is filled with stories that are bleek and depressing, you will know that those are not the only stories to be told, and you’ feel fine.

10. Think Good Thoughts, Always 

It takes no more energy to think a good thought than it does to think a bad, or negative thought.  Yet, those negative thoughts seem to come so much more easily.  When someone cuts you off as you are driving down the road, doesn’t it instantly make you mad?  In a flash, your head fills with four letter words.  It is, however, entirely possible that the person who just cut you off was not just being an ass because they don’t care about anyone else.  Maybe they just found out that their mother was in a horrible accident, and they are rushing to the hospital.  You never know.  Why then, did they give you the finger as they cut you off?  Well, maybe they are an ass, whose mother was just in a horrible accident.  The point is, why not choose the better thought?  Not that their mother being in a wreck is good, but the fact that they maybe kind of had a reason for their actions.  I guarantee you will be happier and have a better day, if you choose to stay positive.  Shouldn’t that be a goal for us everyday, to have a good day?

Have you ever had a day when everything seems to go wrong? You have an appointment, or have to get to work, and maybe you over slept, and you couldn’t find your car keys and traffic was bad, so you were late to your appointment or to work. No matter what the scenario, instead of stressing out over everything that went wrong, try just ignoring it all and consider the idea that everything just went right. Maybe by being slowed down at every turn and causing you to be late, it also meant that you avoided hitting a deer that would have crossed your path if you had been on time. You never know.  So what if you are a few minutes late. I don’t think you would want to make it a habit, but, chill out (see blog post 7) and choose to think about your day in a more positive way.

I’m not always a glass half full kind of person.  Some days, all I have is a ring on the coffee table where my glass used to be.  I think that came from Roseanne Barr, years ago, and I think she was spot on.  But whenever you can, give yourself a break from the negative in your life and consciously choose good thoughts.