Tag Archives: ups and downs

Change Equals Growth

When I stumbled upon this quote about how one pictured their life I throught instantly that it fits me perfectly.  A year ago my husband was fighting cancer, he was receiving chemo.  We assumed it was working but it wasn’t.  A year ago I would’ve never pictured my life the way it is now.  Life - A year Ago I would never have pictured my life as it is now.

Change Equals Growth was a motto that Ron adapted as he was fighting cancer.  The disease changed him; it also changed me…as did his passing.  A year ago the possibility of Ron dying had me terrified.  I didn’t know how I would manage things.  Then December 7th arrived, Ron passed, and I had to manage things.  Much of what I have handled in the past six (almost seven) months are things I had never dealt with in my life.  I know I am not doing them the same way Ron would have, but I am doing them my way, and that is the way it should be.

Ron handled everything financial — bills, loans, investments, taxes, insurance, and real estate.  He handled all the yard work, house maintenance, and vehicle maintenance.   Those are important things that I suddenly had to juggle and am still in the learning process with some of them.  I was forced to change, to learn to tackle numerous things while under the emotional stress of my husband’s death.  Change equals growth, and through this process I have grown.

Let GoI have applied and received a mortgage modification, learned to pay bills, met with our financial advisor, gathered tax information for our CPA, handled an IRS audit, closed our joint account and opened my own account for handling of stocks.  I have contacted numerous accounts and had things such as cell phone, internet, cable, vehicle insurance, utilities, and vehicle loans changed into my name.  I have handled contacting service people such as a plumber for a leaky toilet, car maintenance, and the hot tub store for an uncompleted repair that began when Ron was alive.  I will be calling to have someone out to repair my air conditioning that stopped working.  I have learned to run the riding lawnmower, how to put gas into it and how to use a jumper box to jump it if necessary.   I discovered our weed wacker was too heavy and difficult for me to start and operate, so I selected and ordered one that was more suited to my abilities.  I have listed property and vehicles for sale.  I have made decisions on how to juggle money and make payments on time.  I have grown throughout this process.

I have gained confidence in my abilities to handle things I never considered myself capable of in the past.  I have learned that what doesn’t get done today can be tackled tomorrow, that I can’t accomplish everything in the time frame I would like to and that is okay.  life - 10 years from now make sure you can say you lived your life and didn't settle for it

A year ago I would have never pictured my life the way it is now.  Change equals growth.   I have changed, I will continue to change.  I will continue to grow.  Everything happens for a reason.  I look forward to whatever good things life throws at me, because I can and will tackle them.

 

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Filed under cancer, Coping, decisions, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, time

The Gift You Are

This morning I was listening to some music and the song The Gift You Are by John Denver came on.  It is a wonderfully simple, basic song and yet it says so much.  Each person has value, each person is like a ray of sunshine in the world.  How often this is forgotten.

There are two things we tend to do.  The first is we tend to lose value in ourselves.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the stresses of life, especially when things are not going according to the plan we laid out.  It is easy to lose faith in your own ability to accomplish those things that are before you.

Sometimes it is not so much losing faith in yourself as disconnecting from the world, withdrawing as you try to deal with whatever is before you.  That is when it is important to dream of a bright tomorrow and know that your dream will come true.  Stay focused, remember that you have the ability to accomplish whatever you set your mind to…remember The Gift You Are.

The second thing we as humans tend to do is judge others, or maybe I should say misjudge others.  We tend to make assumptions about the abilities of people who do not seem to have the same beliefs, mental abilities, physical abilities, or financial standing as ourselves.  When you do that what you are doing is devaluing the person.

Every person that you encounter has value, you just have to take the time to learn what that value is…maybe that value is they are just different from you and both of you can learn from the relationship.  A person with less mental capabilities may have strong determination to succeed, strong artistic talent, an unusual gentleness with animals.  Those are valuable qualities.   A person with physical disabilities may have undergone a struggle you are unaware of that shows their ability to persevere in times of struggle. These are valuable qualities, remember the gift that each person is.

People are people.  Every person has value.  Remember as you go through life The Gift You Are and remember that every person you encounter is also a gift and if they are struggling remind them of the gift they are.

Link to the song The Gift You Are by John Denver.  Lyrics are below.

The Gift You Are
by John Denver

Imagine a month of Sundays
Each one a cloudy day
Imagine the moment the sun came shining through
Imagine that ray of sunshine as you

Remember your darkest hour
With dawn still far away
Remember the way that you longed for mornings light
And think of yourself as a candle in the night

Make believe this is the first day
Everything all brand new
Make believe that the sun is your own lucky star
And then understand the kind of gift you are

The gift you are
Like the very first breath of spring
The gift you are
All the joy that love can bring

The gift you are
All of our dreams come true
The gift you are
The gift of you

You are the promise of all the ages
You are the Prodigal Son
You are the vision of prophets and sages
You are the only one

Dream of a bright tomorrow
Know that your dream will come true
Carry your dream in a sparkling crystal jar
Then you will know the kind of gift you are

The gift you are
Like the very first breath of spring
The gift you are
All the joy that love can bring

The gift you are
All of our dreams come true
The gift you are
The gift of you

The gift you are
Like the very first breath of springtime
The gift you are
All the joy that love can bring

The gift you are
All of our dreams come true, yes, they do
The gift you are
The gift of you
The gift you are
The gift of you

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Filed under assumptions, communication, Coping, disabilities, freindship, friends, friendship, handicapp, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, reality

Why do we have to play fair?

In my local newspaper this week there was a comic posted that said “and for those who did not graduate today…Please step to the stage to receive your Certificate of Participation.”

Sadly, that is what this country is coming to.  Those who achieve are not given proper recognition because it might hurt the feelings of those who did not achieve.

Earlier this month I learned about a Texas high school that would not allow students to wear their National Honor Society stoles during graduation. This is an honor, those students worked hard to achieve those honors and deserve the recognition.  What was the schools reason for banning the stole?  Administration was fearful that other students might feel excluded.EPSON MFP image

Hello world!  If you do not do the work to achieve then you should be excluded.  That is life!  That is reality!  How can we expect people to lead balanced, productive lives if they never learn that life isn’t fair.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.  Regardless of what happens you continue to move forward and improve yourself.  You struggle, you push forward, you cope.

This is not a new thought process.  It began years ago.  When I was in school not everyone made the sports teams, not everyone won the spelling bee, not everyone was in the speedy readers group.  Some people just weren’t good enough.  If you participated in an activity some people got ribbons for winning, some people got nothing.  That was the way it was and we all knew it.  Whatever you were doing some received recognition for being the best, some people sat on the sidelines with a dream of someday achieving great things as well.  Dreams.  Goals.  Striving for a better future.

Then somewhere along the line people decided that wasn’t fair.  Every child should have the opportunity to be on the team.  Every child should be recognized for their participation.  Everyone should receive a special certificate, not just a chosen few.    It has to be fair, no one should feel left out.  No one should feel they have underachieved.

fair getting what need to be successfulHave we really done those children a favor?  I don’t believe so.  If a child never learns that sometimes life isn’t fair, that sometimes you win and sometimes you loose and that is okay, how can they learn to cope with the realities of life when they become an adult.  They don’t.  I think that is why we have so much violence, so many underachievers.  They never learned to push for the top.  It has been handed to them every step of the way.

I realize that there are some people who simply do not have the ability to achieve greatness.  They may have developmental disabilities, they may be physically impaired, That is okay.  People are different.  Don’t hand them a sympathy ribbon.  Let them compete at their own level with others on the same plateau they are and let them achieve greatness within a group of their own peers.  This will help them learn to work toward a goal and obtain recognition for hard work.

If we go back to letting children experience wins and losses they will learn to cope with life.  They will learn to set goals and improve themselves.  They will have more self-worth than they have by constantly receiving a token certificate of recognition.   Don’t they deserve that?  I think they do.

 

 

 

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Filed under children, Coping, decisions, education, Family, kids, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, parents, reality, school

Human Trafficking – closer to home than you think

Often when we hear news about something that is tragic we turn the other cheek, for those horrible things often happen in areas that are not near us or are removed enough that we feel we are safe.  What happens when you find out that you and/or your loved ones may not be safe?  Your sense of well-being is disturbed.

This is what happened when I found out about human trafficking in Michigan.  I feel safe in the area where I live and was shocked to find out that human trafficking is a very real concern for this area due to our close proximity to the border.  We always think something may happen to someone else, but not us.  Horrible things happen in other countries, but not ours…at least that is what we want to believe.

I was shocked to learn that Michigan is one of the top spots in the United States for human trafficking.  What was even more surprising was to learn that Michigan ranks no. 2 in the country for human trafficking in the sex trade. No. 1 is Nevada. Two of the things that make Michigan a primary spot is our close proximity to Canada and our waterways. They help make the exploitation of vulnerable persons in this state a lucrative business.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Force, fraud, and coercion to control are used to elicit commercial sexual acts, labor or service. Sex is conducted through brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, and strip clubs. Labor is used in domestic work, small businesses, large farms and factories.

Human trafficking takes place in all fifty states and Washington DC. It is a highly lucrative trade. There are high profits and it is low risk. It is one of the most profitable criminal industries worldwide. As of June 30, 2015 there were 2,084 cases of sex trafficking nationally, and an estimated 1.5 million total victims of human trafficking in North America.  The going rate for humans on the global market is $90.00. Humans are sold and re-sold, yielding a nice profit for those in the business.

Labor trafficking is found in agriculture, manufacturing and construction jobs. Victims work in fields, factories, are denied their rightful earnings and live and/or work in deplorable conditions. Sex trafficking is found at Michigan truck stops, hotels and special events.  Victims are offered as sex toys at temporary brothels, sporting events, conventions, and large gatherings.

Teens and runaways are especially vulnerable. They are often enticed by promises of love, affection, and gifts. Guerilla tactics are also used, meaning violence, threats, and consequences if they do not comply with orders.   We must protect our youth from becoming victims of this crime. Educate them on the risks. Make sure they are aware of the tactics used to lure them in. This is a very real crime taking place in our own backyard. We need to take control and eliminate the risk to save our youth.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and can take calls in over 200 languages. They can be reached at 888-373-7888 or traffickingresourcecenter.org.

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Filed under children, communication, decisions, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, mind, parents

Going Through the Motions

It has now been ten days since my husband, Ron, passed away.  Life goes on, and while I appear to be functioning on a normal level, I am numb.

I get up, go to work, come home.  The holidays are a distraction.  I have my daughter and her kids coming here on Christmas day and my sister and her family on December 26th.  I had to decorate, at least to a certain degree.   I got my tree up, some decorations out in that room and my kitchen, and called it done.  It wasn’t fun this year.  It was just a process that I did, a duty I performed.

My granddaughter, Alexandria, had her first birthday, and as is our tradition my daughter came over with cake and we had a celebration here at the house.  Except Ron wasn’t here to see Alex turn one.   She will never remember him on her own.  My grandsons are trying to understand death, heaven, what it means when a person is gone from their lives.  Both were extremely close to Ron.  They know something has changed but haven’t quite grasped what it means.

I am trying to do what is normal, what we have always done.  I attended a Christmas potluck at Studio 1219 where we both have our photography, have been members for years and have done a lot of volunteering.  I was fine when I arrived, until I walked into the room where everyone was, all those familiar faces, and had to take a couple deep breaths to get control of my emotions.

DSC_4322

Alexandria’s First Birthday

Tonight I am going to the Christmas party / meeting of the Blue Water Shutterbug Camera Club, another organization Ron and I have both been heavily involved in for the past eleven years.  I am closer to this group of people than to those at the studio.  It is a fun group.  Hopefully I can keep a grasp on myself and get through tonight without a problem.

So I got to work.  I try to remember to do things here at home, such as bring in and open mail, that were always handled by Ron.  I make calls to notify life insurance, pension, and others of his death.  I wrote his obituary.  I prepare for the Celebration of Life that will be held in March.

I go through the motions of life, but inside I feel numb, empty, lonely.  It is a process.  An adjustment.

 

 

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Filed under Coping, death, Family, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir

Deeply Disturbed

What is going on in this country?  Why over the past 20 years has there been an increase in violence among young people?  Why does there seem to be an increase in racial profiling?  Why after fighting so long for equal rights are women now using sex to promote themselves and products?  I find it disturbing that we seem to have taken a giant step backwards in this country in many ways.Racism

If you look back 30-50 years youth were not gunning each other down.  While there may have been fights, young people were not going into schools armed with guns and killing fellow classmates and teachers.  We did not have the drive-by shootings and gang violence we have today.  You could walk into a McDonalds, shopping mall, and most importantly, a church or school and not have to be concerned about the possibility of a gunman coming in and opening fire.    Today no where is safe, even those locations designed for children.    Children are innocent, they do not see color, they are not violent, and yet they are growing up to be.  Their beliefs are shaped by the people around them, the adults they watch and learn from, and they are learning to be violent and racially discriminatory.Racism - no one is born hating another

What I find very disturbing is the number of incidents in which police officers act violently against citizens, especially those of a non-white race.  The officers seem unable to maintain control of a situation, there have been many shootings lately of unarmed persons, including teens.  Then Grand Juries refuse to indict those officers and this serves to fuel further anger and violent acts.  The fact that the majority of those incidents involve white officers and people of African American descent ads fuel to the fire.  There are other acts of violence based on race, the most recent being the fraternity in Oklahoma caught on video degrading those of black heritage.  Why all these years after Rosa Parks sat on a bus, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech, and numerous other acts to equalize the rights of blacks in this country are we experiencing so much racial violence?

Feminist - what it meansWe seem to have taken a turn backwards, we are no longer a country in which people are achieving equality.  In the 60’s and 70’s women battled for equal rights in the workforce, they changed the way they dressed to allow themselves to fit into a “mans world” and achieved great things.  Women can now obtain positions that were once considered exclusively for men — women now serve in congress, they work as attorneys, judges, doctors, police officers, airline pilots and serve in the military.    The accomplishments have allowed women to once again display their feminine side while maintaining power.  However it seems to have fallen overboard and we have gone from showing a feminine side to using sex to sell anything and everything on TV, in the radio, on the internet.    Why are women allowing themselves to be degraded in this way after so many fought against it?

Democracy by Abraham LincolnThe United States is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and religions.  It is a country developed on Christian beliefs, but willing to accept those of all different religions.  Its founding fathers were white, but established guidelines so people of all nationalities could immigrate legally and become citizens.   We have overcome sexual inequality.  We have taken great strides in overcoming racial inequality, but still have farther to go.  This country has accomplished great things, but is now on the decline.   What we have become is not a county that is accepting of other peoples and beliefs, but a county that is allowing itself to be destroyed by allowing those standards and beliefs to be eliminated under the guise of acceptance.   The morals, beliefs, and religion that this country was built on is what has held it together for centuries, but if those standards are not re-established this country will fail.

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Filed under decisions, environmental, friendship, Life Changing, reality, time

Tossed Turkey and Dog Food

This year our Thanksgiving meal was unique.  We had tossed turkey and dog food.  I know, not everyone can enjoy such unusual holiday fare, but then it takes a special talent to come up with such things.

When I removed the turkey from the oven it was a picture perfect golden brown, the stuffing displayed in a perfect mound between the legs and I knew it was done because the little plastic thermometer had popped.  I asked my daughter to steady the pan while I lifted out the bird.  All was going well until the darn thing fell apart as I was lifting, so I only had half a bird as I moved it over the serving platter.  Then the inevitable happened.  Before I got the 1/2 bird placed on the platter it too fell apart, flipping around in mid air and landing upside down on the platter with its two winds spread as if in flight and displaying its ripped apart belly.  Caroline and I were laughing hysterically as I stabbed and managed to flip the bird back over.  We then tried to remove the remaining half a bird from the pan, but everything kept just falling off the bone so the other half of the platter was a jumbled mess of turkey and a mound of stuffing.  Of course everyone knew we were having a bit of an issue so when my tossed turkey was placed on the table, it was good for a laugh.  Little did we know the best was yet to come.

Corbin, who is 3 years old, took one look at that mound of stuffing on that platter and said “Dog Food, No!” and went to the other end of the table.

That announcement of his impression of my cooking got me to laughing so hard I was choking.    How can you argue with the observation of a 3 year old?  You can’t.  No matter what we said, no matter who ate what, Corbin was not going to be fooled by anyone and he was not going to eat that dog food, nor was he going to eat any meat that had been placed on the same platter as the “dog food”.  It just wasn’t happening.

Although they would never have won a Betty Crocker award for appearance, the turkey and dressing were tasty.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were a bit on the lumpy side but everything else was fine.  When the meal was over my daughter, Caroline, and her boyfriend, Rob, left Cobrin with us while they went out to begin Black Friday shopping at 4 pm on Thanksgiving Day.  While I was tackling the kitchen cleanup Ron and Corbin both fell asleep on the couch for a nap.

I knew this Thanksgiving would be a little different.  This is the first time my 8-year old grandson, Austin, would be with his father for Thanksgiving and not our family.   My husband, Ron, has been undergoing chemo and radiation for cancer of the esophagus and it has reduced his tumor enough that he was actually able to consume a small bit of dinner.    No elegant table cloth, elaborate center pieces or fancy clothes.  Just a tossed turkey and some dog food, but nonetheless a fun, memorable Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was memorable too.

 

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Filed under children, Family, food, grandchildren, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

Impression v. Reality

We all have an impression in our mind of what certain people should look like or behave like. Impressions that are imbedded in our minds from past experiences, misconceptions or any other wide range of factors. When we meet someone who does not meet the criteria our mind has set forth the reality is quite shocking. Chances are everyone who is reading this post has either been the subject of or subjected someone else to impressions that do not match reality.

Photo found on the internet that depicts the writer's impression of "grandma"

Photo found on the internet that depicts the writer’s impression of “grandma”

When I think of the term “grandmother” I picture my own grandmothers, grey haired ladies who did their hair with pin curls, wore full length aprons, never worked, never drove a car, and were great cooks.  That is the image that always comes to mind for grandmother, but I and numerous friends are the living reality that that is not the case now.  Modern day grandmothers work full time, drive cars, travel, are involved in activities, and although some of us may be great cooks we do not wear aprons.   So why can’t I shake the image in my mind of what a grandmother should look like?   Because that is what my grandmothers looked like and it is most likely what most grandmothers looked like in that era, but it is no longer the reality.

Motorcycle Gear - a photo of my friend Vicki dressed to ride.  Photo obtained from her Facebook page.

Motorcycle Gear – a photo of my friend Vicki dressed to ride. Photo obtained from her Facebook page.

My husband and I participating in a poker run.

My husband and I participating in a poker run.

What does a biker look like?  Back when I was in physical therapy following my motorcycle accident, one of the other patients asked what happened to me and when I told her she responded “You don’t look like a biker.”     She thought that people who rode motorcycles were always dressed in their leather vests, coats and biker boots.  I explained to her that people who ride motorcycles only dress that way when they are riding, but they are ordinary people who hold a variety of jobs, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, etc. and they wear normal, everyday clothing suitable to their profession.   When I was riding I did encounter people who treated me differently when I was dressed in my motorcycle gear, to the extent that I would say some were nervous.    What was funny was had I approached them without the leather vest or jacket they would likely have treated me the same as they were others.  Regardless of my clothing I was the same person.  People allow their minds to cloud reality and the impression they have set in their minds can cause them to prejudge.

handicap parkingI recently read a person’s letter to the editor in a newspaper in which the writer was commenting on a person who entered the McDonald’s he was at and voiced an objection about a non-handicap marked vehicle being parked in a handicap spot.  The writer was the person who had parked in that spot, did not have the state-mandated handicap tag but was on crutches and parked there.  In referencing the person that had objected to the spot being taken, the writer stated he “seemed to have nothing wrong with him other than being a bit overweight.”    What classifies a person as being handicapped?  They do not have to have an obvious physical disability that stands out and screams “I am handicapped.”  Persons who have obtained handicap markings for their vehicles have to obtain a doctor’s note specifying why they need handicap designation and then that document goes to the Secretary of State to obtain the appropriate tag for the vehicle.   Most people who do not know me do not realize that I have been in an accident and have a handicap parking designation on my vehicle.  I worked very hard to not have a limp after my accident, so when I walk into a building people do not realize that under my slacks I am wearing a compression sock and either a leather boot that supports my ankle or an ankle brace and that my ankle almost always has some level of swelling.    I have mastered the technique of getting in and out of my car so that people do not realize that to exit my vehicle I have to be able to open my car door all the way to put both feet firmly on the ground before standing up or that to get back into the vehicle I have to open the door all the way to get my left leg in a specific position to sit down.    My disabilities are for the most part not detected by the general viewer.  Therefore the impression of what a handicapped person is and whether or not they should be using a designated handicap parking tab and the reality of what may qualify a person for such a designation can be very different.

A wedding ceremony.  Photo by Grace Grogan

A wedding ceremony. Photo by Grace Grogan

I recently photographed a wedding in which I was shocked when I realized who the minister/pastor  was.  My impression of a clergyman is someone who is conservative, soft spoken, and always uses a traditional version of the bible.  Wrong!  The pastor/minister that conducted the ceremony was a very nice person, but did not fit my mind’s impression at all.    He was tattooed, had some piercings and used an electronic pad instead of a traditional bible.   I was very surprised when I realized he was the person officiating the ceremony and not a guest.   Had I met him on the street I would never believed he was a minister/pastor.  The combination of the handicap posting and my surprise at the minister/pastor’s appearance at the wedding is what led to the creation of this post.

Impression v. Reality can be a fun experience if you accept that what you mind thinks is correct may not be accurate.  The experience of learning how the mind plays tricks on you can be very enlightening.   If you have experienced the surprise of Impression v. Reality please share you experience here.

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Filed under assumptions, decisions, handicapp, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, reality

I’m Hooked

I’ve battled it for years, refused to convert, held to the old ways, but now I am hooked.  How did this happen?  I have allowed myself to be influenced by those around me and finally decided to take the plunge and although still encountering some rough water, I am keeping myself afloat most of the time.

What am i referring to?  The scary and dangerous transformation from a traditional flip phone to a smart phone.  In my case, I went with the Apple IPhone.  After I made that decision and proudly announced my conversion I had some people tell me I should have gone with an android or a windows based phone, but being it is my first, I am doing okay and seem to have made a wise choice for me.

What I have found is nothing makes you feel dumber than a smart phone.    Everything you do when setting it up requires a password, and trying to type on a tiny screen keyboard can be challenging at best.  Finally discovered the pinky finger serves that purpose best, only to discover that those darn automatic fill-ins for words can make for some weird messages if you aren’t paying attention.

A major challenge — my ringer has no sound.  I was baffled.  It worked when I got the phone and for several days after, then suddenly gone.  I checked and I had the volume on high, the ringer tone selected for all features, calls, text messages, etc.  When a message or call came in I received a vibration but no sound, nothing.  I can play a video and it has sound, so I know the speakers are working.  My daughter has a smart phone, android based, and she stopped over so I had her try to help me figure it out.  We checked menus, verified settings, made test calls, but no sound.  In walks her boyfriend, looks at the phone and flips a slide button on the side of the phone and what happens – the ringer now works!  An unbelievable neat feature that turns the ringer sounds off with the slide of a button had dumbfounded me and my daughter for more than 30 minutes.    Nothing makes you feel dumber than a smart phone!

One of the fun advantages is the built in video and camera that allows you to take a shot and immediately post what you are doing to Facebook….and who can deny the fun of a “selfie.”   Fun, Fun, Fun!    Although I always said I had no desire to be connected on a regular basis to everything and everyone, I find myself glancing at the news feeds that come in from the local TV station and newspaper, and I do occasionally glance at the update run of Facebook postings without opening the actual website.    I have found that scanning Facebook or playing a game of solitaire while watching TV is a handy form of multi-tasking, making me at least feel somewhat productive while in a stagnated couch-potato state.

I do however have unexplored territory and ongoing challenges.  I have seen those little squares you are supposed to be able to take a photo of with your phone to access additional information, I have taken pictures but get no info.  What is the trick to that?  I have never used Face Time, have no idea what Safari is, and wonder if I will someday use all the features that are on my screen.  Why is it when I want to place a call or send a text message I get a list of all my email contacts, not just my phone contacts?   While I’m looking at things I accidentally call someone when I had no intention of doing that.  I don’t have to butt dial anyone, I can do it with the phone firmly in my hand and still not know what is going on.   Little challenges that I will hopefully tackle over time.

Life is a Melting Pot of unexplored territory, new adventures and technology.  I have adventured into the smart phone world and can guarantee I have no interest in turning back now.    If I could only feel smarter than the phone, that is the challenge!

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Filed under Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, technology

Why didn’t I do it?

Back when I was a kid I loved to write.  I would write long letters to my grandparents, I had several pen-pals in various countries, one I remain in contact with still, and I would write stories.  A class that many disliked in high school but I enjoyed was composition, and for my final writing assignment in that class I wrote an article on child abuse.  Horrifying information, but if I remember correctly I got an A on the paper.   I wanted to become an onsite news reporter.  Getting out and seeing what is going on in the world and writing about it.  Active, interesting.  Why didn’t I?Regret - our past makes us who we are

I didn’t go to college for journalism because I allowed my mother to influence my decision.  This was back in the 1970’s and equalization in jobs and society’s view on women and certain careers was still very negative.  My mother told me that journalism wasn’t a good career for a person who wanted to have a family because if I became an onsite reporter I would have to pick up and go at all the times, would never have a family, and I should go into a more stable career such as secretarial.    For some reason I let her thoughts on journalism as a career influence my decision and I went into clerical work.

Clerical work has served me well.  I have worked as a clerk typist, administrative assistant, secretary, office manager, and after returning to college am now a paralegal.  I like office work, but I have often times regretted that decision not to pursue my chosen career back when I was younger.  I have dabbled in writing over the years, though.

Back when my children were young I took a correspondence course on writing magazine articles for children and loved it.  Unfortunately I was also working full time as an office manger, held various volunteer positions and had two children who were also involved in extra curricular activities.  I never managed to find time to do the writing I wanted.  Then after my children were older I participated in a writing group at a local art studio for a while, but that didn’t provide the outlet I wanted.

In 2004 I moved to St. Clair County and became a member of the family history group.  A few years later the newsletter editor decided to give up her position and I took it over and still hold that title today.    As newsletter editor I select material for the newsletter, write some articles, layout the paper and handle the mailing.

In 2011 The Lakeshore Guardian, a local free newspaper, was looking for someone to write a monthly column on genealogy and my column  Who Am I? was born.  They recently developed an online access and some of my more recent columns can now be viewed on their website.

Writing - If a story is in you it has to come outMy husband and I have been trying to adopt our two granddaughters who went into foster care in 2010 and the parental rights were terminated in 2012.  We immediately applied to adopt and have been involved in a very frustrating situation ever since.  The youngest child was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption, a heartbreaking loss, and I did a Shutterfly book after she was lost to adoption called KAE-LEE JOY GROGAN:  Forever in our Hearts. We continue striving to obtain visits with and adopt the older child, Kiley Grogan, who has severe mental, physical and visual handicaps.  She is a precious little girl who we want desperately to be returned to our family.    I have discovered that our story is unfortunately not uncommon.  People have been waging similar battles for years and I have decided that the public needs to be aware and am in the process of writing a book that tells what has happened to us and our beautiful granddaughters.

I was just accepted to a position as an opinion columnist for The Times Herald, a local newspaper.  Me along with with five other new columnists were announced in their June 26th edition and my first column was published on July 9th, Michigan Gun Owners Deserve a Measure of Confidentiality.  Being an opinion columnist is a new and exciting adventure and I am looking forward to the challenge.

When I started writing the book mentioned above I found a freelance writers group that deals with the business end of writing.  One of the first things I heard in that group is that writers should have blogs.  A blog helps you connect with people and gets them familiar with your writing style.  That was the reason I began this blog.  I did have a hard time with it though, because so many blogs deal with one topic or area of interest, and I like to write about all kinds of things and didn’t want to be locked into one format and at the same time didn’t want to juggle numerous blogs.  That was how I came up with the name of my blog “Life is a Melting Pot.”  That title leaves me free to write about anything and everything, including my other interest as a photographer, for which I manage a Facebook page Times Gone By Photography and have a website of my photos on Fine Art America, Times Gone By Photography:  Grace Grogan.  Writing - desire to write grows with writing

What I have found is the more I write, the easier and more enjoyable it gets.  When I look back now at my desire to become a journalist when I was making career choices in 1977/78 I think “Why didn’t I do it?”   I can’t go back now and do it over, but it is never to late to start a writing career.   While I no longer desire to be an on-sight breaking news reporter/journalist, one thing always on my mind is that Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her 60’s when she began writing the Little House books.  Her mid to late life start is an inspiration and has played in the back of my mind for years.

Now to my writing…..

 

 

 

 

 

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LIFE ALTERING IMPACT

I open my eyes, drop ceiling?  I glance to the right, hospital?  I look to the left to see my husband, Ron, sitting on a chair.

“What happened to us?”

Ron looks up, “You were in an accident.”

Ron had been at the hospital for three nights, waiting until I was awake and aware of what was going on before leaving to go home.  By the time we had the above conversation I had already undergone two of three surgeries.  My third surgery would not be for about another week.  This was the beginning of what would be a long recovery and adjustment to a “new normal” that to this day, four years later, is still changing.

May 29, 2010 was a warm and sunny day.  I was a college student and rode my motorcycle to Baker College in Auburn Hills for class that morning, over an hour away.  After I returned home to St. Clair Ron and I rode to The Feast of the St. Claire, an annual re-enactment event held every Memorial Day weekend in Port Huron.   We were on the way home, riding side by side down Electric Avenue, the one way southbound portion of M-29 in Port Huron.  As we approached the 16th Street intersection Ron slowed for a second to look at something and I continued forward.  That is the last thing I remember until I woke up in the hospital.

As I was going through the intersection a vehicle that had been on Military Street, the northbound portion of M-29, cut across 16th street (about two lots wide), failed to stop and hit me full force.  The driver was young, 17 years old with his girlfriend in the car.  He told my husband and the police he was sorry, he didn’t know he was supposed to stop.  Months later when I looked at the intersection I was baffled by his claim.  He missed two stop signs (on on the right, one on the left), plus a hanging red blinking light with a stop sign attached to it.    Ron told me there were no skid marks at the scene.  The accident happened so fast Ron panicked when he heard it and looked forward, locked up his brakes and hit the back end of the car, rolling on the pavement and was later treated for road rash.  I was unconscious on the scene.  My motorcycle had continued on a southbound path while my body had flown in a northerly direction, what I was later told is a sign of a severe impact.

I was transported by ambulance to Mercy Hospital.  After about two hours they informed Ron that they were unable to handle my injuries at that location and that I might loose my leg.   I was flown to the trauma center at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where Ron and our daughter arrived just in time for him to sign the permission slip for my first surgery.  They were told I might loose my foot.  Due to the skill of two phenomenal surgeons I have both my leg and my foot.  At one of my first check-ups after I was released from the hospital I was looking at the x-rays and made a comment that my leg was a mess when I arrived at the hospital.  One of the surgeons looked at me and said “You were a challenge.”

When you suffer a severe trauma the life altering impact is instant and ongoing.  While in the hospital my injuries prevented me from being able to even lift the cover off my meals when they were delivered.    Prior to my third surgery the ankle surgeon visited me in the room and placed an X on my left foot with a magic marker indicating the side for surgery.  I laughed and told him I would think the huge wrap-around brace on my left leg that ran from my thigh down the entire leg and included the foot would be indication enough.

Photo taken June 21, 2010, only four days after my transfer from the hospital to Medilodge.

Photo taken June 21, 2010, only four days after my transfer from Hurley Hospital to Medilodge.

Eventually I was cleared to leave the hospital and a list of rehabilitation facilities, which are basically combination nursing homes and medical rehabilitation, were provided.  Ron made phone calls and had a hard time finding a location to accept me.  Some considered me non-rehabilitative because I was non-weight bearing on three limbs, others considered me too young.  Finally Medilodge in St. Clair agreed to take me as a patient and I was transported there by ambulance.  The start of recovery.

Medilodge assigned appropriate occupational, physical, and speech therapists to work with me.   The speech therapist was not because of any difficulty talking, but I had suffered a slight Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and as a result was having difficulty with some cognitive processing.  I also was non-weight bearing on three limbs, my right arm had suffered a severe dislocation and was in a brace that immobilized it, and we later discovered the right shoulder was also fractured.  My left hand was in a cast for what was called a game-keepers fracture near the thumb.  As such both arms were non-weight bearing, I couldn’t even wheel my own wheelchair.   My other injuries included a fractured rib, fractured left hip, and my left leg had three breaks, the left ankle had two breaks.   My three surgeries were for the purpose of doing titanium implants from my left hip ball across to the center leg, then down the leg to just above the knee, from below the knee to the ankle, and then two plates and numerous screws in the ankle.

It is amazing what you can learn to do when challenged.  One of the first things my physical therapist started me on was stomach crunches, with my arms across my chest so I would not be tempted to use them for leverage.  By building my abdominal muscles I was soon able to stand up and balance using my right leg only, no pressure or assistance from my arms and no weight on my left leg.    Hold your left leg slightly off the ground, do not touch the arms of your chair and stand up and maintain your balance using only your right leg.    In a chair of the appropriate height I can still accomplish this today.  As for the stomach crunches, the last time I tried I did 25, but at one time I could easily do 50-75 non-stop.

Life at Medilodge became a daily routine of learning things, building my strength and as soon as one task was accomplished, beginning to work on the next.  Once my left hand was cleared to bear weight I learned to operate my wheelchair with my left hand and right foot.  Then my right arm was cleared and I could now do two-handed wheelchair operation.  I had enjoyed the sedate life enough, and if the hallway was clear I would roll my wheelchair as fast as I could to the end, then grab the wheels quickly to slow enough to make the corner.  Small thrills in an environment where most people were at least thirty years older than I was.

Once both arms were able to bear weight I was taught to use an old fashioned metal walker, hopping while holding my left leg up and not putting any weight on it.  The leg was in a full brace that weighed 5 lbs.  How do I know this?  Because my therapist had her hand under my foot and thought I was putting weight down.  I told her it had to be the weigh of the brace so we had me sit and put my foot portion on a scale – 5 lbs!   Once I had mastered climbing platform steps with the walker and could go a fair distance down the hall with the walker it was time to evaluate me going home.

The therapists that worked with me did a home inspection where they noted changes that would have to make so that it was safe for me to come home.  Ron had to build several platform steps 4″ high and large enough for me and my walker to hop up and down going in and out of the house.  All throw rugs had to come off the floor and furniture had to be rearranged to allow my wheel chair and walker to traverse through various parts of the home.   Our over the range mounted microwave was considered unsafe for me to operate so  counter top microwave was purchased for me to use.  A hospital bed was ordered for our front room because I was not yet weight bearing on the leg and unable to climb the flight of stairs to our upper level bedroom.    These are just a few of the adjustments that were made to the home to accommodate my needs.  Once I got home additional re-arranging was done so that my computer, printer, and various other items I used on a regular basis became fixtures on our kitchen table and counters.

Photo taken September 11, 2010, about three weeks after I was discharged from Medilodge.  Much improved but still a long way to go.

Photo taken September 11, 2010, about three weeks after I was discharged from Medilodge. Much improved but still a long way to go.

I left Medilodge and returned home August 17, 2010, but my recovery was still not complete.  I would have another year of physical therapy, doctor appointments for my leg and ankle, and a ENT for vertigo that developed as a result of the accident.  In September 2010 I was cleared to put weight on the leg as pain tolerated.  By January 2011 I was walking “heavy” on a 4-prong cane.  It was not until April 2011 that I began slowly climbing the steps to our upper level, and it was also April 2011 that I began driving again.  By spring 2012 I was completely off the cane.  During the period of my recovery Ron handled all household duties, assisted in my wound care, drove me to all my doctor and therapy appointments, plus drove me to college twice a week,  staying all day and coming to the room at the end of each class to transport my books from location to location.    An accident does not just alter the life of the person injured, it also alters the life of those around them who assist in their care.

Even with all those challenges, I managed to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Baker College with my Associates Degree on schedule , and was also awarded the honor of Outstanding Student.   The internship I had to do to complete my degree evolved into a full time Paralegal position that I continue to hold today.  This is now the four-year anniversary of my accident, and it is only in the past few months that I have had a harder time accepting the impact the accident is having on my life and abilities.

I had continued to improve physically until the summer of 2013 when I began having trouble with my ankle swelling severely, sometimes bad enough to require the use of my cane.  A trip to my ankle surgeon revealed that from the severe impact of the accident my ankle has developed degenerative arthritis, meaning that it will continue to deteriorate and at some point will become severe enough to require an ankle fusion.  The reality is that I will never again be able to spend hours on my feet at special events, amusement parks, the zoo, or other similar locals without ending up with severe swelling and pain.  I can’t make mad dashes in the pouring rain from building to car.  I have to ascend and descend steps one step at a time, not in the normal left-right stepping motion.  These and many other things that people never really think about as they live their day-to-day lives will never again be the same for me.  Will I continue to make improvements?  I assume that in some areas I will.  I will also have more challenges and limitations over time.   On the positive side, such a life altering event can affect your outlook on life, what is important, what isn’t, and you learn to be adaptable to whatever challenge you face.

Why do I tell this story?  Because I hope to impress on people that even a moment of not paying attention can have a severe and permanent life altering impact on someone else’s life.   Please stay alert and focused.

 Have you or someone you know had a life altering experience?
Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Family, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Uncategorized, Writing

Life is Like A Camera

Life is Like A Camera

Over the course of our marriage my husband and I, as well as our children, have experienced many ups and downs. Somehow we always manage to pick up the pieces and keep going. Ron and I are also photographers so when my best friend saw this saying she ordered it for me to put on my wall. The photos below it relate to the saying itself: Develop from the Negatives = me during recovery from an accident; Focus on the Good Times = our daughter, Caroline, and son, Patrick, at Caroline’s wedding; and when things don’t work out, take another shot = we were motorcycle riders, and when I was in a bad accident and the bikes were totaled, we purchased a motor home to use instead of motorcycles.

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March 12, 2014 · 5:46 am