Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Integrity Fund

My youngest adopted daughter and my foster son have been living in small group homes in the community for 20 years now (since they left Hissom behind).  The good news is that they have so much better lives now than I ever could have imagined.  My son has a part time job at a re-cycling center and last month he made enough money to cover all his living expenses.  He takes piano lessons, bowls on a team and swims.  He has autism and severe mental retardation and when he first came to live with our family at almost two years, he was so incredibly messed up that I would not have dared to even think about what his life would be like at almost 40.  What a blessing.  My daughter, too, has a much better life.  But there have been a lot of scary problems.  Her mother had Rubella when she was pregnant and as a result my daughter has all the possible disabilities from that - she's legally blind, totally deaf, has cerebral palsy and a bad seizure disorder.  No doubt she has mental retardation too but she's impossible to test.  The problems she's had mostly stem from the difficulty of finding staff to work with her that are willing to carry out the activities she needs to stay well and happy. 

After 20 years of frustration, I finally woke up to the realization that the people who work with her are not really paid a living wage.  Most of them just make minimum wage and many are single mothers.  Their lives are really difficult.  My daughter's life is much better than theirs - she has a reasonably nice house, nice furniture, good food, pretty clothes, and enjoyable activities.  Her medical care is good.  They don't have any of these things and yet I expect them to work hard and do everything for her.  So (and I think this is a God deal), I have realized I need to care as much about the well-being of the staff as I do about hers and be as strong an advocate for them as I am for her. 

I wish I could say that I've had many wonderful ideas about how to put this realization into action but I haven't.  Right now all I've thought up is fund raising to supplement the small amount they are paid.  So I'm throwing myself a 70th birthday party and since I already have everything I need in life - I'm asking people to contribute to an "Integrity Fund" which I will distribute to her staff on a monthly basis.  I also plan to have other fundraisers throughout the year.

Of course, if my memoir is a best seller I will be rich and will be able to double their salaries!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Birthdays to Me!

I've just passed my 70th birthday and my 28th sobriety birthday!  I owe thanks to many, many, many people and God for these celebrations.  Looking back at what I used to be like, there's no way I would have made it this far on my own.  I'm celebrating "decrepitude" because it's a stage of life I never imagined attaining.  The people who shared their wisdom with me in recovery programs, my loving family,  the professional counselors that helped me understand the sources of my misery and dump it, the doctors that repaired my body after the wreck, the physical therapists who restored my physical strength, the practitioners who assisted me in repairing my nervous system, the writers who have inspired me, other parents of kids with disabilities, personal friends and professional colleagues, and many others that I can't think of at the moment, all have made "decrepitude" possible and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.  Of course, the God of my understanding who held me in His hands and guided me (when I was paying attention) - I am so grateful.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Yesterday I spent the day in Joplin because I had gathered some items and cash to help the folks affected by the storm.  One of my classmates is a member of a church that has set up a "distribution center" where people can come and get replacements for some of the things they might need that were lost in the storm.  So that's where I took everything.  They were organized and even more organized than that.  They had an intake area where people dropped off the things they had brought.  The church's website had lists of what was needed.  The intake area volunteers put each item in the area where it belonged.  Periodically rented trucks came and took items to the distribution area where people could come to get what they needed. 

Each family that came was assigned a "personal shopper" who got the family a shopping cart(s) and took them to the tents that comprised the distribution area.  Each tent had a category of items with volunteers to help.  My classmate and I volunteered in the pet area which had dog, cat and bird food, collars and leashes, cat litter, etc.  Other tents had all kinds of non-perishable food, cleaning products, personal care items, over the counter medication, etc. 

On the way to the church we drove through part of the area that was hit by the storm.  It's hard to believe that something as unsubstantial as wind could create that kind of destruction.  It's odd but as I've lived my life, I've become less and less emotional about disaster.  I know quite a bit about what the people have been experiencing, but I'm somehow not very sad about it.  I've learned that there's no way to escape heartbreak and if you work at it and are lucky, you will be happier and more at peace on the other side of it.  That's what I wish for all of the people affected by the storm.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Serenity Project

"The trouble is STAYING clean, taming the pit bull that's been chewing on your innards your entire life, the one you've been bribing to stay out of your consciousness."  Peter Coyote. 

It's no use trying to be serene with inner conflicts lurking at the edge of consciousness determined to be dealt with.  Anyone who thinks recovery from the disease of addiction is about not using alcohol and drugs is way off the beam.  It's almost impossible to stay off them without serenity, and it's totally impossible to have serenity without self-awareness, self-examination and self-acceptance.  That's really why I spend so much time and effort on a daily basis with prayer, meditation, meetings, helping others, accepting help myself, etc.  Serenity and peace have never come from improving my environment, getting a better job, making the people around me into what I wanted them to be.  They've only come when I've done the work on myself.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Excitement at Walmart

Here's the story as best I understand it.  Some poor crazy guy with several guns kidnapped a guy in the little town called Prue and ended up with him at my Walmart market just a few blocks from my house.  He went into the Walmart, shot off a gun a few times, went into the parking lot and tried to hijack a car.  The occupant who was a Tulsa University student would not get out of the car so the guy just shot him in the head and moved on to a pickup with several people in it.  They all got out and the guy and his hostage drove off in the pickup.  By this time the whole area was covered with cops.  The guy crashed the pickup in the parking lot of a business across the street and started shooting at the cops.  Somehow the guy died in the shootout.  At this point no one is sure whether he shot himself or the cops shot him.  The hostage is okay. 

My thoughts were that we human beings have not figured out how to do life.  We'll never know now what was going on with the guy.  Besides I could have been at the Walmart but had decided to do that errand last on my list.  Once again it wasn't my time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Serenity Project

Day 5:  Much of what I'm studying these days has to do with how we human beings think.  Nothing I've read yet even gives me a theory as to why and how we first started thinking negatively but research shows human beings have a bias toward negativity.  The Four Agreements and subsequent books focus on the action to be taken rather than the why and how of it.  Don Miguel Ruiz who wrote the Four Agreements says we have a "parasite" in our minds that lives off the negative energy created from negative thinking.  The "parasite" is composed of a judge and a victim.  The judge constantly tells us we are not good enough and the victim takes it on the chin.  Don Miguel says that we're the only species that constantly attack ourselves about our mistakes - not just once but over and over for life.  We also attack each other for our mistakes - over and over and over.

Byron Katie also focuses on negative thinking as the source of all suffering.  Most of our thinking is negative - either we're worrying about the future or judging the past.  And most of our negative thoughts aren't even true.  We think they are when we're thinking them, but if we examine them, we see that they are false.  Katie's method of fighting back is to question the truth of the thought and then find truth in an opposite thought.  For example, if I'm thinking that a friend should not be late, I would ask myself if that's true.  Actually, I'm not God so I can't really say what someone else should be doing.  I'm not the author of the rules for every human on the earth.  Plus keeping my mind on how wrong my friend is keeps me from finding a solution.  Of course, I can ask him/her to be on time.  But if he/she is still late, then what?  Finding something I can do to fill the time while I wait might be one solution.  Another might be telling him/her that I will meet him/her at a time earlier than I intend to be there.  (This one is tricky, though.  It's pretty manipulative and people don't like that.  Plus it would be my luck that he/she would show up at the time I said and I would be the one that's late.)  The opposite thought might be, "He/she should be late."  That could be true - since something very important may have held him/her up.  Or another opposite thought might be, "I should not be late."  That could be true also.  By questioning the truth of my thoughts the "parasite" may get awfully tired of attacking me and give up!

The necessity is for me to keep myself aware of my thoughts.  Off and on through the day I can check and see what I'm thinking.  Good times for noticing are when I'm stopped at a stoplight, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting at the dentist's office - anytime when there's nothing much grabbing my attention and I can just notice my thoughts.  Very soon I will notice that the same worries and judgments run through my head over and over.  Boiled down to their essence, the thoughts are usually about my own or someone else's mistakes or unworthiness, and regardless of what someone told you - none of us are unworthy!

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