Archive for February, 2013

I have to laugh at myself…

Smiley Face Clip Art

I do no take much about myself seriously.  At an early age I had to learn not to care what other people think. My dad, very frugal, used to insist he give me a haircut with clippers. It was during the popularity of Mia Farrow’s short cut, so I wasn’t a real outcast because of it…except for the time when he slipped and I had a bald spot on the back of my head.  (Everyone was sympathetic because they thought I had had brain surgery…) Also, during the times of my dad’s schizophrenic episodes, he made sure to let me know that I was ugly.  Being young at the time, I believed him, of course.  However, I sincerely thought, and still think, that beauty on the outside does not matter, beauty on the inside does.

In order to “remain sane”, I do not get easily embarrassed and I have learned to laugh at myself.

For example, the other day driving near our house, I saw my husband’s work van.  Pulling up beside him at a traffic light, I excitedly began to wave and blow kisses.  Until, upon further examination, I noticed that it was not my husband driving, but some other electrician with an identical white van, same ladders on top and roles of wire in the back.  (Go figure there would be another white work van like my husband’s. They are so RARE!)  Anyway, the driver looked at me like I was crazy, and I started laughing.  It was SO funny!  In between giggles, I mouthed the words “sorry, wrong van!”  and I took off so fast when the light turned green that I could have been a contender in a NASCAR race.

At our church picnic last summer, I was organizing the photo of all of the church members.  About 100 people were lined up with a few stragglers.  While walking backwards to the camera, I was giving directions for people to move in closer together. (We all know how easy it is to get a picture of such a large group, with everyone smiling nicely and looking at the camera.) All of a sudden, I tripped over my own two feet and fell on my back, arms and legs in the air.  Several people commented that I looked like a turtle on its back.  Of course, I laughed at myself. Clumsiness is a trait of mine.  So what?  Afterwards, several people came up to me and commented on how embarrassed I must have been.  Embarrassed? Why would I be embarrassed?  I thought it was funny!  (If you picture it in your head, you HAVE to laugh…)

The huge white van I drive is so tall that I have trouble getting into the driver’s seat. I usually do so by  grabbing onto the side of the driver’s seat, hold on for dear life, and alternately pull and wiggle up into the seat.  Sometimes I slip, and once I even fell to the ground with a thud. (Maybe the thud was in my head…because I  doubt the ground actually moved…)  My husband and sons always laugh at me when I get into the van, and I laugh with them.  What else am I going to do?  Well,  I COULD have ridden up on the wheelchair lift on the side of the van, but that wouldn’t be as much of a challenge.

Then there is the story about what happened last week when I met a good friend who is blind for lunch.  I admit I am quite lazy in the morning, (often reading blogs, of ALL things,) and I did not have time to put on any make-up.  As is usually the case, I put it on in the car when I stopped at read lights.  Because I keep one eye on the light and the other on the mirror,  I do one eye at the time; eye shadow and mascara.  It makes a dramatic difference as my eyes are usually kind of squinty and tiny and tired looking.  I often look in the mirror with one eye done and think I look like a “before” and “after” picture on aging, all on the same face.  Anyway, on this particular morning, I was lucky and got mostly green traffic lights.  When I arrived at the restaurant, I excitedly jumped out of the van and ran to meet my friend.  (Getting out for breakfast with a friend is a rarity for me.)  Just as I got inside the restaurant and said hi to my friend, I remembered I only had enough red lights to put make-up on one eye.  “Oh, well” I thought, “there is nothing I can do about it now as my make-up bag in the car and I am way too lazy to go back and get it.”  I figured that, being blind, my friend wouldn’t care.  And when I sat in the booth, I made sure to put my “good eye” on the side the waitress was.  I figured it I always looked ahead, she wouldn’t notice either!  I had a wonderful breakfast and, with a little laugh to myself, I never thought about it again, (until later in the car when I stopped at the next red light and finished the job!)

The moral of my story is…be comfortable with yourself and don’t care what other people think. Life is too short to spend it worrying or bothered by what you may perceive others think of you. Sometimes what you think they may think may not be what they think at all! And if they ARE thinking it, have the confidence to laugh it off!

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Link to my book
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-apple-tree/id538572206?mt=11

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

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All on Equal Grounds

I received a wonderfully insightful comment from  nancyaruegg.com  at “From the Inside Out”that I would like to share:

“Your attitude about your life-calling is an inspiration in itself.  You don’t consider yourself a martyr.  Instead, you see your background as preparation for what God has called you to do, and you take pleasure in the fulfillment it provides.  No accolades necessary.  My takeaway:  Each of us has been formed and prepared by God for a unique purpose.  We can each embrace our own.  Thank you for your inspiration!”

To which I responded:

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!  You have great insight into the way I feel.  I really love raising my kiddos, and I think I am pretty good at it.  However, I am no more remarkable at it than the friendly waitress who served us, carrying that huge tray of food without spilling a drop, pre-eminently bringing us extra napkins and salad dressing on the side, pleasantly refilling my glass of Diet Coke ten times, and splitting our dessert on two different plates each filled with its own whipped cream.  

No more remarkable than the teachers who teach my children with great compassion and understanding, imparting educational wisdom on them even though I can’t get them to make their beds.     teacher-give-chance-to-students

No more remarkable than the truck driver who hauls the oranges up here from Florida, going for days without seeing his family, stopping to take cat naps at the rest stops; I would have gone bonkers with loneliness after the first half hour, would have had to stop every 50 miles to pee, and would have fallen asleep at the wheel after three hours.

No more remarkable than the individual with a developmental disability who works as a bagger at the grocery store, who carefully puts the heavy items on the bottom of the bag where I would have thrown the cans of tomatoes right on top of the bread and the carton of eggs in upside down.  

No more remarkable than the dental hygienist who cleans my teeth while I whine like a baby, offering calming words and a smile I can see by the crinkling of her eyes, because her mouth is covered in a mask, (or is she really laughing at me?)

No more remarkable than the computer designer who works magic in the computer world, enabling me to play games, use e-mail, research projects, make the print larger, (for my older eyes which refuse to accept glasses,) and BLOG!

No more remarkable than the pastor who preaches, imparting words of wisdom and hope to his congregation, of which I am a humble part.

No more remarkable than the bus driver for public transportation, who cheerfully stops to pick up strangers, dropping them safely at their destinations, (when I would have surely clipped a few mailboxes, and maybe a few pedestrians, and I sure would have shut the automatic door too quickly on someone’s butt.)

Yes, the waitress, the teacher, the truck driver, the grocery bagger, the dental hygienist, the computer designer, the pastor, the bus driver and any other profession where you know someone loves his/her job, we all have one thing in common; we are good at our chosen jobs. No accolades necessary, success is the feeling of a job well done.  

This is the life we choose to lead, all on equal grounds.   

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Link to my book
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-apple-tree/id538572206?mt=11

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

 

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother

I led a very untraditional lifestyle when I was growing up.  My father, whom I later realized was schizophrenic, had the wanderlust to travel, which our family did for about 6 months of the year. He would remove me out of school and we would take off for various areas of the country, living in our Volkswagen van. ( Although I am sure that today’s public education system would not allow it, somehow I think my father would have taken me out anyway.)

It was quite an adventure for a child like me.  I have a vivid memory of cracking eggs in a big, black, iron frying pan over a campfire in the Badlands in South Dakota.  The rocks the pan was on were not sturdy, and the pan fell sideways with the eggs slowly leaking out onto the pine needles on the ground.  (Clumsy then…still clumsy.) I remember traveling in southern Georgia, driving for miles watching red clay cover everything…the houses, the cars, and even the clothes hanging on the lines.  It was at the beginning of the civil rights movement, and I was uneducated in this area, (probably because I didn’t go to school!) The whole concept of a bathroom for “whites only” was a shock to me.  Did that mean that only people wearing white clothes could use it?  (I’m picturing nurses, dentists, pharmacists…)  I couldn’t use it because I had on my only pair of pants, jeans, and a multi-colored t-shirt. But I had to go to the bathroom baaaaad, where would I go?  Behind the bushes? How degrading!  My misunderstanding of this concept is now a slight reminder of what it felt like be African American in the 60’s. I also have the memory of  a bear at Yellowstone Park coming onto our campsite to eat our dinner as we all huddled in the car. My brother, Curtis, was upset because he had left a package of Cracker Jacks on the picnic table.  We had to restrain him from leaping out of the car to get it.  Afterwards, I was not so keen to sit by the campfire…

But most of all, I remember my constant companion; Curtis.  He was four years younger than I was, and he had been born with Rubella Syndrome; developmentally delayed, cleft palate, legally blind, and severely hearing impaired.  He was my buddy.  Because my dad was extremely frugal, (ie obsessive compulsive disorder frugal,) I did not have many toys to play with.  So, in addition to reading a lot, I played in our surroundings with my brother.  I have a memory of  sitting by a stream, sun shining down on the water through the leaves on the trees. Curtis was happily splashing about in the shallow water.  I was looking for rocks that somewhat resembled people.  (They were no Barbie dolls, but some kind of looked like Alfred Hitchcock and Potato Head.) All of a sudden I heard a whoooooosh!  Curtis had ventured too far into the water and the current started to carry him downstream!  Fortunately, I had long, slim legs (in those days,) and with a few strides, I picked him up by the back of his pants. He was laughing heartily.  To him it was a real adventure.  Like the poor person’s substitute for a ride at Disneyland!

We actually had a lovely childhood together. I had to carry him everywhere because he could not walk sturdily.  Carrying him was just a natural way of life for me.  I don’t know why, but I never thought to be embarrassed by him, (although his screeching and attempt at speech WAS pretty scary).  I never ever thought of him as a burden.  He was just my buddy, Curtis.

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My parents rarely took pictures.  (The money thing again…) But I do remember ONE picture.  It was a picture of me and Curtis, standing in front of Mount Rushmore.  I was characteristically giving him a piggy back ride.  The photo shows Curtis, looking over my shoulder, eyes squinted shut by the glare of the sun.  I was wearing a stupid, treasured, red velvet derby hat, (you know, like jockeys wear.) As the dead presidents loomed behind us, I gave my characteristically stupid, toothy grin, (like all children do when their parents ask them to smile.) And on that day, I first heard the song from Neil Diamond which fit my sentiments exactly: “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”.  It was a powerful moment to think that someone had put into words what my life was like.

I was so very lucky to have been raised the way I was because it formed my personality, my temperament, and my compassion for others. I personally cannot take credit for the way I live now, fostering and adopting children. I am not selfless, nor amazing, nor wonderful, nor any of the other adjectives readers have used to describe me. I am simply living my life the way I was raised and it is a wonderful life!

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Link to my book  The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

 

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Lyrics

The road is long

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

But I’m strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain’t heavy,he’s my brother

So on we go

His welfare is of my concern

No burden is he to bear

We’ll get there

For I know

He would not encumber me

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all

I’m laden with sadness

That everyone’s heart

Isn’t filled with the gladness

Of love for one another

It’s a long, long road

From which there is no return

While we’re on the way to there

Why not share

And the load

Doesn’t weigh me down at all

He ain’t heavy he’s my brother

He’s my brother

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell

performed by Neil Diamond in 1970

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Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

Newton’s Theory of Moving Cars

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The other day, as I was driving to work, I came upon an elderly gentleman trying to push his car out of the middle of the street.  My sometimes inconvenient desire to help others kicked into place as I pulled my huge van over to the side of the road, slithered out of the driver’s seat, plopped to the ground, and ran to assist him. He was pushing on one side holding the steering wheel, and I grabbed onto the trunk and pushed.  Knowing what I do about Newton’s Law of Motion, I knew that an object in motion continues in motion, so pushing it was not difficult. Even if I’d nudged it with my finger, it would have kept moving unless it ran into something to stop it.  What amazed me, however, was that out of the large number of cars that had stopped, and no one else got out to help.

Of course, I am sure they were transfixed in their seats, mesmerized, thinking “Look at that old man and that lovely, blonde middle-aged woman with the shapely body pushing that huge, 2000 pound car out of the road!  What an amazing sight!” Alas, I hesitate to print what I  really  thought they were thinking. If they did not remember Newton’s Law of Motion, I am sure they were annoyed at having to stop, although they might have been a little impressed that we two, slightly over the hill people were moving this car ourselves.

As his car came to a stop by the side of the road, allowing traffic to flow once again, the gentleman thanked me.  I walked over to my huge van, shimmied up into the driver’s seat, and drove away. Thank goodness I remembered good ole’ Newton from Science class, or I may not have been so eager to stop and help!

 

 

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Link to my book  The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

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