Monday, December 15, 2014

A Difficult Choice . . . .

In my constant endeavor to declutter, I came across this essay written by my son, Joel, in sixth or seventh grade.  He is now in his senior year of college.  When he wrote this, his teacher (I forget which one), thought that I would want to read this, too, and have a copy.  I'm so glad she did!  I think we can all learn something from his attitude and thoughts from long ago, when he was probably about 12 years old (I did ask for permission to share this, and he said I could.):
Joel on a visit to Bristol, TN (around 2003 or 2004)

'Tis always a hassle to begin an essay such as this.  Flowery and aloof introductions are not my type, so I thought I'd might as well begin in this manner.  So now that this essay is started, I think it's time to get to the point--a difficult choice that arose from a problem in my life.  Such occurred in my life at about age 6.  At that point it was determined that I stutter.  Stuttering, a form of speech impediment, is defined by "blocks" and repetitions of sounds  as well as other behavioral and vocal implications.  With this impediment, I was posed with a decision:  Run from it or live with it.

To run from my speech impediment would be easy for the average person in this situation.  I would not associate or communicate with other people, fearing they would not understand and/or mock and make fun of my speech.  It would mean I would crawl into a social hole and wallow in self-pity.  This would cause me to feel lonely as well as depressed.  I would be a sorry excuse for a kid, an entire social and psychological wreck at age 10.  Sound fun to you?

On the other hand, I could stand up and deal with this minor disability--which is exactly what it is; minor.  I would go into the world and dare it to accept me as I am.  Facing fears, possible dangers of getting teased and general uncertainty.  I would be much stronger on the back end.  I'd be able to face most anything else coming at me, able to seek ways to better my speech itself, able to just be a normal kid.  Does that sound a bit better?
Playing Rail Baron with cousins

putting everything he's got into a Steeplechase race!  (2013)  Photo courtesy of Paul Nesmith

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The End of An Era, Really

I wish that I could share my extended family (both maternal and paternal) with everyone I know. Even though no one is perfect in my extended family, we have learned to love and accept and enjoy everyone just because they are family. (I never realized what a treasure that philosophy is until I moved away from home---I used to think that all families were this way.) My aunts, uncles, and cousins know how to laugh without belittling anyone---they find joy in living, enjoying hard work and the simple things of life.

My dad is one of four siblings, my mom is one of nine. For over four decades, I have enjoyed each and every one of my parents' siblings. All are different in their own way, with very unique personalities and areas of giftedness---but all are loved for exactly who they are.

This week marks the end of an era in my family. I can no longer say that all my parents' siblings are still living. My Uncle John Price has passed from this earth yesterday. While I would never wish him back (he doesn't need to struggle to breathe any more), his entire, huge family--both immediate and extended--will sorely miss his presence here on earth.

So tonight my thoughts and prayers go out especially to Aunt Patsy, Teresa, Kim, and Mark, their spouses and their children, and to my mom and all of Uncle John's siblings who will miss him (especially on "Brother's Day", at the Price sibling lunches which my cousins have begun to host, and at Mom's "Spring Fling"). Our tears express some of the depths of our often unspoken love.

"To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." and "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted." These two simple verses are some of the few comforting thoughts (to me, at least) in these times of sorrow.

"With your final heartbeat, kiss the world goodbye. Then go in peace and laugh on glory's side." (Chris Rice, from his song, "Untitled Hymn" [Come to Jesus])

I Just Want to Talk to a REAL person!

Does anyone besides me greatly dislike the phone services which most companies have---where you have to press a chain of numbers and guess which category your question may fall under? Well, several weeks ago, we had a "situation" whereby my cell phone was lost (probably in the bushes or the creek at Hersheypark, is my guess, from what my son said, and with him trying to figure out the possible trajectory---he's really into physics). So I called AT&T. I have a go-phone, so this is a bit more complicated than the contract phones. None of their answering machine categories fit my problem or question, and "went around in circles" on their phone tree several times. I was getting exasperated, and finally said to the automated voice, "I JUST WANT TO TALK TO A REAL PERSON!!!!" To my surprise, the automated voice then said, "Okay! I'll connect you with a customer service representative." Wow! I think I'll have to try that more often!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Great Quote on Marriage . . . .

I've been thinking about marriage lately, mainly because our small group at church is studying a chapter in our study book about us being the "Bride of Christ" (and so we have to dig in to figure out what exactly that means) . . . partly because my kids are getting older and I want them to have a good and right perspective on marriage (and opposed to what I perceive as society's very casual and often negative attitude towards the institution) and in a very small part because of just a snippet of conversation on my brother-in-law's Facebook status and subsequent comments. And then, today, after following some links from a "Tweet" I received, I came across this quote from "Plugged In Online." (Abby will like that I read this.) Sometimes you read what people write and think, I TOTALLY agree with that. How TRUE that is. So here, from Reviewer Paul Asay (on his review of "When In Rome"--found at ):

I'll rebut Pops' perspective with this: Marriage is about so much more than passion, more than risk—more than a lottery ticket where the winners get fairy-tale endings and losers find divorce attorneys. Marriage is about commitment—commitment that holds firm through the fickle vagaries of human emotion. Yes, there's risk involved in it, but marriage should never be analogous to rolling the dice in a game of chance. Rather, it's like building a house: You check the foundation, you build the angles square, you make sure the place will last a lifetime.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Variety of Thoughts . . .

It's been over a year since I've posted here! Our family has gone through many changes--mainly the graduation of our oldest child, Abby. The day after graduation, we left for a few days of vacation, visiting with some long-time friends. Then once we arrived home, Abby moved out! It was a week of whirlwind changes, but I think we all adjusted well. Abby moved out because her job at the local college included room and board. She loved staying there and working there for the summer, and now she loves being a college student. She has also entered a dating relationship with her long-time friend David, but if you want to read about that, you'll have to read their blogs. It's their story to tell (it's a good and interesting one!), and I'll stay out of it unless I'm asked my opinion!

Joel is in his junior year of high school, and he's very, very busy! Anna loves her first year of middle school. She's just about as tall as I am, and her feet are bigger than mine!

My latest thoughts (ones which I want to post, anyway---not all my thoughts are postable to the public in my opinion) are not necessarily deep ones:

1) I think I know why people don't use wallpaper as much as they used to. It's a PAIN to take off when you decide you want a different look for the room. I'm currently redoing my kitchen, and just taking off the wallpaper border and subsequently getting all of the glue off was tedious and time consuming. I also want to redo my living room this coming year, but I will need to take off all of the original (1939) wallpaper which has been painted over for seven decades. It seems like an overwhelming job. But if I get the kitchen finished (paint the ceiling, walls, AND cupboards), maybe my sense of accomplishment will help spur me on to the next project . . . but do I want to tackle the dining room walls, first? There is no wallpaper underneath those walls--just underneath the ceiling in that room.

2) Does it mean a person is getting "old" if when you go to your family doctor for a regular physical, he asks if you have a living will? Guess hubby and I are there, because he said he got the same question a few months ago. I told the doctor that I've already told the family I don't want to be a vegetable . . . "Pull the plug." My doctor smiled and said, "That's very good, but we need to have that documented in your file."

That's it for now . . . need to get off the computer and get some things done.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Can I Learn? . . . . Thoughts about family, friends, personalities, and character traits

Somedays I can be very introspective, and sometimes I can spend a year or two observing people (I love to watch people and learn from them!) and pick up little bits of wisdom in my observations. As my children age and mature and continue to develop and hone their personalities and character traits, I find myself seeing bits of myself and bits of Scott in them (those personality and character traits). And I can see bits of my both of my parents (personality and character traits) in myself. I think it goes beyond that, as well. Coming from a close-knit extended family, and spending time with aunts and uncles, I even see bits of them in myself (both sides of my family).

I watch my extended family and see how extraordinarily functional they are as a family unit (not that they're perfect people, but it's difficult to find functional family units these days!). So I've been thinking these past years and observing . . . what makes them functional? What causes them to laugh at life and be mostly cheerful and hopeful? A big part of that is our faith, I know. But there are other aspects which I've observed and hope to learn from. Sometimes I wish I had learned these things earlier in life.

One bit of wisdom I perceived a few years ago and continue to remember is that in our functional, extended family, as a rule, the most hopeful and emotionally healthy people don't wallow in their misery. Sure, there are some serious issues going on, and sure, we are not in denial about those things. But when everyone is together, the majority of conversation focuses on the hopeful things of life. The serious issues are discussed, but they are not the main focus. As a rule, there's not much complaining going on. Just an acceptance of life as it comes (the good as well as the bad), yet always thinking and keeping ears and eyes open for opportunities which arise.

Our family isn't necessarily wealthy or powerful by society's standards. Yet they have passed along to the younger generations a legacy of faith, loyalty, and the importance of a strong family unit as a support system. I'm praying that I will continue to pass along those elements to my children by being an example to them of the same. I'm also hoping that they will show me some grace (as my family has during my growing and maturing decades), knowing that I'm not perfect (they already know that, they assured me once).

I also want to broaden my scope as far as learning from people. I continue to watch and analyze what makes my family work, but I'm also working in a different area at trying to accept others for who they are, even when I'm not in my comfort zone. I was thinking just yesterday that with every encounter with people, I should be asking myself, "What can I learn from this person?" Try to find the good and positive character traits of each person I come into contact with (instead of focusing on how different they may be from me). Maybe that can be a goal for the coming year (among many other goals on my mental list!).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grandma's Optimism

I was thinking of my Grandma the other day. It could be that many would not give my Grandma a second glance in a crowd. She was quiet and unassuming, and even though she wasn't any type of "powerhouse" person in the business and corporate world, she raised nine children through tough times---and she raised them well and in such a way that they are all still very close as siblings, and many of her 33 grandchildren are still in touch with each other and supportive in good times and bad. When we need to "circle the wagons" when bad things happen (I'm thinking now of the tragic death of my teenage nephew a few years ago), the cousins and spouses are right there with us (I remember being so grateful to have them close and chatting at Ben's viewing.)

Anyway . . . got off course there . . . .remembering Grandma's optimism . . . I was outside the other day, and since some of my bushes have grown these past few years, I decided that pruning shears were just not an efficient or a sufficient tool to use, so I discovered Scott's hedge trimmers (or what do you call them--I don't know--they're not electric; just two sizeable blades controlled by two handles) in the garage, and I thought, "Perfect!" So I started hacking away at those bushes. While I don't think anyone would hire me as a landscaper, the bushes looked much better than if I had snipped away with the pruning shears. (I won't include a photo, because they're not that pretty, but they'll grow out beautifully next spring.)

That's what caused me to remember Grandma and her cheerful and optimistic attitude. I remember one Saturday (she always had Saturday dinner for anyone who showed up, and there were usually more than 30 of us . . . we had to eat in shifts in her small ranch-style home each week) she was having the uncles trim her bushes out front of our house. She had one pine tree (or maybe it was a holly bush---I don't remember) in front of her bedroom window. When my uncles trimmed that bush, they REALLY hacked away at it! I remember a group of us looking at it once they had finished, and even though I was probably 12 or younger, I looked at that bush and thought, "Oh, that looks AWFUL!" (That part I DEFINITELY remember!) It was mostly branches, and hardly any greenery left. I was rather worried about how it looked, and one of my aunts (or maybe it was me?) said something to my Grandma about how much they had trimmed and how we weren't sure it looked all that great. But my Grandma just shrugged and smiled and said, "Oh! It'll grow out!" It did, too!