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Why this journey?

Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.

I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now!  How different my whole life would have been.

You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.

I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.

The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.

So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.

Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?

All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.

All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.

A letter to my grandchildren #3

There will be many people in your lives. Every person you interact with is unique.

Family

family-sayingsFrom your first breath you have been part of a family. It is a good family. This is a wonderful blessing. There are so many different kinds of families and you have been blessed with one that is loving and caring. That is not true for everyone. Does this mean that your family is perfect? Absolutely not! We have our quirks and failings. You will like some members of the family more than others and it’s ok. We can’t find agreement  with everyone and that is true of family too. I have always believed that family is important. When the chips are down you should be able to count on your family. From what I know about our family this is true.  You may have done something you are not proud of. You may have hurt someone. You may think no one will understand and accept you. This is not true. Members of our family may be upset but we will never turn our backs on you. You are loved more than words can say and always will be. NO MATTER WHAT.

Friends

good friendsFriends are one of the most important things in life. A true friend will stick with you through thick and thin. Take the time to make friends and keep the communication lines open between you. Friendship can last a lifetime if you nurture it. Don’t let grass grow up on the path between you.

Acquaintances

True friends are few but acquaintances are many. You will meet many, many people in your lifetime. Some will be a positive influence and some will not. Don’t let the negative ones stay. They will drag you down with them. Life is too short to suffer negative people. Sometimes you will not recognize them right away but when you feel that drag pulling you down let them go. They are not worth the trouble.

Work and People

inspiring happy workplace quotesWherever you work there will be a variety of people. Some will make your work easier and your days better….some will not. It may be harder to shake off the problem people in that environment.. You may have a bad boss or a co-worker who tries to stab you in the back. Work is necessary in this life and some environments are difficult to live through. Remember to keep your eye on the big picture. If things are bad…Can you change jobs? Can you move departments? If not function in the best way you can. Kindness with others is always the best policy even if they don’t reciprocate. Meanwhile keep your eyes open for a better place to work.  Your relative, Jenny, says you need two out of three things (at least) in a job. 1. A great salary 2. A wonderful work environment 3. A job you love. If you don’t have at least two it is time to move on.

Are there still good people?

People are always interesting. You never know what you may find. I have learned that getting to know what is inside a person can make an amazing difference. Sometimes we think that someone is a terrible person only to find out that they are living with some really difficult things that have caused them much pain. Their behavior may be a reflection of that and not what you see on the surface. Don’t judge until you know the truth.

Good-people

We hear so many bad things today and it makes us think there is no good any more but this is not true. So many people are loving and giving. You just don’t hear about them. It is our love for our fellow humans that makes the world a livable place. Continue to reach out with caring and goodness will follow.

For a better world

In some of my recent reading I came across an interesting fact. As a Christian I have learned about original sin….the sin that came from the mistakes of Adam and Eve. However, the history of this idea was not originally connected to Jesus. It was not know in the very early church. It was not a doctrine accepted by either the Jewish faith or Islam. It is another doctrine that was hammered out when the early church was struggling to keep some cohesiveness of ideas.

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Several communities of Christians developed ideas that others saw as heading the wrong way and tried to wipe out what they considered heresy. The struggles led to the Council of Nicea where many church fathers sat down to come to some agreement. Many doctrines of Christianity came from this meeting.

The interesting thing to me is that things we have been taught as “truth” may have a different beginning than we realized. It shows how what we learn from those around us can be colored by their viewpoint.

Reaching back into time to find the history of concepts we have learned may bring a different perspective entirely.

Prejudices_quote_ZMSS

Not too long ago I saw a program that had people tell about their backgrounds and explore some of the prejudices they had about those from different cultures. countries, and races. They then had their DNA tested and it was interesting to discover that many of them had DNA in common with those they thought were different from them. It was, for them, a wake-up call to re-examine what they had been taught.

Never be afraid to explore the birth of customs and ideas. We may find that their beginnings are not what we thought. If, by doing so, we could discard some of our learned prejudices we may create a better world.

 

Danger, danger! -Disease outbreaks

This post looks at an issue that has been largely overlooked by the press and, as far as I know, anyone else.

The issue of immigration has been a hot topic mostly dealing with undocumented people flooding into the country. As a nurse I see a glaring problem that doesn’t seem to be a consideration.

outbreak

In recent months there have been outbreaks of disease connected with the influx of migrants who have been hurried through the system. There has been little time for proper medical checks to have been done resulting in some serious outbreaks.

The scary part is that the immigrants could be carrying things that haven’t been see in this country for generations. Today most people are not vaccinated for diseases like Typhoid Fever, Small Pox, Yellow Fever, Malaria (no vaccine) and others. I had injections against some of these but the vaccinations have been dropped since these diseases have not recently been a problem for us. Some of the diseases we have very seldom seen in this country such as Dengue Fever.

TB is on the rise with versions that are highly resistant. Since some people continue to refuse vaccinations there have been cases of Polio and Measles.

 

Our medical system is not ready for a major outbreak of diseases we have considered eradicated or not a danger.

We have no idea what diseases are coming into our country. It has not been talked about. Have officials even thought of this? There is no knowing. We could be facing an epidemic of epic proportions. Are we ready?

infectious_diseases

Below are news clips that document outbreaks that have, more or less, flown under the radar.

Florida:

As state health officials investigate the source, Hepatitis A continues to spread in Florida with 119 new cases in the last week.

The new cases bring the state total to 883, with most reported incidents of the disease in Pasco and Pinellas counties. Miami-Dade (13), Broward (8) and Palm Beach (5) counties now have a combined 26 cases, up slightly from 19 a week ago. Statewide, case counts in 2019 already have surpassed those in 2018.

(Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and affect your liver’s ability to function.

You’re most likely to get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that’s infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment. Most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.

Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk.) from the Mayo Clinic

Los Angeles:

Government officials in Los Angeles are considering ripping out all carpets in city buildings amid a typhus outbreak that has infected workers.

The disease is typically caused by infected fleas, which hitch rides on rats, and their feces. It can also be spread by cats and opossums, according to health officials. Downtown Los Angeles has been battling an outbreak since October that was linked to homeless street encampments, officials said.

(Murine typhus, also called endemic typhus or flea-borne typhus, is a disease caused by a bacteria called Rickettsia typhi. Murine typhus is spread to people through contact with infected fleas. People get sick with murine typhus when infected flea feces are rubbed into cuts or scrapes in the skin. In most areas of the world, rats are the main animal host for fleas infected with murine typhus. Murine typhus occurs in tropical and subtropical climates around the world where rats and their fleas live. Cat fleas found on domestic cats and opossums have been associated with cases of murine typhus in the United States. Most cases of murine typhus in the United States are reported in people from California, Hawaii, and Texas.) from the CDC

Texas: This one hit the news only because of a death. I haven’t heard if the type of flu has been identified. “Flu” covers a lot of illnesses from not dangerous to deadly.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has stopped taking detainees at its main processing center in McAllen, Tex., after identifying “a large number” of migrants suffering from flulike symptoms, the agency announced late Tuesday. The move comes one day after a teenage migrantwho had been held at the facility died after being diagnosed with the flu.

“To avoid the spread of illness, the Rio Grande Valley Sector has temporarily suspended intake operations at the [Central Processing Center],” CBP said in a statement. “Individuals apprehended in RGV Sector will be held at other locations until this situation is resolved.”

Medical staff at the center identified migrants in custody with high fevers and exhibiting “signs of a flu-related illness,” and they are now receiving medical treatment, CBP said.

 

 

 

Advocate for yourself

If we are blessed we gain wisdom as we age. Sometimes those we encounter tap into that wisdom and are (hopefully) helped by it. I have been an extrovert my whole life and am always willing to share. (Sometimes both the person I share with and I wish it had never happened.) Wisdom is best imparted when asked for.

Consider-the-Source

I have talked often on this blog about how much it means for us to share our experiences with each other. Professionals are important but sometimes good advice comes from those whose experiences are similar to ours. All advice must be weighed against our own experiences and our insight into ourselves. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up for yourself when in the presence of “professionals” who may or may not really understand. You are allowed to ask questions and take some time to consider. You are your best advocate.

When working in pediatrics I listened carefully to the mothers who came to us. Sometimes others don’t listen carefully enough and may miss important clues that make a big difference. Doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists hear so much that sometimes they can leap to the wrong conclusions. Don’t let them rush. (especially doctors) Make sure you have the time you need. If that doesn’t work for them find someone else.

advocate

You are important. Your thoughts and feelings are important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Kindness?

detectiveI love reading the stories about the “No 1 Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith. Not only are the stories wonderful but there is enormous wisdom contained in each one. He writes about a time, in Botswana, when the “old ways” were being eroded by new ideas. The wisdom of the old culture is being replaced by less caring and courtesy….less connection with your “brothers and sisters.”

The loss of that kind of culture has been left behind a long time ago in my world. I am sure it is the result of many changes…..people leaving the land and moving to cities, not knowing your neighbors, having no relatives close by….etc. etc. It is unfortunate that this has happened. Things were not perfect in the past but I do think the world around me was more courteous.

common-courtesy

My daughter spent time in Japan as an exchange student. She became aware of the courtesy of the people and their respect for others. Their world is also not perfect but I think living so close together has created an environment of an awareness of personal space and respect for others feelings. I hope that it is not eroding there also.

Courtesy is a gesture of kindness to others. Saying please and thank you are not outdated. Respecting others feelings shows caring. I see so many acts that express an attitude of thinking only of oneself. Cars drive in our neighborhood with radios blaring so loudly it surely damages the ears of the driver. People step ahead of you in line and glare at you when you seem surprised.

It has become quite common for cell phones to ring in places that are not appropriate. People answer their phones while eating with others ignoring those they are with.

Singa_the_Courtesy_LionI know I am seeing things from a different perspective but courtesy improves our environment. As the population grows we will be living even closer together. Will we end up hating each other for our attitudes or will we finally learn how much kindness matters?

 

Again with the change?

Today I am back from traveling again.’I think that traveling lowered my immunity and I am coming down with a cold. Always something to add to life. This too will pass. I’ve been at my other daughter’s home because of a baby shower for my grandson and his wife. Life is always messy. The odds of everything being perfect are astronomical. 

The shower was wonderful. Everything it should have been but….. as always expanding families create issues with change. I am going to be ever hopeful and hope that they work themselves out.

As we get older, we tend to look at the big picture. Life, hopefully, is long with much time to tweek things so that they work out. I live always with hope and some positive vibes.

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As usual, change always rocks the boat. Most of us don’t really like change. Me too! I would be happy if things just kept on as they are but that is not realistic. Sometimes change is good and sometimes not. We do have to try to roll with the flow but sometimes that is so hard. The trick for is to try not to look too far ahead. I have to keep reminding myself to take one day at at time…sometimes one minute at a time. Just keep going.

Watch! You may find wisdom

Each of us has a story. Story is so important. It sticks with us so much more than classes or text books. We often think of story as fiction but so many wonderful stories are true and the people were real. Some of the greatest learning experiences have been taught with the use of story. I had a history professor in college who said that good historical fiction taught us more about lives in the past than anything else.

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Story also comes from TV, movies and our own lives. Lately I seem to find great meaning in the oddest movies or programs.

I can’t begin to count the wisdom I have acquired in stories…. fiction and non-fiction. I often find a quote that I have to ponder on. I actually keep a handwritten quote book with things that have taught me or touched my heart. Here are several of my favorites:

Any man who thinks he can describe love understands nothing about it. From “The Gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson

To live is to dance in and out of the shadow of joy. From the blog “The Death Project.”

Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with sharp teeth. It will eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. From the movie “Amish Grace.”

We have the best system of government the world has ever seen but it is only as good as the people in charge. From the TV show “Madame Secretary.”

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Wisdom shows up in the most unexpected places. We have to pay attention to catch it. The things you learn are worth the effort.