Category Archives: Guest Writer

Guest Writer Kathy B January 5 2015

 

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Once again my sweet cousin, Kathy, is at it again. She has taken her beautiful thoughts and put them to paper and pen! I hope you are enjoying her sweet and encouraging words as much as I am. So, here again is Kathy in her own words:

NEW YEAR 2015

New Novel beginning, a fresh start
Eternal joy and great happiness
Wondrous gift of love.

Young Babe that came from God and Mary
Exultant lifting those up from despair
Appreciate those who truly love and care for you
Renew your spirit, mind and soul.
These are gifts that I wish and I hope
For you, those I keep in my heart.

Guest Writer Kathy B January 4 2015

 

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Once again, my wonderful and delightful cousin, Kathy, has kindly put her encouraging and inspirational thoughts in writing. She has composed a short poem and wanted to share it here on this blog. I hope you find her kind and encouraging words uplifting for you today. Now, once again, here is my cousin Kathy in her own words:

The Dream – A Gift

One night I had a dream that I met God at Heaven’s gate,

 “Do you think that you deserve to enter my Kingdom?”

“No, I do not,” I said. “I have done so many wrongs – too many of them – in my life.”

I hung my head, feeling the weight of shame heavy on my heart.

“Remember, my beloved child, I will always love you.

Nothing will keep me from it because I know every hair on your head.

I know the hurts you have felt. When you shed tears, I shed them along with you.

Nobody knows your true heart better than me.”

With that, he threw open the gate and the most beautiful light enveloped me.

I bowed my head once again. “Father, I want to be worthy of your precious gift.”

“My precious child, don’t you see?” God asked.

“You are worthy because I know you and you know me.

Give me your shame and I give to you a beautiful life eternal.”

Guest Writer: Kathy B January 3 2015

 

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My cousin, Kathy B had spent a special Christmas with her family and she just treasures very special and pleasant moments she has with those she loves the most. She is very thought and reflective of such special times and has offered to share her special thoughts on this. I hope the special message that she shares here will be a wonderful and gentle encouragement to those who read this. Now, here is Kathy B in her own words:

Christmas Past, Present & Yet to Be

Christmas past and Christmas present,

I can’t help but think of those who came and left before me,

Grandpa, Dad and Mom, all those I love that went to Heaven,

the list is much too long,

That is what makes all that I carry in heart

– all the memories – just a tiny bit bittersweet you see,

they come flooding back to my mind

much like a cherished melody of youth’s sweet song.

But, as I begin my 50th decade, God and life has brought bit more wisdom to me,

I should not dwell too much on their absence,

for I won’t notice the blessings yet to be,

 I sometimes long for years gone by, the day in the little church where I became we,

the sweet joy I felt in my heart with my little one in my arms, young and carefree.

However, I too enjoy the present,

it brings its own precious gifts of memories yet to be.

Re-posting Guest Writer Kathy B on Compassion

 

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Today, I am re-posting a segment from  my cousin, Kathy. As Christmas approaches there are often extra efforts to show love, encouragement, and kindness to others. However, as noted by my cousin here, showing kindness to to others should be a part of our everyday lives. Kathy B, has been a frequent guest writer on  my blog and she often has a unique insight to share with others.  She seems to have a mission in life to encourage lift up others and therefore, she is the perfect guest writer here. She continues to make regular visits to a nursing home for the purpose of encouraging others. She can always tell when someone is extra sad. She tells me, “I like to make others smile.” And one day while going to church, she was focused on God’s grace and his forgiveness which led her to a certain passage in scripture.  Here is Kathy in  own words:

Being Compassionate Everyday

Thank you for your grace and restoration that you give us everyday,

Even though we clearly fall short and don’t deserve it.

We are so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to think or care for others,

because our past hurts cut us to the core of our being,

Help us to be like You, loving and compassionate.

Psalm 62  (Holy Bible New International Version)

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.[b]

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

 

Guest Writer Kathy B November 15, 2014

 

 

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Today, i am showcasing a timely article written some time ago by my cousin Kathy B. She had written this piece while taking an online course  and was required to write about her birthday month. In her research, she managed to discover  very interesting historical facts and information all relating to the month of November. I was quite taken by this article and so enjoyed reading it. I hope you also enjoy this timely article about the month of November:

November in a Nutshell

     November means the ninth month as it was the ninth month in the Roman calendar. The zodiac or astrological signs for November are Scorpio for those born up until the 21st, and Sagittarius for those born in the last part of the month. The birthstone is the topaz and its flower is the chrysanthemum. November is the end of the harvest season and the unofficial start of winter. Our presidential and congressional elections are always held on the first Tuesday of the month.

Historical Events in November

Several states joined the Union in November including North and South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Washington and Oklahoma The U.S. Marine Corps was founded on November10th, 1773, an important day in my family.. November11th, 1918 marked the official end of World War 1, also called the “Great War” and the “War to end all wars.” {I wish that was true.} In 1938, it was first celebrated as a holiday called Armistice Day, it was later changed to Veterans Day to honor all the brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. The Vietnam Memorial, a list of all military personal who were killed or were missing in action was dedicated on November 13th, 1982 in Washington DC. The “unknown soldier” was also buried there in 1921 at the Capitol Rotunda.

Inventions in November

Several inventions were patented or introduced in this month including the artificial leg in 1846, the first cash register in 1880, and the stereo radio in 1955. The National Broadcasting Company {NBC} first went on the air in 1926. Coincidently, Walter Cronkite was born ten years earlier, perhaps he worked for the wrong network.

  Abraham Lincoln and Thanksgiving

November was a very important month in the life of Abe Lincoln.  He was elected as our 16th President on November 6, 1860. Several things happened in 1863 during November. Sherman let Atlanta burn, Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address; Lincoln went to a play starring the man who would kill him 17 months later, John Wilkes Booth. What a bit of irony!  Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a National holiday in the midst of The Civil War in November, 1863. However, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated within the colonies on November 22, 1789

The history of Thanksgiving began about 150 years before with the voyage of the Mayflower carrying the Pilgrims. The Mayflower Compact was a way to set order to avoid more mutiny aboard the ship, it was a loose form of government to restore order. The Indians shared an autumn feast with the Pilgrims in 1621.

President Kennedy and other Historical Facts

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in an open car in Dallas, TX. While on the plane back to Washington D.C. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as our next President with Jackie Kennedy at his side. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested the same day for his murder.  Oswald was shot and killed a few days later on his way to court by Jack Ruby.

Other random facts about November are hard to categorize.  Queen Elizabeth 11 married Prince Phillip on November 20th, 1947. In 1979, 63 hostages were taken by Iran. Utah was the second state to give women the right to vote on November 5, 1895.

Conclusion

I think my birthday month is an interesting one. A number of states were admitted to the Union: Colorado, North and South Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma and Washington. Many events of the Civil War and Lincoln’s life occurred in November as well. One of the greatest tragedies ever to our country was the assassination of our President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving are the important holidays.

Kathy’s References:

Sanders, B. (2006). November: Facts about November, Barbara’s Entourage, God, Family, and Friends: Welcome to my Humble Abode. Retrieved from http://www.entourages.com/barbs/november.html

Zalevec, K. (2009, October 31). Trivial Facts about the Month of November: it isn’t just about Turkey, Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie, Associated Content from Yahoo. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2338016/trivial_facts_about_the_month_of_november.html

 

 

 

Guest Writer Kathy B October 12, 2014

 

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My wonderful cousin Kathy has been busy writing again. Today she is sharing a very special story of what life is like in her shoes. I feel this is a very important story because all of us who do not need a wheelchair really have no idea how life can be so different than what we know. From getting up for the day, arranging transportation,and finally getting out the door, just a quick trip to a grocery store or a doctor appointment can turn into an all day event for her. And that is just one small example of how her life is so different from mine.

What strikes me about her is how she deals with so much and is determined to remain kind and gracious through it all.  As Kathy journeys through her daily life she often meets up with individuals who really lack understanding of her situation and it’s unique challenges. This includes, sadly,  counselors and other professionals who ought to know and be more compassionate and understanding. Kathy in her own quiet way would kindly try to explain her unique situation but that didn’t always help. She would be searching for kindness and understanding from others and not receive it. Now, she decided to write about it and share her story with us. I hope you enjoy reading and learning from her perspective in daily life:

Rolling in My Shoes

            Most infants born in 1964 did not make it if they were over two months early. There were no such things as neonatal intensive care units or drugs to help the development of the lungs even after birth. To put it into perspective, a baby boy who was born the same day as me, but he died; yet, he was only six weeks early. Today, preterm babies born at either of these stages of pregnancy may not have any sign of disability at all. However, fifty years ago, I went into respiratory distress at six days of age. I never moved my legs inside the incubator again. Prior to this, I had been extremely active inside my glass cocoon. Procedures were so different then that my parents were not allowed to interact with me at all. I could not even hear their voices, let alone feel their arms holding me. In fact, I knew no human touch at all until I was ready to come home six weeks later. At that point, I was almost five pounds, and the hospital nursery was full of infants. That period of history between 1946 and 1964 became known as the baby boom generation, so my parents were allowed to bring me home sooner than they would have otherwise.

My parents were told that I would be behind in my developmental milestones by about three months compared to other full term infants of my age. Surprisingly, I met my milestones at the same time as other babies. I even said “Da Da” at about five months old. Mom noticed however, that I was not trying to roll over or sit up. When she tried to sit me up, I would topple over immediately. At about nine months old, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. How frightened my parents must have been as my future became suddenly very much up in the air. All they could do was wait to see I could and could not do for myself.

Cerebral palsy is also referred to as CP, is a term used to describe a collection of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more particular sections of the brain. This usually occurs during pregnancy; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy. These conditions are not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, it is caused by the defective development or damage to the motor areas in the brain; this defect disturbs the brain’s ability to control movement and posture (how well one sits or stands upright).  Cerebral Palsy is also known as a developmental delay and/or disability.

I have the most common type of CP called spastic CP. This causes me to have too much tone or stiffness in the muscles. I also have mild tremors in the legs and feet. While some people walk with an uneven gait, I have little ability to maintain my balance, so I use a power chair. This means that I need help with some Activities of Daily Life, (ADL’s); these include getting in and out of bed, dressing, showering, and toileting. I also need help with some Instrumental Activities of Daily of Daily Life or (IADL’s). These are more complex skills of living. In my case, I need help with shopping, public transit, home chores, cooking and medication management.

Caregivers assist me to have the best quality of life possible. I have had to learn some patience; it is not always easy to exercise patience especially when I am in a hurry to accomplish something. My husband is my primary caregiver; he has known me since I was a teenager. One of the most important life lessons occurred to me not long ago. Grace has to be an important part of my life. In order for people to want to help me, I must show appreciation to those who go out of their way to do so. It takes a great deal of grace and empathy to give and receive help; it is very much a reciprocal relationship. I pray for those who deal with me on a professional level that they would have some compassion for my circumstances and realize that my circumstances are at times imperfect.

There are extra challenges in rolling in my shoes! Have you ever noticed the sidewalks that suddenly end, causing me to go the long way around to get to my destination? What may take someone less than an hour to visit the store may well take me most of the day! Busses or specialized transport may take hours, just to pick me up and drop me off depending on the schedule. Yet, I am usually less than a fifteen minute drive away from home. Don’t get me wrong; I am very glad to have access to these services, but there may be valid reasons why I may I not smell as fresh as a daisy or I may dress for warmth and comfort rather than dressed up for the office. How does a person like me get a complete medical examination when I am unable to put myself on the exam table? I have a Hoyer lift at home, but I am not allowed to bring it on public transport; it is far too big and top-heavy to be safely transported. It becomes a liability issue. The hospital is often my only option for a more complex exam. All of these issues require planning ahead and good time management. Next time, you encounter someone with a disability, please do not criticize him or her, and bless him or her by offering some compassionate grace!

A day in my life contains little spontaneity; as much as I would love to just decide to do something at the spur of the moment, it is rarely possible. Most of my day follows an outline of a plan. This is not to say that every moment is scheduled, but if I want to do something more than a mile or so from my home, I have to usually plan for it. The reason for this is the rather limited battery and speed of my power chair. At top rabbit speed, it only goes at six mph. After going a few miles, the battery loses power quickly. As much as I love my chair and the independence it allows me to have, the chair is very heavy – about 3-400 lbs. without me in it. This means that it an exceptionally strong person to push it more than a few feet after the pusher puts it into manual drive. This totally disengages the power, and it is up to the not so lucky person to push it. Fortunately, it has never broken down outside my home, although it is a fear of mine because there is no Triple A for people in chairs.

As I explained earlier, I also need help to get up and get cleaned up for the day. Often, I need a shower. My caregiver and or my husband use the patient lift to transfer me from the bed to the shower chair. My helper(s) push me into the bathroom, attaching the shower chair to the gliding system. One lifts my legs over the side of the tub while the other slides the chair and me over into the tub. Once the shower is done, the wet sling has to be exchanged for a dry one, and the lift is used to transfer me onto the bed. This is where I get dressed for the day and my catheter is tended to etc. This entire process takes about an hour including using the lift again to place me in the chair.

If I have a scheduled appointment, our disabled transportation system requires me to be ready an hour before my appointment time, longer if I have to go outside of my city. Once I complete my appointment, I have to call the dispatcher to pick me up once again. This could take up to another hour. According to their schedule, there is often others to pick up or drop off on the way home. It is often faster to take the fixed route bus home! But I do run the risk of others in wheelchairs already using the allocated spaces. If this happens, it really puts me behind. I have to plan to leave with time to spare in case I get held up for any reason, even a late bus. Sometimes, my incontinence becomes an issue, especially if I get delayed at all. I take steps to minimize the risk, but there are times it cannot be helped.

My life and well-being depend very much on the reliability of others. However, I am luckier than most in my shoes because my husband is usually available to pick up the slack if a caregiver cannot be with me. Knowing that my success as well as my good health relies so much on others is not easy for me. Good and empathetic caregivers are as difficult to find as gold nuggets. Low pay and burnout are frequent problems. Due to tight budgets, aging baby boomers and the fact that people are living about thirty years longer than they were 100 years ago, this will most likely continue to be a problem for decades to come unless solutions can be found. However, that is a topic for another day.

 

Guest Writer Kathy B October 6, 2014

 

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, my cousin Kathy is also a writer and has written her own share of articles, stories, and poetry. Recently, she read  a certain book, Tuesdays with Morrie written by Mitch Albom. She also saw  the movie and was compelled to write about it. This had originally been a classroom assignment but she felt so affected and inspired by what she read and subsequently wrote, that she desired to share it with someone. She chose to share it here on my blog. It is her hope that the true story of Morrie would reach and inspire others. Kathy is a gentle and sensitive person and with every writing project she completes she leaves the stamp of her heart in it.  So here is the third installment of Kathy B’s review and the insight she gained in reading Tuesdays

Tuesdays with Morrie Part 3

Embracing Change

On the next Tuesday, Morrie informed Mitch that he had lost the war; someone had to assist him to clean his bottom. In a way, this was difficult to accept because it meant totally giving in to the ALS. But, he accepted with grace, even asking his caregiver if she comfortable enough to do it. The time had come when he was nearly completely dependent on the help of others. However, he looked for and found a reason to enjoy that as well. The experience was like being a child again. He just cherished the loving kindness of a human touch. Aging also came up that day. Mitch asked him if he would like to be young again. He answered that it was impossible not to be a bit jealous of young people. His youth had passed, however, and it was time to embrace the age he was now, seventy-eight. If he had remained the same age, he would not have grown as a person. Without a shred of vanity, he had great self- esteem, good feelings and satisfaction with himself and with his life without thinking too highly of himself. (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). The point was simple. Mitch was a regular part of his caregiving team now, every Tuesday. In order to loosen the congestion that clogged his lungs and chest, he had to have his back pounded, sometimes, in the middle of conversations (Albom, 1997).

The Good-byes

Janine came along with Mitch a few weeks before he died. Mitch’s wife was a professional singer. She never sang for anyone privately before; Mitch was amazed that she sang for Morrie. Suddenly, he heard her sweet voice coming from the other room. Mitch was thrilled; the two people he loved most were finally meeting and talking together! A few days later, the Nightline crew came for the last time. Ted Koppel considered himself to be Morrie’s friend as well by now. Even the rather serious Ted Koppel became emotional this time. It was clear that it was the end. Ted asked him if he was afraid of death. In fact, he said that he was less afraid of it now as it came closer. As his physical limitations grew, he became more thoughtful and introspective. At the end of the interview, he admitted that he was trying to bargain with God. It was not about getting more time as one usually does; he wanted to be an angel (Albom, 1997).

This was quite a remarkable request of God because he had been an agnostic, not sure what or who to believe in before this experience.  One of Morrie’s great quotes was this one:  “My disease,” Morrie once said, lying in the chair in his West Newton, Mass., study, “is the most horrible and wonderful death. Horrible because, well, look at me” — he cast his eyes down on his ragged, shrunken body — “but wonderful because of all the time it gives me to say to good-bye. And to figure out where I’m going next.” “And where is that?” he was asked. He grinned like an elf.  “I’ll let you know” (Albom, 1995). On one of their last Tuesdays together, Mitch and Morrie talked about forgiveness.  First, one must forgive oneself before he can forgive other people. Norman was a friend of Morrie’s for years. Because of hurt feelings, they never had the chance to speak again because he died of cancer three years before.  Morrie also spoke of his father, the wasted years he spent being angry and resentful at him because he was not allowed to grieve his mother openly, and for being a distant father. Again, Mitch had the tables turned on him. Morrie began to encourage Mitch to reach out to his brother. Mitch promised him that he would soon.

The last Tuesday came – the time for good-bye. Charlotte came to hug Mitch. As he did, the long row of medications, the drugs he had taken for so long, caught his eye. When he turned the corner, he saw the hospice nurse. (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010).  She was part of the twenty-four team, waiting for the end to handle the end of life issues that come up to make it easier for the family. In broken, breathless sentences, Morrie told Mitch that he loved him and gestured for him to hold his hand. He was in bed. It was obvious that Morrie was very tired. Mitch gave him a kiss and brushed his face against his own face. For an instant, he saw pleasure on Morrie’s face. Yes, Mitch was finally letting go and showing his emotion; tears were running down his face.  His old professor had told him that he would make Mitch cry one day. He had finally succeeded. Morrie died on Saturday, November 4, 1995. Ironically, as if Morrie had planned it, the funeral was held on Tuesday; after all, they were Tuesday people (Albom, 1997).

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

            Mitch wrote a tribute article for his newspaper eight days after Morrie died. This section is based on it, He died the way he wanted, at peace and in his sleep. He waited until everyone was in the other room before he left this life. Mitch believed that that was on purpose so that no one had to watch him die. The funeral was small, as both Morrie and Charlotte wanted. The wind was cold and the skies were grey. His grave site was on a grassy slope above a little pond. Mitch flashed back to a conversation they had had in October.

“You know, when I’m gone I hope you’ll come visit me,” he had said.

“Visit you?”

“At my grave. I’ve picked a lovely spot, a good place to sit and ask me questions. I’m not sure how I’ll answer, but I’ll try” (Albom, 1995).

Mitch mentioned in the update to the book that he longer has to visit the grave to hear his voice. He even jokes that the book was Morrie’s revenge for not seeing him in sixteen years. He said that he never forgets a thing now. It is just one of the many ways that Morrie changed him. Morrie has reached millions now. Many millions watched him on Nightline. The book reached millions more, and it continues to touch more students as it is assigned reading in classes like this one. Many others, thanks to Oprah Winfrey, saw the movie of the same name with Jack Lemmon as Morrie. In fact, it was Jack’s last credited role before he died of cancer. As much as I love Jack Lemmon, and his portrayal was outstanding, the eyewitness account was more powerful for me.

 For those interested in reading this true story, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, you can find it at the Amazon.com website and here is the link to it:

http://www.amazon.com/Tuesdays-Morrie-young-greatest-lesson-ebook/dp/B000SEGMAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412562579&sr=1-1&keywords=tuesdays+with+morrie

 

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