Tuesday, September 26, 2006
"It Takes A Lot Of Courage......
to show your dreams to someone else." Erma Bombeck's quotation hit me right smack in the gut. Telling someone what I hope to do or accomplish is also saying out loud to myself that I will. So far, there are two challenges here.
What if I don't do what I say, and what if someone I trust to appreciate my dream, doesn't?

I am not a "what if I don't" kind of person, so am reminded of something someone said: "Orville, it'll never fly." Not that Orville Wright, or his brother, Wilbur, invented the airplane all by themselves, but the next time you hear a jet going over, you may want to give those two dreamers a moment of appreciation for not giving up on their dream.

I don't know why there seems to be more negative in the world than positive. You'd think it would at least balance out.

Could it have anything to do with a shortage of dreamers, or enough ordinary people wanting to accomplish something so much they'll keep at it, util they do? Have people become so used to a settle for life that they don't yearn for anything better?

Think about it, although they may not say it, they have to feel the emptiness of not dreaming. How can anyone feel good about that!

When you come along with your high minded dreams, it reminds them they won't try. That's when you can know what someone is made of.

If they would disparage what you hope to do, to salve the bitter gall of their not dreaming, you would be wise to choose someone else to tell yours to.

I'd like to tell you a story, a real life story about one woman's dream, and how far reaching it not only grew, but continues.

I won't bore you with many dates and places I might lull you to sleep with, for I don't want you to miss what one person reaching for a dream can do.

If you're a detail person who enjoys exact data, it's all shown in Debra Faulkner's wonderful book, "Touching Tomorrow", about this outstanding lady.

She was born in Cincinnati,Ohio in 1868. Lived a while in Nebraska, where she taught school. She came to Denver, and that's where her dream grew.

Like many who taught in our country in her time, Emily Griffith began with what education she could get. This reminds me a little of the Mark Twain quote we wrote about last week. Not that education isn't important, but maybe there's more than one way to get it.

Miss Griffith continued teaching in Denver. Faulkner's book gives much detail about her efforts, as her dream became airborne.


I first heard about her in the 70's. Like her, I had only an official 8th grade education, but a dream was growing in me too. I just didn't realize it at the time.

It didn't happen for a while, but don't let that discourage you. Even dreams sometime take time to grow.

I was working as a mail runner in an advertising company in Denver. I noticed a commercial artist's drawings, and asked how she learned to do the art work. She told me she got her training at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School.

Today, about thirty years later I realize that conversation wasn't happenstance.

I bumbled around a few years looking for a knight on a great stallion. Didn't find him, and after more searches for him, ended up back in Denver, almost destitute.

Some good people helped me, and after a while I thought maybe I could do better than just clean cafeteria tables.

I worked my hardest ever as a nursing assistant. Long ago I would see my aunt put on her white starched uniform and go to work. She always seemed happy about it.

I was not happy about nurses aid work. It was hard! Having to lift patients in and out of bed, and changing and cleaning them wasn't pleasant.

But the idea had been planted by the artist in the advertising company. At work in the nursing home, I noticed what the nurses did, and then I remembered the artist had said the school she went to taught many subjects.
So I got the phone number and called, and the rest, if you'll pardon an over used expression, is history.

I didn't succeed with my first try. I had started the training, and when we got to what to me was heavy math, I was terrified. I had been married, and had six children, back when c-sections weren't yet done, but until I dreaded that math so much, I did not know what a panic attack was. My throat would almost close up. So
I dropped out of training.

Isn't it amazing how God uses even the unpleasant to show us something we need to look at. I had to have surgery, and while in the hospital, and noticing the nurses working, realized I had already learned quite a bit in my first nurses training.

Two weeks after surgery, and certainly not telling anybody at the school offices about it, I enrolled again, to give it another try.

No, it wasn't just a try. I didn't know how I would deal with the math, but I knew one thing. I would finish.

I taped a "can do" I clipped from a magazine on my locker door, and beneath the "can do" facetiously wrote: "Don't get married this year".

Like Indian chiefs and our country's military, every time I opened that locker door I saw my battle cry.

Do you think Emily Griffith sometimes needed courage, not just to tell of her dream, but to see it through? Every day I was in school I needed a lot of it. But that just made the finishing it sweeter.

You want to know how big a dream can be? Long after she walked and breathed, and gave life to her hope that poor folks and their children could be educated, a number of people, a number so big I can't even imagine it, today have hope for their dreams, because Miss Emily did.

  posted at 1:19 PM  
  9 comments


Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Christian Women Online Quote:
"No distinction was made between the sacred and the everyday....Their life was all one piece. It was all sacred and all ordinary." Sue Bender, author of Plain and Simple.


When this quotation was forwarded to me so I might comment about it, I thought, that's easy! Our lives are not to be compartmentalized, with one area sacred, and the other only ordinary.

As I thought more about it I asked the question: what do the two words mean?

Sacred: to be holy, to be consecrated to God.

Ordinary: customary, usual, familiar.


To understand my point of view about this, maybe it would help to know my religious background. Early on I was introduced to Methodist ideology, and then Southern Baptist.

I also attended what we called Sawdust stomping, holy roller revivals. Later another family took me to Episcopalian services.


A school mate got me to hurry to her Catholic church with her, so she could confess her sins before Easter services. (We were about twelve years old then).

Once in a while someone would knock on my door, and try to give me pamplets explaining why their particular religious belief was the one and only way to Heaven.

Another group, it seemed to me, placed more importance on their hierarchy of church government than whether Jesus died for our sins.

In the seventies, I learned of Eastern religions. It was almost like doing Yoga would save your soul. Just meditate enough, and it was done.


Five different families had me baptized so my soul would be safe. By then I was getting confused. Was Southern Baptist better than an Eastern belief? Are the Catholics' flowing robes with candle and incense ceremonies more pleasing to God than the Glory Halleluiah, roll in the aisle tent revivals?

Since moving from Denver to the western part of Colorado, I see a difference in how churches of the same religious persuasion conduct their services.

While livng in Kansas not many years ago, I was surprized that only 200 miles from Denver, an unspoken rule, (the very worst kind of rule) dictated how women dressed.

When I saw Amish people in the marketplace there, we never discussed sacred religion or ordinary life. The women didn't speak. No eye contact was made.

I saw an Amish lady in a Grand Junction store the other day, and her demeanor was the same.

They were easily recognized by their clothes, their shoes, how they combed and pinned their hair. Catholic sisters, or Nuns, until recent years, kept their hair covered. Pentecostal or Assembly of God women did not wear makeup, or quite noticeable jewelry, but they put elaborate buns in their hair, and twirled it into intricate styles. Many of them believed they should not cut their hair.

But back to the quotation: "Their life was all one piece. It was all sacred and all ordinary." Religious groups seem to acquire certain physical trademarks that quickly become that group's norm. But does that mean there is only one proper way to live?

In the Christian's Bible, in the new Testament, over and over, Jesus tried to get across to the religious people that salvation wasn't about how sacred they appeared to be. Their sacredness didn't depend on how properly they folded their hands when praying, or if their prayer robes were spotless enough. That same group of people found fault with Jesus and His followers when a lame or blind person was healed on a day people were not suppose to work. In their lives rules and tradition prevailed.

Not that we should show disrespect for solemnity, but we need to put the emphasis where it needs to be.

The Amish people, especially the women, exude piety. You would never see them in public, or not even in private, wearing scantily clothed dress. This brings to mind something I did when I joined an Assembly of God Church years ago. None of the women wore makeup. So I went home from church, and threw my makeup in the garbage.

That simple an act tells me how easily people can be influenced by social dictates of behaviour.

I believe Sue Bender, while writing of the Amish couldn't help reflecting their lifestyle. In that regard, their life was all sacred, and all ordinary.

I also believe our everyday lives can be sacred, or just ordinary, depending on how we treat each other.

Baking bread and cooking soup might be considered merely ordinary, but to the family plagued with sickness or some other crisis, that bread and soup becomes a sacred piece of love, straight from the heart of Jesus, delivered by we ordinary humans.

  posted at 12:52 PM  
  7 comments


Thursday, September 14, 2006
Riverboat Man and Education
My daughter, Bev, at Blessed Beyond Measure, told me about quotes each week we bloggers can do posts on. One she mentioned was offered while she was in Texas, helping out with another grandbaby's arrival, so she passed the quote on to me.

It was attributed to Mark Twain, and went:"Don't let school get in the way of your education".

I love learning, and know some about Mr. Twain, but not much. I hurried to the nearest book store, and found his autobiography, a big heavy one. When I picked it up, knew it would take hours to read. I'm really getting into his quote now, and need to be sure what I post is correct, so I kept looking.

I remembered some things about him from my early school days, that his pen name came from something about riverboat men checking water depths, and that he had a huge sense of humor, verified by the many situations his book characters, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn kept getting into.

I found a useful reference book, "1,000 Years, 1,000 People Ranking The Men And Women Who Shaped The Millennium." Lots of people, lots of history. It gave some information, but I needed more.

I was getting discouraged, and about ready to go to another book store, or try to find a library, when I remembered seeing a display of children's books. Found it, and there they were; "The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer", and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

They were very small books, maybe six by ten inches, and an inch and a half thick. The binding felt like sturdy cloth, and the page edges looked like they had been sprayed with gold. Couldn't be, though. They cost only $5.95. They even had a little ribbon book marker.

As I write this, I mentally compare Mark Twain's characters to babies' arrivals, you know, giving weight, length, and distinguishing colors. When you think about it, his stories were like a birth. Outstanding American author, Ernest Hemingway
said "All modern American literature comes from one book: "The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.""

Information in the afterword and the biography in the Huckleberry Finn book at least points to the possibility that Mark Twain wrote more about himself, than about his imaginary characters. I understand Twain was about thirty years old when he wrote those little books. That's old enough to see parts of one's life more maturely than young Sawyer or Finn might,and safely shielded him from criticism. Twain could act out all kinds of fantisies. After all, they were only children's stories.

His bigoraphy also mentions quite a cultural difference between he and his wife. His work in printing, and on a riverboat may not have impressed her social group. Mark Twain clearly didn't like wearing fancy clothes, or going to uppity social events.

It seems to me he was happiest when he felt as free as those little boys in his books.

He wrote others, but too many to list here, or I'll never get around to discussing the educational part of the quote.

We all need to know how to read and write, and at least basic math is necessary, even for simple lives, but I
believe Mark Twain got more education from how he lived, and how his life was, than he could ever get from sitting in a classroom, learning by repetition.

He died in 1910. I think it's quite fitting when Mark Twain's remembered, it's with an understanding look, a wistful remembering the boy in the man, or was it the other way around.

While my name would not be included in the 1,000 Years, 1,000 People reference book mentioned above, it was between America's Great Depression and World War II that I was born.

Certainly, my life's not been as interesting as Mark Twain's, but I have seen many changes in how children are educated. I won't bore you about how many miles it was to school, or how many times I dodged getting my hair stuck in the inkwell on the awful boy's desk behind mine.


A little like Mark Twain's, most of my education was not in classrooms. My aunt taking me to a library and getting me a library card when I was 8 or 9 years old is one of the most outstanding events of all my learning. A teacher showing me empathy, telling me I could soar with learning, even though I didn't look very promising, and wasn't dressed nice, and didn't live in a better part of town.
College instructers encouraging me to keep learning, co-workers telling me of a school in Denver where I could do nurses training..... I could go on and on.

All I would say to teachers is, if you want to help children who don't show much promise, give them some hope. You just never know, you may be courting another Mark Twain.

  posted at 8:41 PM  
  8 comments


Tuesday, September 12, 2006
URL Be Surprised!
I don't know if I can figure out how to post here, and get it to connect with daughter Barb's "How I Met My Honey" site, but will try, and even if I don't do this correctly, at least I now know what URL means.

For more than a week, I and all the other nurses at work have been learning a crash course about computers. If you'll pardon the pun, what crashed the most were the lap tops we were using.

So far I've learned enough to enter patient information into the system, record pain levels, enter new orders, and discontinue others. We're learning how to record skin care, not just rubbing lotion on arms and legs, but treating open skin wounds, what's commonly called bed sores.

There are little one letter codes for all sorts of things; blood sugar levels, fluid intake, amount of insulin given, lots of stuff like that.

Old habits die hard, especially twenty five year old habits. When I was exasperated because I couldn't get the computer to do what I needed it to, I sometimes physically reached for where the old med book or other patient information used to be, but was quickly reminded all the information is mostly in the computer now.

Getting really good at this new system will take practice, and time. Some say it takes about three weeks to form a new habit. If that's so, I have about a week and a half to go before I start to be good at it.

So please pray for me, and all the other nurses. While we're spending much time at the laptops (that still occasionally crash) there are patients to take care of.

  posted at 6:09 PM  
  2 comments


To Mark The Day
I don't know, maybe it's easier for me to deal with the rawness of human life, and death, because in my work I've seen so much of it. It may even partly be because I'm Irish, fighting Irish. But when I learned about Nine Eleven it was awhile before anger surfaced.

I woke up that morning noticing the little red light blinking on my phone, with a message from a son who had learned about the first plane, but he was so upset, his message wasn't clear.

I turned on the news expecting to see some insane creature had flown into a building in some foreign country. When I realized it was in ours, the numbness set in.

I've never been a big TV watcher. Seldom turn it on. It was like all feeling left my body, and the shell of it was dazed. A few days later I remembered how I reacted to the Oklahoma slaughter of innocent people a few years before.

When I saw what was left of that building, I thought it was in some far off place, and was astounded one person could do that much harm.

As I learned of the other planes, I realized the one that crashed in Pennsylvania was intended for the White House. I cared much about that, but my more personal concern was that it crashed much too close to roads and campgrounds my daughter Bev and family use.

The helplessness of it all is what bothered me most. I had to find a flag, our flag. Stores quickly sold all they had, so I was ecstatic, almost happy, when more arrived.

I don't mean to be morbid about Nine Eleven. The title of this is what I hope you'll remember. Like most of us, I functioned in my immediate world, dealt with my immediate concerns, and often felt there wasn't enough of me to go around then, in what I thought was a calmer, safer place.

Nine Eleven shook all complacency out of me, taught me to never again take for granted anything about my country. Each of us remembers a certain detail about it, a certain thing that reminds us, not just that it happened, but asks what can we do to keep it from happening again.

One picture about it is forever in my mind, the firemen, covered with smut and dust and grime, raising a battered flag. I found a keychain with the picture. I'm glad it's well made, for I want it to last a long, long time.

Yesterday I felt restless, so I went to a shopping mall. Didn't see much signifying the day displayed, but was thinking about it, and suddenly realized what I could do to mark the day.

City and State provide offices there where citizens can get marriage licenses, update vehicle registrations, maybe even get tags for animals, and pay taxes. I wasn't sure, but went in and asked, and the lady said yes, when I asked if I could register to vote.

I filled out the paper and handed it to her, and thought, that's it! It is just that easy to take our country and its freedoms for granted.


I'd been here three months. Done lots of shopping in the mall, but until the anniversary of Nine Eleven hadn't bothered to find out where to sign up to vote.


As I walked away I clutched the keychain in my pocket, and was relieved our country survived another year since Nine Eleven.

  posted at 11:30 AM  
  4 comments


Friday, September 08, 2006
This Is A Test, It Is Only A Test...........
This is a practice, it is only a writing practice. If it had been a real one, it would have grabbed a reader's attention, but I do think I'm on to something.

On my way home from work tonight I was upset. Certain parts of my anatomy did drag. The shifts we have little choice about as the nursing shortage worsenes results in some very long hours. I don't mind the work. I am honored that someone trusts me to do what's best for them, to take care of them, when they can't. I expect it to sometimes ask even a lot of me. But I so need a little of me left over once in a while.


So I have an idea. When I'm tired and weary, I will try to describe how that feels. (This is only a test, remember) and when I'm happy about something, will tell you about that, too.
I'll keep notes that may be exactly what a writer needs to tell a wonderful story. But remember, this is only a test.

  posted at 8:56 PM  
  2 comments


Wednesday, September 06, 2006
When Leaves Fall Again
Last week before I did another three in a row work shifts, I was so proud. Had written something if only for practice, every day.
Then my body insisted on resting and sleeping, (a little like daughter Bev and family needed after Landon was born).

I felt I lost whatever keeps a writer writing, but that was faulty logic. Logic I should not conclude while too tired to think clearly.

I think I should rest when I need to, and when I get some days off, write, if I want to, nonstop.


That's what I did last night when I shared how my son died. Until daughter, Barb mentioned it I hadn't remembered this is the time of year he loved most. Fishing was great, but hunting is what he longed for. While I wanted to see leaves fall, he longed to drop a big deer, or a bigger elk.

I never thought of this before, but his idea of what was beautiful, in the streams and the woods, and the mountains, and life, was just as important to him as what I hope to see when leaves fall again.

  posted at 10:16 PM  
  2 comments


Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Walk A While With Me
I don't know how to title this. Perhaps before I finish it, I will. It was my evening shift. The nurse I usually work with is more rough around the edges than necessary, and moody. She could make even silence work for her, but I had grown used to it, so wasn't surprised she was more quiet than usual.

I had almost finished giving patients their medicines. Still had paper work to do, but one who required little care needed a few minutes of my time, so I gave them to her.

She loved our singing a little song together about diamonds being a girl's best friend. So we did, and I continued pushing the medicine cart.

As I neared the nurses' station, several members of my family rushed in to tell me my son, their brother had killed himself.
One son had called ahead so other nursing staff would know.

The next weeks and months were unexplained chunks of time spent trying to understand. I functioned in a fog, not knowing or caring if it lifted, and for a long time it didn't.

A quiet little corner to come home to after work, and my Bible was what I held on to. I couldn't deal with much else.

Books about suicide say survivors of it grieve two deaths: that they died, and that they chose to.


I realize my son made the choice to stop living. but guilt, whether it's imagined, deserved, or heaped upon us, is just as difficult to bear.

He left a suicide note. In it he spoke mostly hatred and anger. After I read it I got scissors and cut it into tiny pieces, and threw it into garbage that would be picked up the next day. I didn't want to ever read it again.

He died almost two and a half years ago. I try to think of his chidhood instead of how his life ended, but I know it wasn't good, and though I couldn't make it better, I so wish I could. Lots of times he was not easy to like, and sometimes I got tired of trying. Now I wish I tried harder.

The worst part is knowing he felt we didn't care enough to help, even though I did help him many times. He feared being homeless, and would rather not live, than exist like that.
When I see a homeless person now, I try to see beyond the cardboard sign they're holding, try to see a soul in need of a bath, a shave. I wish I could get them new shoes, and clean clothes. I wonder how they came to be like they are. But I don't judge so quickly.

On the aniversary of my son's death, I drive somewhere and find one of them, and surprise them with more dollars than they probably hoped to get.

I don't care if they spend it on smokes or booze. A gift shouldn't be conditional. Other people buy cigs and drinks, and no one looks down on them or judges their spending. I can't change their circumstances, but I can do one little thing to make a miserable day better for them.


I give what I can to a charity that helps homeless and battered people. I'm not trying to buy freedom from guilt. I need freedom from regret.

When you haven't walked in someone else's shoes, it's real easy to say what they should or shouldn't do. When I pray about my son, I ask God to hold him tenderly. I so need him to know someone loves him.

  posted at 11:12 PM  
  19 comments


Friday, September 01, 2006
Oh September
You made it. Never mind if it's not the exact day your season's to arrive. Some may not be ready for the last one to leave, but I won't miss those two old hotheads, July and August. You've returned, and that's all I need.

I may never understand this. I think I've stopped trying, and give myself permission to just enjoy all you bring, Sweating less, digging out comfy old jackets and slacks. If they don't feel good, they don't get worn. Same goes for shoes.

Next stop, school supply shelves in the nearest store. Journals, pens, and little note pads wait for me, and I indulge. Maybe only another writer would understand this, but when I choose a few, especially if I don't need them, I feel luxurious.

You bring situations and events no other month of the year does. Your first Monday's reserved for the workers in our country. Cookouts and other events salute their sweat and toil. Have you considered what would happen if none of them showed up for work on your second Monday?

Another event we must never not show respect for, must never forget, is Nine Eleven. What American does not know what those numbers represent? Our freedom to live and be, to savor you again, to walk among the leaves you'll shed before a colder month returns. But until then September, I will cling to you.

  posted at 11:36 AM  
  1 comments





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Name: Judith

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