Find A Gain for Every Loss: A Lesson from our Post-Polio Wise Elders

Egads! This September 1st I am going to turn 70 years old. For me, that is an inconceivable milestone. Me, 70? How could that be? Seventy sounds so…well…”old.”

Turning 70 seems to be a natural time to pause and look at the big picture…to reflect and look back at important events. Rewinding through the years of my life…hmm…what do I see?

In 1952 I was just 4 years old, running, skipping through summertime sprinklers, then suddenly almost dying from “infantile paralysis”…

…then at the age of 12, listening and bopping in my braces and crutches to “Rockin’ Robin” on the record player…

…at the age of 17 in 1965, being voted class optimist at our fancy senior dinner and soon off to college…

…4 years later, having just turned 21, teaching English to my first class of very tall, very bright high school seniors…

…then just 31, becoming a college dormitory “housemother” trying to convince students not to get drunk and pull telephones out of walls or set off false fire alarms at 3:00 AM…

…then at 33, breaking down with the late effects of polio, soon to be working with with my newly found post-polio physician, starting my next university career teaching and  researching all we could about what in the world was happening to polio survivors 30 years after they first got it.

All those years and experiences are pretty long past now. But they are still part of me and my personal gestalt every day. They are not lost. I do not grieve for them since they remain in my mind and heart as wonderful experiences that shaped my life and the lives of those I touched.

My difficult losses have been the heartbreak of losing friends, lovers and family members to break-ups or death.  Can’t whale watch on the beach with the same boyfriend anymore. Can’t chat with Mom anymore over a long cup of coffee sitting side by side on the old screened-in front porch.

My toughest losses have also come as physical losses of strength and function.  Can’t hear as well. Gotta get a pricey hearing aid soon. Can’t walk anymore. Gotta use a scooter full time. Can’t sleep at night free from the entrapment of a respirator face mask. Uuf!

It’s true, the older we get, as nature takes its toll, the greater life losses we must gradually come to deal with. We must learn the fine art of grieving over and over.  It is a sad requirement if we really want to thrive during our late life years.

But how do we do that? How do we thrive in the midst of heartbreaking loss? How do we grieve well and then let go enough to forge ahead with grace and hope? It is not easy. But it is possible.

The only way I have been able to move forward after a life loss has been first, to cry my guts out and acknowledge my sorrow. Over and over.  Then, when I am ready, and sick of being so sad, I work to reinvent a new reality and perception of my life.  I look hard for some fresh gain in the aftermath of that debilitating loss.  It can be a large gain or a small gain. Doesn’t matter.  Just some gain. I work to reinvent my reality because I absolutely refuse to get stuck in the devastation which loss has the power to create, if we let it. Stomp! Stomp! That is not where I want to live every day.

About Loss From The Wise Elders

When I did a national study of fifteen “post-polio wise elders” in 2007, these role models for successful late life adaptation with a disability taught me about reconciling losses.   One hundred percent of the group expressed that adapting to losses had been a major life challenge, beginning with the termination of normal physical functioning at polio onset.   Loss of both function and the appearance of being an able-bodied (“normal”) person in society set off personal struggles from childhood until retirement.

Accepting early polio-related losses was difficult, and for some was still ongoing. One woman shared that she is just now dealing with her original polio losses: “I—it brings me back to seeing all those children in the ward that wouldn’t walk again. And I’ve never dealt with those images. [Sobs] Terrible!”  By contrast, another man said that he sees his disability now as simply “a speed bump (or pothole) on life’s highway.”

Everyone in the group was also dealing with mid to later life losses that were both physical and social. The entire group (all were over 65 years of age) reported having the late effects of polio–new weakness, pain, and disabling fatigue in recent years. Most of the group had developed at least one new physical problem such as high blood pressure, edema, high cholesterol, and/or circulatory problems.

One woman shared how losing her accustomed level of mobility was difficult: “I had to give up. I couldn’t defy nature anymore. It was harder than (after) the first battle with polio.” A combination of shame, grief, and relief was expressed at having to use new assistive and mobility devices.

The other losses that these polio survivors described as difficult to reconcile were social losses. It was the painful descriptions of social losses during the interviews that generated the most tears. These included the death of a spouse and/or friends, moving to new locations and leaving old friends and family members behind, and retiring from jobs.

In spite of major life losses, the wise elders, who are people with complicated physical disabilities from polio, have shown us that by using the powers of positive reappraisal, it is possible to reinvent ourselves. Turn the negative around and make it a positive. We can reinterpret life after loss. Shift our focus from what we have lost to what we have left.

About Gain From the Wise Elders

Believe it or not, many of the wise elders agreed that, in spite of new functional losses, life is somehow better now, than when they were younger and physically stronger. Perceptions have changed. There seems to be a new freedom that both an evolved, more positive perception of disability and not being in the workforce bring. When asked for a word or phrase that describes life for them now, their responses included:

 

  • Comfortable
  • Flourishing
  • Grateful
  • Excellent
  • Open
  • Wonderful, full, happy
  • Satisfying, good
  • Hopeful–filled with a sense of anticipation
  • Good, fulfilling
  • Better than expected–like a dream come true

They began to transform their losses into opportunities for gain. A woman from the east coast shared that getting older doesn’t always mean getting worse. A new flexible schedule in retirement offers her the freedom to do what she wants, like browse for a long time in bookstores, Even though financially life is a little more restrained. Several people shared that their perceptions of others who have a disability have changed in late life, due to their own greater self-acceptance.  They are more compassionate and caring toward others than in their more competitive earlier years, when they had to “push, push, push–use it or lose it.”  One man even revealed that he enjoyed flirting with women in grocery stores now. He said “being older with a disability can give one license to ask for help and hugs…I’m an old guy and everybody thinks I’m not dangerous!”

These well-grounded role models teach us that on the heels of life’s deeply felt losses, potential gains swirl all around us. It’s not easy to see them at first, but as we invite them into view, and claim them one by one, it is possible to find the excitement in life again. In the process, we gotta ask for help and hugs.

Then, when we suddenly catch ourselves spontaneously flirting with a fellow shopper amidst the carrots and rutabaga during our next trip to the supermarket, we’ll know we’re back up and running again! It’s what I call “a wise elder effect.”

 

Yup! Next month I turn seventy…time for a little levity…carrots and rutabaga, here I come!


I’d like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” to the wise elders for their comforting words and for living humbly as such inspiring examples. Some of these polio survivors have passed away. Most are still going strong.

Zest at its Best: Wheeling Through Portugal and Spain

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The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The following story is about a spiritual pilgrimage through Portugal and Spain.

Susan Peters, the main author of the account, has a spinal cord injury and is a full time wheelchair user. Her story of spiritual renewal, physical daring and warmhearted camaraderie makes me want to return to Europe to travel “The Way” like she did. It must have been such a beautiful experience. See if you agree…

Sunny

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With Duct-Tape and Daring: Elated Friends Complete Rugged Wheelchair Adventure

By: Susan Peters with Sunny Roller

The Camino de Santigo or “Way of St. James” is a mostly mountainous route that adventure travelers take imagesvvvto reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  Tradition has it that the remains of Jesus’ apostle, James, are buried at this cathedral in northwestern Spain. Hundreds of thousands of Christian pilgrims and many others set out each year from a variety of popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to the sacred site. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel, as their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey. Learning this, I decided to try it last Fall–using my wheelchair.

I’ve been a manual wheelchair user due to paraplegia from a spinal cord injury for 40 of my 68 years and I am still looking for adventure and mountains to climb.  So, when a friend of mine suggested that I test my audacity and dare to set off on a wheeling expedition for hundreds of miles along the Camino de Santiago, in Europe, my eyes lit up. In need of personal renewal and sparked by the possibilities of this expedition, I made a commitment to travel “The Way.” Not just for its physical challenges, but also to rejuvenate my zest for life.

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There are many routes to the cathedral. Pilgrims on the Way of St. James walk for weeks or months to visit the city of Santiago de Compostela. Some Europeans begin their pilgrimage on foot from the very doorstep of their homes.

Soon I had recruited my hardy crew of four people–two hired guides from Portuguese Green Walks and two great friends. After avidly planning the trip’s daily itinerary, off we flew to Portugal on September 25th.There are many different routes to choose for this strenuous pilgrimage to St. James’ resting place, but to receive the certificate for traveling The Way, one must clock at least 120 kilometers and stay on a route marked with yellow arrows.  I selected the Portuguese way, beginning in the city of Valenca then along ancient paths north into Spain. Once I determined the route, the hard part was convincing people it could be done by wheelchair. Wrapped up in this initial challenge was actually finding a set of strong-willed, committed, physically-able helpers who not only believed it could be done, but also wanted to go. They were out there. I just had to look.

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Ready to roll from the beginning, Susan and friend Nuno, face a rocky road ahead.

Excited and ready to roll at the starting point, I immediately confronted several dozen stone steps leading down-down-down to a narrow ancient path and then a dirt trail. That was when reality hit me–this excursion would not be the slightest bit easy.  Every hotel was slightly different; so I was glad I had my friends with me to help with shower and toilet transfers, which was the hardest part of the trip, really. By day seven, the rough terrain had snapped off all of the metal screws on my front foot plate, and I had to continue the journey with a wheelchair that was partially duct-taped together.  As we pushed ahead, we came across so many gorgeous sites that also became challenging delights. We walked and rolled through bustling ancient towns and pastoral cow pastures.  We forded streams and bumped over bridges only a few inches wider than the wheelchair.

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The countryside.

Pushing and pulling, we climbed steep hills and zig-zagged our way down rugged, bumpy Roman roads that had been laid in ancient times using boulders or giant stones. Not easy or comfortable to roll over.

In spite of the obstacles we bashed up against from start to finish, this adventure through Portugal and Spain exceeded every one of my dreams.  All along the way, human warmth and camaraderie carried us.  I met pilgrims from the U.S., Brazil, Korea, New Zealand, Serbia, and from other parts of Europe.

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The cuisine.

With spontaneous chances to intermingle every day, fellow sojourners and I took delight in sharing warm companionship and stories of our trek. The people who live along the Camino wanted to commune and gave me a joyful sense of belonging. They energized us with constant encouragement, welcoming smiles, and nourishment of all kinds. And they shared so much–from replenishing my water supply, to enfolding us in big bear hugs, to sharing important secrets about the trails ahead.

With each new dawn I felt a fresh sense of renewal and restoration.  As we continued to walk and roll along the rocky hillsides and over singing woodland rivers, my companions and I came to hear The Way’s new harmonies that seemed to be caroling just for us. We sang and danced. We hugged trees.  We savored delicious hot meals–oysters, clams, rice, sausage, kale soup and Portuguese wine graciously served up at our wayside inns.  We happily stopped at so many shrines and churches along the way, praying for the power of love to heal our world’s wounded.

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Susan (center front) and comrades finally arrive at the cathedral.

After 120 kilometers, we arrived in Santiago at noon on day ten of our journey, just in time for Mass at the cathedral.   Quickly escorted to a front row seat, I was elated to experience the famous incense burner dramatically swinging right above my head.   Suspended and swaying back and forth from a very long rope through the resplendent cathedral over hundreds of pious onlookers, its wafting smoke and scent seemed to cleanse and coat us with a mystical sense of comfort and reassurance.

It was also my 68th birthday that day. So after the mass, we found a cozy outdoor café. With wine glasses clinking, we heartily celebrated our successful journey AND my birthday. A moment I’ll always remember. We did it! I did it! It was a wonderful feeling as we jubilantly turned ourselves into a lively Spanish fiesta.

I enthusiastically encourage others who use a wheelchair to consider taking the Camino de Santiago.  I was so thankful that my therapist had suggested I take a FreeWheel for my chair. (See photo below.)  It’s an attachment that enables your wheelchair casters to be lifted off the ground, turning your chair into a three-wheeler, so you simply roll over any obstacle: curbs, dirt trails, grass, gravel, snow, and sand. I couldn’t have gotten along without it. (To learn more go to https://www.gofreewheel.com/)

Roman_Road2 (1)

The FreeWheel attachment on the wheelchair’s front enabled easier passage.

When you go, strong friends, a FreeWheel, patience and perseverance are a must.  Also remember to pack rain gear, a wheelchair repair kit, and layered clothing. If I can do it at my age, with arthritis and brittle bones, you can too.

For more information contact me at speters@msu.edu.

 

Bom Camino!

 

Susan Peters, Ph.D.  is an Associate Professor Emerita at Michigan State University, College of Education.  As a Fulbright Scholar and educational consultant for Ministries of Education, the World Bank, and UNESCO, her work focuses on inclusive education policy and practice for people with disabilities in cross-cultural and international perspectives.

 

In 2011 Martin Sheen starred in a movie titled THE WAY about one man’s journey to the cathedral. THE WAY is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends and the challenges we face while navigating this ever-changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an irascible American doctor who comes to France to deal with the tragic loss of his son (played by Emilio Estevez). Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage “The Way of St. James” to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn’t plan on is the profound impact this trip will have on him. Through unexpected and oftentimes amusing experiences along THE WAY, Tom discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.”   It is well worth watching.

Check it out here: 

 

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The above story by Susan Peters, Ph.D. was first published in the Spring/Summer 2016 newsletter, SCI Access. Distributed annually by the University of Michigan (U-M) Spinal Cord Injury Model System within the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, SCI Access is sent to 1200 readers in Michigan and across the country. For more information about this program that focuses on people who are living with a spinal cord injury, see their U-M website:  http://pmr.med.umich.edu/SCIMS

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Thanks for Reading!

 

Want to add an adventure like this to your own To-Do List?

What do you think?  Feel free to comment…

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Celebrating Independence Day Makes Me Think…

…About Moving From Independence to Healthy Interdependence

 

DSC03697 flagJuly Fourth. It’s Independence Day weekend in America; a time to celebrate that we live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  And this weekend, the national celebration also makes me think about my own sense of independence.

As a polio survivor for 63 years who has needed crutches, leg braces, and now a wheelchair and a scooter to get around, I was taught searing lessons about independence since the age of four. As children of the epidemics, we were  immersed, even indoctrinated, with the goals of becoming fiercely independent as we went through our initial rehabilitation from acute polio.  “Do it yourself! You fell down? Well, figure out how to get up on your own! It’s a cold, cruel world out there! You will always have to prove yourself to others,” were words I often heard from my parents and therapists. And they worked for me for a long time.

For fourteen-plus years, my 1950’s rehabilitation professionals convinced my family and me that I, as a young person who had a disability, was not sick, or defective. Neither was I destined to become a deviant object of charity. In fact, my mother always told me that I could do anything anybody else could do–just a bit differently. Our Wise Elders, the polio survivors in my national report, said they were told the same thing. One woman said she had a need to think independently from the time she was a young woman. She described how she traveled alone around the country and made other decisions that seemed imprudent to her non-disabled social group. Our stories of super achievement are numerous. But as we learned self-determination and self-respect, we were also taught not to be a burden on others.

WOW

Now that’s a loaded statement. One that needs unraveling–fast!  A burden? What’s that? What does this concept called independence really mean to us today? Is it the flip side of dependence? If independent means not being a burden on people, does that mean we should have less self-respect as we demurely become a dependent thorn in the side of others when we do reach out for help? Excess baggage? An affliction to them? Should we feel guilty? Defective? Unworthy? OMG: independence versus dependence. Let the unraveling begin with a new thought…

It’s the Fourth of July in America. Our greatest document, other than the Constitution, is the Declaration of Independence. For people who are growing older with the late effects of polio or simply growing older with the late effects of life, I say we need to draw up a more evolved document: The Declaration of Interdependence!  

Not independence. Not dependence. But interdependence: “the quality of being mutually reliant on each other.” 

It makes total sense, if we can shake our old ways of thinking. Under the guidance of this new declaration, we can begin to move from needing to fly solo so as not to bother others and prove ourselves worthy, into a new and lovely blessed state of healthy exchange. “I ask you for new kinds of help and I give you the help you need that I am capable of giving.”  It becomes a gracious and reciprocal experience that none of us will want to miss out on.

Trying to be that old kind of independent can be not only exhausting, but darn lonely. Working with a friend to plan a class reunion or a church event not only takes the load off me, but is a lot more fun. Who wants to do stuff alone all the time? That’s too independent! Trying to be strong and self-reliant can also be dangerous. Now while painting the fence or planting a garden, I could easily fall down, and then pop a bicep trying to push myself up from the ground. I say find a twenty-year old to do it. Then give him some of your best home baked cookies, some money and your full attention as he shares his life plans and interests. We have both gained from the experience. My friends and I trade favors. We drive each other to the airport and to our colonoscopies. I always have to drive my adapted car wherever we go, but my friends often chip in for gas. I listen intently to what my friends need to share with somebody and my buddies pay for dinner or buy me a device I can’t afford right now. It’s becoming easier for me to ask strangers for help when I need it too. We have always needed others and they have needed us. It just starts to look different as we age. As the poet says, “no man is an island.”

lemieux vv

Who needs to do stuff alone all the time? (Photo: Bay Cliff wildflower taken by Paula Lemieux)

If we need more, we need to ask for more. No guilt. We still have much to contribute now; maybe even more, but in different arenas. We don’t need to prove ourselves in the mainstream workplace and keep up with our non-disabled competitors. We can make new disability-related adaptations and be content with who we are really becoming, and what we need to do to live well during our retirement years.

Growing older with greater disability can offer us a fresh sense of not only comfort, but also liberation. I love having a flexible schedule that I can coordinate with my energy levels. It’s great to have time to Skype or play Skip-Bo with kids, do my scrapbooking and card making, walk and roll with my friends along the river’s edge, and contribute to my special social causes. Another unexpected thought–because of feedback I’ve received, I think I have somehow become more beautiful in certain ways as I’ve aged. And that’s in spite of new fat, wrinkles and deformity. Maybe it has to do with personal essence. Not sure, but I think that phenomenon is possible for each of us. We can mysteriously become more attractive. In many important ways, life can be better in old age than it ever was in youth. Especially when we each figure out how to adopt our own personal Declaration of Interdependence.

So stay tuned! Next time we’ll focus on the sacred exchange of giving and receiving.

Until then, I’m interdependently yours,

Sunny

P.S. Weight loss update: I have shed nine pounds since May 13th. Much more to go. Onward!

—Many thanks to Sue Rasmussen for her editorial assistance with this post!—


What are your thoughts on all this? 

Would love to read your comments…


 

“Who Are These Polio Survivors?”

The latest installment of…

Way Back When: The Lost Anthology — Chapter Four

The following piece was sent to us by the late Ernie Anderegg from Tuscon, Arizona. He wanted it to be published in the post-polio anthology back in the late 1980s.  This poem is a tough one to read because it so concretely describes the anguish and adversity that polio brought to so many newly-paralyzed children and their heartbroken families. The experience was absolutely devastating on so many levels and can bring back mournful images and memories that are still buried deep within.

But wait! Out of the desolation, Ernie expresses his pride in being a polio survivor and reminds us that the powerful spirit of love and our enthusiasm for living life prevails …


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Who are these polio Survivors?

 

Infants, only days or weeks into this precious life;

Lifeless and aching in paralytic strife.

Toddlers, removed from their bonding with kin;

to a world of strangers and loneliness therein.

School-age tots, healthy, vital and well;

with an untimely sentencing to a strange form of Hell.

Young adults, men and women alike;

not quite able to evade this phantom’s strike.

With febrile delusion and limbs that would fail;

Like rag dolls–languid, flaccid and frail.

Parents of whom were often alerted,

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“Go home to your family, death cannot be averted.”

But we heard not the dirge, we made no departure;

and we all cheated death to pursue life’s adventure. ask

Now challenged by life to rebuild and maintain;

the Polio Survivor will gain and regain.

With lost weeks and years in sterile abandonment,

maturing, enduring this foreign environment.

Spanning the spectrum from newborn past twenty;

Their good lives disrupted–tears shed aplenty.

With racking pain in uphill progression,

who’d ever believe we would relive regression?

But through this all we bore the test;

and still proclaim we are the best.

And drawing from our days on trial,

When we all pushed the extra mile.

The common thread running through our lives

was…

The Polio Survivor endures and survives!

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About the Author

images (3)11Polio survivor, Ernest J. Anderegg, Jr., age 68, “ended his earthly journey at home on March 29, 2015. Born on December 1, 1946 in Jersey City, NJ to parents Ernest and Lillian Anderegg and survived by first wife, Beverly Anderegg; two children, Darrin and Renee; three grandchildren and two brothers, Warren and Gregory Anderegg. As a polio survivor he became a strong advocate for the disabled community and instrumental in establishing the polio EPIC group. His presence will be missed and treasured by family and many beloved friends. He was admired for his wit, appreciation of the value and comfort of friendship, and particularly for his strength and equanimity in the face of chronic pain. He was a profound poet and writer who earned the title of “Distinguished Poet” on Poetry.com.

Of his life he wrote, ” (I am a) polio survivor of the 40’s epidemic (spino-bulbar) who has spent a lifetime ‘trying to pass for normal’ (a term used by survivors).  In my old age there has been a number of concessions, physical and psychological, that directed me to writing to express and vent. Watching the natural course of things in an analytical way,  I am able to draw from life experience to leave my thoughts, strengths, personal spirituality for family & friends to cipher after the fact.”

Ernie was a founding member of the flourishing post-polio support group, Polio Epic, in Tuscon, Arizona. Current group president, Micki Minner, enthusiastically shared with me that Polio Epic is a dynamic, ever-enlarging support group with strong programs and powerful outreach. It attracts folks from all over the state to their regular meetings.  To learn more, check out their website here… PolioEpicLogo-801-x-83


The Search for Anthology Authors Continues…

Almost 30 years ago (1987), friends, Barbara Pike, Charlene Bozarth, and I sent out a nationwide request to polio survivors who might want to have their writings published in an anthology. Manuscripts came in, but life took over, and we were never able to create and publish the collection, as we had hoped. When I lost track of Barbara in Ohio, and Charlene, who left Michigan for New Mexico,  I protectively stored the writings for resurrection at a later date.

Well, this year is that later date! I recently rediscovered them in my files, dusted them off, and now plan to take the liberty of publishing them by way of this blog.  Some are essays. Some are poems. They are heartfelt, intimate and describe living with polio in earlier times. We can still resonate with their feelings and messages.

Here is a list of the missing anthology authors whom I would like to contact for permission to publish their work, now, so many years later. Since the publishing of chapter one, we have found three more authors, but have many yet to find.

If you are one, or know of one, please contact me at sunnyrollerblog@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Sunny

Floy Schoenfelder

Lee Whipple

William Wild

Agnes Fennewald

Charlotte Snitzer

Ann Bradley

Toni Keffeler

Sofia Baltodano

Bruce Berman

Roberta Dillion Williams

Becky Lee Vance

Jean Hamm

Norene Senkbeil

Ann Goodhall

Ginger Sage

Shirley Hile Powell

Elizabeth Reeves

Doris Vanden Boogard

Donna L. Mattinson

Marie Galda

Alan M. Oberdick

Emma Blosser Hartzler

R. N. Hackney

Robert C. Huse

 

 Where can you be?

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P.S. Quick report on my weight loss program: since May 13th I have lost 4.5 pounds. Onward and upward!


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Can You Haiku?

 

Bye-Bye Winter!

Bubbles fly on breeze DSCN2682cc

Spring’s chilly warmth heats my soul 

Confinement’s blown off!


That was a Haiku poem. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems are very simple. They consist of 3 lines.  The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables.  The lines rarely rhyme.

Writing a post-polio Haiku poem might be fun to try as an activity in your support group.

Here’s the formula:

  • First line (5 syllables): Focus close in. Describe an image from nature (or your surroundings) in concrete terms. It’s fun to describe a photo you may have, but not imperative.
  • Second line (7 syllables): refer or allude to a season of the year (spring, fall, etc.)
  • Third line (5 syllables):  Focus big. Shift, even juxtapose the perspective on your chosen image/subject in line 1 to a larger post-polio idea, concept or image. Think of words and things related to living with polio.

 

Here’s another semi-spontaneous example:

 

On Old Friends Making Life Work

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Witness our friendship’s summer

Wheels keep us moving.


What do you think? Can you Haiku? Could you write a post-polio Haiku?  Might be fun to try! Just follow the formula.

Hi Fran Henke, want to give it a go? Anyone else feeling inspired?

Oh, let’s just have fun!

Woohoo!

It’s springtime in the Northern Hemisphere!


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Way Back When: The Lost Anthology–Chapter Three

Way back when, Mary Ellen Nyberg Hemby wrote about her experience as a mom with polio. Her words below reflect a tenderhearted relationship with children and their purity of spirit.  May we fondly pause a moment to once again be caught up in the “springtime of life”… 

 

The Best Wheels

There were once two little girls

who loved to play with wheels.

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“Playing House” by Jim Daly

They pushed their dolls in strollers

before and after meals.

Roller skates, a bike, and a trike

all painted red and white

Kept them moving all around

from morning until night.

They pulled their new wooden wagon

all over in the sun,

and shopping carts in the stores

made shopping much more fun!

But Mama’s yellow wheelchair

had the best wheels of all,

To push and ride with Mama

all over the mall!

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People

Most people stand up straight and tall,

can walk and run with no help at all.

But some use canes or crutches, too,

to walk around like others do.

Some need braces or special shoes

for walking or running or whatever they choose.

And some people can just sit in a chair

And wheel around from here to there.

But remember that we’re all people, too,

We all like to play and go to the zoo.

We all love to laugh and sing and talk

whether we have to wheel or walk.

Brian Penguins 2vv

“Peckish Penquins” by John Dyer

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Later, when up against the late effects of polio, her positive, youthful spirit emerged as she reflected on what might come next …

Polio Survivors–Movement

Movement, from the day we were born, was an exciting, enjoyable experience. Crawling, running, jumping, and riding bikes made the process of getting there as exciting as being there.

As children, we explored and enjoyed every possibility–even with braces or crutches–we tried it all. We succeeded at things people said we could never do.

When we grew older, the movements became normal, for us, and many steps were made unconsciously–simply as a means to an end. The process wasn’t as important as the result. Unless the brace or crutch was changed or broken, we forgot our handicap.

Now, after so many years of succeeding, we have begun to contemplate every movement again. Each step is being carefully considered due to weakness, pain and exhaustion. We have needed to add more supports, and have compromised our independence with mechanical chairs.

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Unknown Artist

We, like children again, will confront the new challenge and learn to savor every movement–to succeed once more!

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About the Author

10982084_10204913127121900_4667068791303788880_naaMary Ellen Nyberg Hemby lives in Willis, Texas. She contracted polio in 1954 at age two in Nebraska and walked with one long leg brace during her younger years. After college graduation, she moved to Texas to escape winter weather. Mary Ellen worked as a Montessori teacher for five  years.  Post-Polio Syndrome was diagnosed in 1986 when she was married with two young daughters.

She recalls her past writings above, giving them a life context…“they were my way of adjusting to Social Security Disability Income with two small children. I visited their classrooms and talked about disability. One of my daughters, her husband, and their six-month old daughter now live with me. They help me with shopping and cooking and I help them love Isabel…I stay connected (to others by way of) the internet mostly. I try to find something to be positive about at each stage (of life). …God has a plan for all of us.”

Readers are welcome to contact Mary Ellen at menybergh@aol.com

Thank you, Mary Ellen.

May your abiding love for children continue to be a huge blessing for you. Kids desperately need all the love and attention we adults have ready to give them. And we also know that children are so very good for all of us way-too-sensible adults!

 


Still Searching…

Almost 30 years ago (1987), friends, Barbara Pike, Charlene Bozarth, and I sent out a nationwide request to polio survivors who might want to have their writings published in an anthology. Manuscripts came in, but life took over, and we were never able to create and publish the collection, as we had hoped. When I lost track of Barbara in Ohio, and Charlene, who left Michigan for New Mexico,  I protectively stored the writings for resurrection at a later date.

Well, this year is that later date! I recently rediscovered them in my files, dusted them off, and now plan to take the liberty of publishing them by way of this blog.  Some are essays. Some are poems. They are heartfelt, intimate and describe living with polio in earlier times. We can still resonate with their feelings and messages.

Here is a list of the missing anthology authors whom I would like to contact for permission to publish their work, now, so many years later. Since the publishing of chapter one, we have found two more authors, but have many yet to find.

If you are one, or know of one, please contact me at sunnyrollerblog@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Sunny

 Floy Schoenfelder

Lee Whipple

William Wild

Agnes Fennewald

Charlotte Snitzer

Ann Bradley

Toni Keffeler

Sofia Baltodano

Bruce Berman

Roberta Dillion Williams

Becky Lee Vance

Jean Hamm

Norene Senkbeil

Ann Goodhall

Ginger Sage

Shirley Hile Powell

Elizabeth Reeves

Doris Vanden Boogard

Donna L. Mattinson

Marie Galda

Alan M. Oberdick

Emma Blosser Hartzler

R. N. Hackney

Robert C. Huse

 

Are you somewhere out there?

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“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”–Winston Churchill

BOOK REVIEW

Just read an autobiography by polio survivor and actor, John Mahon.  It’s titled, A Life of Make Believe: From Paralysis to Hollywood. 

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John Mahon

This is not a fluffy piece of writing. It is direct, curt and even discourteous at times. In it Mahon describes, incident by incident, his rowdy, turbulent, often agitated journey to become an actor–in spite of being marked by an arm that was obviously paralyzed by polio. For aspiring movie stars, achieving fame, fortune and a sense of professional security is far from easy now, and it was even tougher in recent decades. The 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s especially reeked with harsh disability discrimination. And in dealing with his physical imperfection in a body-beautiful business, John became a fighter–a good looking bad boy–who often barreled and bashed his way through life–chasing his heartfelt dream–to be an actor with a successful and fulfilling career on stage.

In spite of numerous disorderly encounters while working toward his vision of becoming a successful entertainer, John Mahon never, never gave up.  He got shot down, rejected, and swindled, but he got right back up and kept on fighting.

His endurance reminded me in some ways of Winston Churchill, who fought World War II, quote-continuous-effort-not-strength-or-intelligence-is-the-key-to-unlocking-our-potential-winston-churchill-37149 wcpersevered, and eventually won the peace. Churchill had so much to teach the world about the value of continuous effort and the courage to keep going.

He may not know it yet, but I believe John’s story runs parallel to each of our own life-with-polio stories. Our individual goals may have been different, but we each had to work so persistently and diligently to prove ourselves–to excel with a disability in a non-disabled culture. To survive, many, probably all, of us worked every day at minimizing a socially-obvious disability with braces or crutches; or at passing for normal, hiding an impairment, like a weak hand, that, if discovered, would reveal our “malformations.”  I did it too. Whew. Makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

That was not easy.

At all.

Because as a reader, I vicariously trudged through John’s hellish-battles and hardships (fist-fights, doors bashed in, getting “canned”) with him in the first chapters, I was genuinely relieved to finally immerse in his later life moments of  peace and soul-nurturing insights. I believe that age, experience, real love, and conscious efforts at deep introspection have awarded John with a hard-won personal treasure–his momentary and penetrating glimmers of God.

Thanks for sharing the following moments, John…

After a breakdown, John’s good friend, Jack, takes him in. John writes with gratitude about his peaceful Pacific coast moments…

Jack had rented an apartment on the second floor of a home located in the north end of Malibu, on a palisade overlooking the Pacific, with a panoramic view of the ocean and coastline. We all know the ocean has boundaries, yet, from that bluff, it appeared to travel into forever…that sight in Malibu was magic. In the evening I would listen to the sound of waves coming to rest. Sometimes they would roll in gently; other times they crashed onto the sand below. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for those many evenings viewing the most gorgeous sunsets and starlit skies imaginable.

A few years later, he describes how he was “touched by an angel”…

I once flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the series Touched By An Angel was being shot. When I walked into the makeup trailer, Della Reese was sitting having her makeup done. I remember her saying to me, “God bless you today,” as she rested her hand on my shoulder. I swear a feeling of peace and harmony overtook me…Meeting  and working with such an unquestionably incomparable spiritual individual was a gift.

Laying out syntax that is not only brisk, but downright brusque, the author also describes a redeeming moment when he finally begins to find meaning in his disability…

Any number of times I had wondered why I was the one decked by polio. In 1979, walking on that sound stage, I may have discovered the reason. Infantile paralysis gave me an opportunity to help others; it only took twenty-nine years for me to discover it. My involvement with the Media Access Office[teaching the trade to young actors with a disability] made it clearer than ever that I had been living in two worlds: the gimp world, and the “normal world.”

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John Mahon today

John’s book, A Life of Make Believe: From Paralysis to Hollywood, is filled with unique stories and snippets about the many famous movie stars he encountered as an actor–some he liked and respected; some he didn’t. From his seasoned actor’s perspective, he discusses his not-too-positive impression of reality TV today. From a polio survivor’s perspective he comments on the American with Disabilities Act. And from a father’s point of view he describes the ongoing devotion he holds for his children.

Mahon’s autobiography is also in a constant state of revision, John tells me. But I guess that’s true for all of us–as our perceptions and memories emerge, our life stories continue to morph and unfold.

If you are a movie buff and want to learn a little more about an array of great stage and screen stars like Al Pacino, James Garner and Broderick Crawford …if you want to get into a terse guy-story that is easy to read and definitely straightforward, then get yourself a copy of John Mahon’s new book.

Click on this link to have it sent right to your door:

To connect with John Mahon directly, write to him at:  alifeofmakebelieve@gmail.com or find him on Facebook.

At the end of his narrative, John candidly reveals, “I have not considered myself successful in any typical, conventional, usual or ordinary way…

My success was in continuing the journey.”

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P.S. I believe it’s much the same for most of us. When we’ve gone through hell, as Churchill asserted, we have indeed, kept going.

Through the tough times with a post-polio disability, that magical life spirit deep inside our souls popped up and nudged us forward. 

Lately, as we’ve grown older, we’ve needed to astutely adapt and update our strategies and tactics a bit.  And as we do, we demonstrate to those around us our visibly unique, but certainly viable ways.

May we all continue to proceed, flourish and endure as we …  94d5ebc810b2dc69f3ebaf919b973ba7

Winston Churchill, also known as “The British Bulldog”

 

 


 Have you ever noticed how much super-persistence you continue to have?  

Is it still working for you?


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Prayer, Prioritizing, Patience, Persisting and P…

BOOK REVIEW

All the Steps I Have Taken Then and Now

by Linda L. Christianson

 

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“Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.” –Anonymous

 

Linda Christianson loves to quilt. Writing her memoir, much like creating a quilt, must have given her an important chance to examine and then thoughtfully interlace the pieces of her life together.

As she put pen to paper, Linda had to examine and reflect upon each piece of her life– growing up as a child who was living with polio, starting a career as a young woman, getting married, having children and now enjoying grandchildren. Weaving with words, she put her life in order–just as the quilter does when methodically sewing together colorful fabric shapes into what eventually becomes a fully congruent work of art.

Taking a look at one’s life with polio can be a grueling experience that takes gut-wrenching courage. One must unearth those deep childhood sorrows, the agonizing emotional horrors, physical losses, and frightening medical lacerations. Then the writer must somehow put them into perspective–explaining the pain and healing process from an adult point of view. That’s a lot of work.

But the reward for that arduous research and reflection is being able to finally and fully see the fiber of our life as a whole–to know our personal story as its own unique, intricate, even awe-inspiring narrative. Once the big picture crystallizes, the question soon becomes “how will we choose to frame our autobiographical portrait?” What spin do we want to put on our life as a whole?

Christianson has clearly chosen her spin. As she reviewed her life’s difficulties, she also took a fresh look at all of the wonderful people, family and friends, who had influenced and strengthened her through so many decades.  Having developed a strong spiritual life, she reassessed with gratitude the fortunate circumstances and beautiful places she has known.

As she revisited her hospitals, and recounted her numerous summertime surgeries, her split sized orthopedic shoes, crutches, and unwanted leg braces, she also described sunshiny childhood memories on the family farm…

“Despite the crutches, I was still able to get to the top of the corn crib, which was where we had a playhouse. We would build all our furniture and cupboards out of wooden peach crates left from my mother’s  canning. Climbing up wasn’t very easy, but my arms were strong, and the slivers I got in my knees as I pulled myself up were easy to get out. What fun we had!”

Then moving forward, as we all do somehow, she described pulling herself through adolescence and up into adulthood.   She worked hard, went to school, established a career as a helping professional, married, taught her kids to always do well at whatever they tried, and now in her sixties, is quoted as saying, “busy people always have time to help out.” Today Linda visits classrooms of elementary school children and is an invited speaker at community meetings. She wants to provide support, encouragement and a little enlightenment about life’s possibilities. She shares the “Four P’s” which are her personal guidelines for weaving a rich and colorful life:

Prayer, Prioritizing, Patience, and Persisting

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1. “Each day must start with time for PRAYER using my Thomas Kinkade devotional book and having my first cup of coffee.” Her daily readings are from Beside Still Waters, published by Thomas Nelson in 1994. “It has the most beautiful pictures on every page.”  She also reads Seasons of Light  and Beyond the Garden Gate. “Any one of these books I can pick up and read and feel so relaxed from the words and from the paintings I find there.”

Click here to find Thomas Kinkade’s devotionals on Amazon

2. PRIORITIZING  is very important for me as I always want to accomplish more than I should. Planning to do the things that must be done is necessary and then I can look ahead if my mind and body agree on doing more.

3. Next is PATIENCE as I [carefully place and strap] my long left leg brace [on my leg] so that I will be able to walk. 

4. PERSISTING is just sticking with the project until it is completed.

Poliomyelitis, at a very young age, is the reason for all these “P’s.” I stay focused on them all day through, and with God’s guidance my days are wonderfully full. It is important to me that I live my life as a canvas, putting all the color I can into it.

Actually, I think Linda might want to incorporate a “Fifth P” into her schema that can be seen as a metaphor for what she is doing these days as a woman who had polio and has made life work.

That obvious “P” to me would be her productive, passionate and pleasurable post-polio pastime: Patchwork Quilting!  She even says, “My favorite pastime is quilting– putting those pieces together to blend and make a most beautiful piece of art. It is like…. all the happiness and goodness…in my life.

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“I weave in faith, and God finds the threads.” –Linda L. Christianson

 

Linda welcomes your messages to exchange ideas about quilting or to discuss her book about growing up with polio in rural Minnesota. To connect, send a message through her Facebook page.  Or use this email address: llcallthesteps@gofast.am

If you would like to have a copy of Linda’s 93-page chronicle for your personal library, here’s how–click on the picture below…


P.S.  Have you written a book?  If you would like to have it showcased on this blog, please contact me at sunnyrollerblog@gmail.com.


Have you ever thought about the major turning points in your life with polio?

What kept you going?

Ever considered writing a personal memoir describing your life experiences–for your children and grandchildren to read and treasure as they focus on living their lives successfully?  Bet you’d have some great ideas for them.


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Working on Wisdom

When I was a little girl, my German-American father used to sternly instruct, “Respect your elders!” It was usually when he wanted us kids to shape up and do what he said.

Now 60 years later, I have learned that his classic instruction remains in my heart and has burgeoned into a life lesson–bestowing much greater meaning. What I never knew at the age of seven was that as a mature woman, I would long to respect my elders…to seek them out and learn from them.

There was a wonderful advertisement on the Super Bowl last weekend. Did you see it? It was a Dodge commercial featuring a fervent group of expressive centenarians.  At the age of 100, each one had words of wisdom for us youngsters about how to live life successfully.

Have a look…

I love that by way of this commercial, millions of children, teenagers and adults were suddenly impelled for one brief moment to think about the wisdom of our elders. And then the next night, that one commercial, out of all the rest, was spotlighted on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

It’s even more interesting to note that in our 2007 study (See Wise Elder Report above) of 15 much younger “wise elders” in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, (individuals deemed as role models for aging well by their post-polio support group members) much of the same truth came out.

The younger post-polio wise elders agreed with the Super Bowl centenarians!

Here are three of their parallel ideas:

The Dodge centenarians said:  “Live for now because life is good. You make it good.”

The post-polio wise elders said:  It is essential to enjoy life and have fun. After working very hard earlier in life to achieve and achieve well, retirement emerged as a time to simply enjoy life more.  Employing a sense of humor was also designated to be important for coping well. “Laugh at yourself a lot; become a fun-loving mentor for others,” one person recommended.  “Take your scooter and be where you want to be—never feel like you are in the way,” another elder directed. An attractive former college English professor and now a prize-winning gardener and public speaker went on to say, “If you are paralyzed by polio, don’t be doubly paralyzed by life!” Further, another post-polio wise elder amicably advised, “when in doubt, go out for pizza!”

For me today, that means I will enthusiastically work to earn and save enough extra money so I can rent that big ground-grabber scooter and reserve that cozy wheelchair-accessible hotel room–as I joyfully anticipate making a summer trip to Colorado.  Woohoo!  Mountains, flowers, friends and wild gnarly animals–here I come in August! 

The centenarian said, “Don’t complain. Don’t bitch.”

The post-polio wise elders emphasized the importance of having a positive attitude.  Many believed that being optimistic got them through life and continues to do so. Two believed that they were born with a genetic leaning toward optimism. Another reflected that her original rehabilitation experience had encouraged an attitude of hope. Feeling self-pity was not an option during childhood rehabilitation and was ill- advised for late life. Comments noted were: “Make the best of things”, “Stay upbeat about life,” “Dwell on the good memories in life;” “Focus on life’s beauties that you appreciate.” Conversely, they warned against the negative: “Don’t dwell on the negative,” “Don’t hang around negative people,” and “Don’t get stuck in depression and complaining.”

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If I want to apply those words of wisdom today, instead of obsessing about my lethargic cabin fever blahs this week, after a huge snowstorm in Michigan, I will be grateful for not getting scooter-stuck in 19 inches of snow outside my door! And try hard to remember that, “Spring always comes.”  Gotta lighten up!

 

 

The Super Bowl centenarian said, “Tell the truth. Tell it like it is.”

The post-polio elders said,  “Be real,” and “Don’t do denial,” and “Accept new limitations.”  This call to truthfulness was expressed in a variety of ways:  “I say do what you can and that’s it.  I have to accept what I can do and know what I cannot do.” “It’s much better to set your own parameters than for someone else to do it.” “Take the message from ‘The Gambler’ song– know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em...” Accepting both early and new disability-related physical/medical characteristics was deemed to be foremost in importance. Fully accepting life and one’s self was an important coping strategy that has been adopted by the post-polio wise elders.

For me, that means not denying, but fully accepting and  ‘fessing up that using a wheelchair full time really requires a committed change in eating and exercise habits to stay healthy.  And that it’s important to reach out for help when it comes to such tough adaptations. Hmm…maybe I need a personal trainer.

Several of the wise elders whom I interviewed have now passed away; most have not. May I take this opportunity to thank them all, along with the Dodge centenarians, for teaching us more about living well as we age–with or without a disability.  May we continue to listen, learn and, as my Dad directed, respect our elders!

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Honor and Blessings to Our Post-Polio Wise Elders

 

P.S.    I hereby fully admit that I remain just a “wise elder-in-training.” It seems that every day I earnestly and openly search for new wisdom. As I seek out my favorite role models and look to their advice, I am also beginning to realize that my job is to ultimately become my own “number one wise elder.”

I have found, however, that the journey for that optimumSalzburg shops 1 truth is an imperfect, often rocky pilgrimage.  It’s ever-changing, messy; filled with trial and error, discouragement, elation.  It can be so ego-disheveling, but bit-by-bit, it also can be lovely and peace-producing.  I guess the best I can do, along with contemplating the advice of others, is to continue to listen to the soft voice deep within me–then really trust it. You?

 

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Do you have a personally-learned tidbit of wisdom to share with us here? Something that really works for you?

Do you have your own personal wise elder–post-polio or not–a role model for growing older gracefully with a post-polio disability ?

Who might he or she be?

What have you learned from them?

What might they teach all of us?

Would love to hear your thoughts by way of the comment section below…

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Follow this link to find more about … Wisdom

A Couple More Thoughts on Spirituality and Disability

“Pain Passes. Love lasts a lifetime.” (anonymous)

Quite often during my lifetime with a socially-obvious disability from polio, I DSC04588 thotshave lived as a human optical illusion.  Visually, I unintentionally convey a false impression to those who first see me. I am not always what I seem to be.

How many times have you seen strangers look at you with great pity in their eyes?  Or say things like, “You poor dear, it must be horrible to be confined to a wheelchair.”  How many times have you encountered misguided religious zealots in shopping malls who want to convert you and heal you on the spot because they assume you are weak and pathetic? Once, an old drunk stumbled up to me on the street. Singling me out, he handed me 35 cents in nickles and pennies and said, “here girl, you need this more than me,” then staggered away. I was 14 and with a bunch of suddenly dumbstruck teenage friends. So much for fitting in.

Ouch! That kind of stuff is painful.  Heavy sigh…guess I’ll never be good at making great first impressions.

I believe that those crazy encounters are generated by well-meaning, but sorely limited people, who see life mostly on a physical plane. They are the self-called realists who connect disability to discontent and human deficiency. They are the people who don’t really know us.

But what is it, exactly, that they don’t get?

Plenty!

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Personal Reflection Number One…

They don’t get that as we polio survivors grow older and wiser (see The Wise Elder Report above) with our disability, most of us have built strong social support networks. As Maya Angelou said, we have learned that “love saves us.” We enjoy life. We tap into being optimistic and have grown into greater, deeper self-acceptance. We have learned to use our assertiveness skills to our advantage and are well-educated. Finally, we are often spiritually tuned into powerful unseen dimensions because, thankfully, our disability has taken us there. And, for me, that last point is huge.

I believe that each of us has deep inside, a divine spark. It is a glimmer of God, a radiance and purity that longs to be affirmed. It is also a glimmer of God that affirms us and keeps us strong when we tap into it.

“Pain passes.  Love lasts a lifetime…”    I say, (stomp! stomp!) forgive and forget the pain, the false assumptions, the heartbreak, the goofy statements. Dwell in the love!  It works better!

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Personal Reflection Number Two...

But how do we tap into our spirituality? There are so many avenues. For starters, here are three simple ways I’ve used to connect with my spiritual self:

1. Meditate. Meditation is a mental exercise designed to bring about a heightened level of spiritual awareness and trigger a spiritual or religious experience.

Living alone and being semi-retired, I have extra time these days to sit quietly and meditate in the morning, which I love. Polio has relentlessly requested that I become more sedentary than ever, which I fought at first, but have found has at least one hidden advantage. I can relax and take time to focus on the positive–in the here and now. When I focus on the life force inside me, I find the experience to be renewing and calming. It also fills my brain with delightful and surprising new insights and ideas. So, the experience I am describing is–being still, and then calling upon God to be with me in the present moment. The experience soon turns into a two-way prayer.

Intrigued? Ready to learn more about this ancient practice now embraced as good for people of all ages in our nerve-racked culture? There are lots of good books out there on meditating. Check out this Amazon link: books on meditation Anyone have a favorite reference on meditation to recommend to others? 

2. Stay home or get together at a friend’s place and watch inspiring programs on television like the Super Soul Sunday shows that Oprah presents on her OWN TV channel, Sunday mornings. A wide range of fascinating guest speakers discuss matters of the soul with Oprah Winfrey. These guided conversations can be fun to tape and watch throughout the week, as well. She also has an appealing Facebook page you might want to check out.

3. Join kindred spirits at your chosen house of worship. For me, my spirituality and my religion are great equalizers. At church we are more than our physical bodies; we have a spirit to share and we share the Holy Spirit. Many of us need that social connection and that spirit connection to get through everyday life.

When I was a younger woman living with polio, I had several personal experiences with my church friends that were transforming. I call them “feeling the presence of God” or “Holy Spirit moments.”  Like the time I was sitting in my girlfriend’s big country kitchen with her. It was Christmas time and we were anxiously struggling to resolve some big life issue. Christmas carols softly filled the room with angelic melodies. The aroma of cinnamon potpourri simmering on the nearby stove calmed our senses. Her Christmas tree sparkled from the next room.  Suddenly she looked across the room and softly affirmed, “God is here with us.” Surprised, I stopped chattering. She was right. I felt engulfed by a mysterious sweet and calm presence. And in that moment we both knew everything we communally worried about that day would be okay. And it was.

And those are just a few ways to connect with our wonderful spirit within–with a vigorous, compassionate love–that certainly surpasses all pain.

sunn rAfter working my way to the ending of this post, all I can conclude at this moment is, “in the grand scheme of things, who cares that much about first impressions anyway!?”  

Being underestimated can actually be fun at times. It has given me many convenient chances to surprise–even stun people–in all kinds of positive ways.

And woohoo!    

That is rewarding–for everybody.

 

Onward and upward!

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What inspires you?

What might be some simple ways you have tapped into the spiritual part of yourself?

Sharing one idea here may help someone out there re-connect with the light inside themselves…

 

–Special thanks to my young friend, Catharina Rink, for sharing her recent photos (above) of Australian seascapes, as she is on an adventure and pilgrimage to discover the wonders of that vast country this year.   Currently in Melbourne.  Next stop: New Zealand!–

–Also many thanks to Catharina’s brother, Sebastian, who took the two photos of me at a favorite coffee shop while in Germany. Sebastian celebrates his 16th birthday this week! Vielen Dank, Herr Rink and alles gute zum geburtstag!–

 

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article, you may want to subscribe–free of charge–to receive an email every 10 days or so, announcing the latest post. Just go to the right sidebar here to sign up.  Enjoy!

 

 

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