Is the summer half-over already??

Happy July to everyone!  Of course most of us think of the "fourth of July" when we think of July.  A day to celebrate our indenpendence from England. In less than 300 years, America has become the leading country in the world.  Sometimes I am astonished when I think about how powerful America is.  In Japan and China, one finds extremely intelligent people who are quite savvy .  In Germany, they expect, and prepare, each child for higher learning. In Canada, they have a great health care system they have figred out. In Costa Rica, just about everyone has just learned to slow down and enjoy life.  Each country has something unique to offer. I just happen to live in America so my loyalty is here, despite the craziness our country is experiencing right now. We have a great deal of poverty and inequality here in America. We have a long way to go to rectify the oppression and trauma inflicted on Americans over the past centuries. We are a country in crisis, yet we remain the great and powerful nation.  We can do our parts by reminding ourselves, and others, that ALL lives matter. That we are equal, no matter the color of our skin, our gender, or our sexual orientation. We have the right to be different, but we don't have the right to scorn another for his or her beliefs. As Americans, we must stand united and let no one, or any country, divide us.

On another note....... I used CBD oil for the first time last night. Dr. Hogan gave me permision to do so. CBD has no THC and I've heard testimonies of how it helps people in pain. There was no instant relief for me. I stll hurt all night long and I woke up feeling like a truck ran over me and I had a headache. I hope that was a coincidence and the oil doesn't cause me to have a hangover. Trust me, if anyone could have a strange side effect, it would be ME. I'll try for a month and see if I can finally get a reprieve from the immobility and pain. I'm hopeful.

It is hot and sunny in Alaska and I'm grateful for the sunshine. It's supposed to be this way all week. Finally it is summer! I'm staying home this weekend to do homework and Patrick will go back to the cabin to get some work done. (and fish.....) We have over a week there coming up starting the 14th (for me). As usual, we will be hosting several people. I stopped at Costco on the way home from the cabin yeterday and today I will be raiding my pantry for supplies.

7/6/18

I didn't make my bed today and the sky didn't fall. I was going to make my bed, but Ringo and Oreo were on it and I didn't want to disturb them. Our cute little kitty, Oreo, was a big bundle of fur until Patrick shaved about 75% of her hair off. He needs to shave the other 25%. (I'm not brave enough) Oreo is probably 12 years old and she's been more of Patrick's cat than mine. She follows him around like Ringo follows me.When she hears his truck pull into the driveway, she runs out and greets him like a dog would. So Miss Oreo was sleeping on my pillow. I just didn't have the heart to move her today. Usually I make the bed around her by placing her on various places of the bed. She doesn't get mad and leave, she just lies there until I move her again. By the time she got up, I decided there was no point in making my bed. I feel like such a rebel. A rebel without a cause......

The Seattle doctor called me today. He finally got to view the copies of my MRI. His conclusion remains the same; it must be the Firbromyalgia. I told him I am fed up with being labeled. Diabetic, leukemia patient, fibromyalgia, etc. I'm fed up with the labels. I just want to be me and not defined by many health problems. I told him I feel like he thinks I am making it all up. I told him I can handle the pain that wakes me up every night, I just can't handle the immobility I experience. I just want to be able to move!  I have had CBD oil four nights yet and there is no difference. I'm giving it a whole month before I call it quits.

We have been having such glorious weather this week. It was 82 today and has been around 80 all week. I believe the rains are supposed to start Sunday and last at least a week. :(   Let's enjoy the sunshine while we have it and not complain it's too hot.

Patrick went to the cabin today so he could work on the downstairs. But he's out on the river. He claims it's too hot to work right now.....Yeah, I saw that one coming! I wanted to stay home this week and visit with family. Tomorrow we are having a big family gathering at my cousin's house. We don't do that very often so I'm looking forward to it. I also need to get motivated to make a couple of dishes in the morning. I'll do that after I make my bed.

7/7/18

Today I shared this with a friend whose child recently died.

It’s a huge adjustment when we have a child die. Part of your heart is missing. The hole in your heart will never go away, but in time, it will have a flap covering it. Envision that flap covering a hole and air blowing up in it. When the flap is up, the pain is intense and painful. When the flap is down, there will be some relief from the pain. You will know it’s a temporary moment - perhaps it’s when you are holding a grandchild, catching a fish, or going on a hike. At that moment you feel good- and that’s okay! The flap is going to open again and the pain will come back. Don’t let the flap stay open permanently. Allow it to close so you can have a reprieve from the pain. When it’s open- allow yourself to feel your daughter. Remember her life. Enjoy the memories of the good times. But when it’s closed, live, dream, and love.

7/9/18

It dropped 20 degrees since Saturday. It's cold, windy, and dismal looking out there. Ringo tolerates my long periods of inactivity as best he can, but today he insisted we go for a walk. How can I say no to him knowing tomorrow is surgery day for him. He won't be able to take a walk for a few weeks. It's the least i could do for him. I was thinking about the winter of 2015 when we were walking. It was my first winter home after transplant. The first big snow we had thrilled me. I put on my snowpants and boots and took Ringo for a walk about 0600 that morning. I felt ike making snow angels in the middle of the road. I was happy and excited. I had the attitude of a child at that moment. I was carefree and in love with nature. I wish I could regain that attitude about snow and other things. You see, that winter of 2015 I was celebrating just being alive. Every moment was special and thrilling for me. I took time to appreciate the little things because I was grateful to be alive.. How quickly my carefree attitude can change back to depression, a sense of obligation, boredom, etc. I long for that happy attitude again and I'm determined I will find it again. I am the only one who can change my attitude. I need a sense of gratefulness and appreciation.

I watched a video about several people impacted by poverty. I admit I cried through the entire movie. The movie depicted real life indivduals who were striving to better themselves, but because of varying circumstances, they remained at poverty level. Each of them were hard workers who often worked double-shifts just to pay the rent and put food on the table. This movie brought an awareness to the poverty so many experience here in America. We are quick to judge those on public assistance, those who get food stamps, and those on Medicaid. But we do not know their stories. We can't judge based on our perceptions. Some of these women were single-parents; their husbands abandoned the family. All wanted a better life and all did everything they could to make that happen. It sure made me grateful for what I have and for a good man to be by my side.

7/10/18

Ringo goes in for surgery this morning. I am concerned about him. He's 11 years old and I hope I am doing the right thing and it doesn't make him age quicker. I love my dog so much.

I thought with Patrick gone for 5 nights that I would sleep really well. I have one night left to hope. Besides my excruciating hip pain, my neck has also been hurting badly for the past month. Between the two parts of my body, sleep eludes me due to the pain waking me up. I'm still hopeful the pain will stop eventually.

712/18

Ringo came through the surgery like a champ. They offered me anti-aniety meds to keep him calm, but I told them no need. That may have been a bad decision. He thinks nothing happened. He doesn't care he has a drain tube in and continues acting like nothing is wrong. The first night I brought his bed into my room so he could lie next to me. While I was arranging it right by my side of the bed, he jumped up on the bed. I about had a heart attack. Yesterday, I put the gate up at the top of the stairs and put a chair in front of it because there is no latch. I had to go downstairs for just a minute and the darn dog opened the gate and came to find me. He is not impressed with me for going outside with him and holding his leash while he does his business. He wants privacy and I can't give him any. The poor dog. Tomorrow he has a check-up and I hope the drain tube can come out. I have to put a clean t-shirt on him each day and tie it shut with a rubber band to keep him from licking his owie.

The CBD oil is not working. My C-1 in my neck keeps going out of place. My chiropractor suggested I get some external ointmet to put on my hips and neck. She said I needed to go to a marijuana store to get it. I was so embarrassed! I talked my mom into going in with me. I bought some Hemp cream and it seems to help. I was concerned people would think we were in there to by pot. Of course the store was really crowded and we got lots of looks. I wanted to hold a sign stating, "Not here for pot!" Now I found out I can order it online! Oh goodness, that was an experience! My mom is such a good sport.

I woke up feeling nauseous and extremely tired today. I hope I feel better as I don't like the lack of energy. It looks like it's going to be a fairly decent day. I can't do much because I feel like I need to stay close to Ringo. I need fresh air.....

7/13/18

Friday the 13th! I'm glad I am not a supersititious person. I don't believe in luck; good or bad. Things happen just because, not because of luck or lack thereof.

I mowed my yard yestereday. The sun came out and it was a beautiful afternoon and evening. My yard looks so pretty. I didn't hurt after I mowed either! I think the hemp cream I am using is working and I'm so excited about that. I was, however, very tired after mowing and I fell asleep in a lounge chair on the deck. I woke up with the sun beating down on me and I was sweating profusely. Not glowing. Sweating.... Today I must water all my flowers since I skipped yesterday. I love how flowers brighten up a yard and house. I would love it if my husband surprised me with a boquet of fresh flowers sometime. Nothing expensive- no delivered boquet. Just a simple bundle of fresh flowers.  They could even be wildflowers! Perhaps I will just surprise myself with a bouquet.Cool

This morning I made chocolate chip cookies and banana blueberry bread. Yesterday I made rhubarb blueberry muffins.  We have lots of company next week. I will be feeding about 5-12 people per day. I have my menu made and I have purchased almost all the food in preperation. I even sent almost all of it with Patrick and he will transport it to the cabin. Hopefully, it will be a great week.

I watched a news reporter today giving a review on the documentary of Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers may be one of the few in the world who is known for just being nice, compassionate, and honest without any bad allegations spoken against him. Mr. Rogers wanted to be a "good neighbor"" to all, especially children. Being a good neighbor involves caring, compassion, understanding, time, love, and concern.  We should all strive to be good neighbors. I believe Mr. Roger's idea of a neighbor is not just the one who lives next door to us. It could also be another student in our chlasses, a member of the church, etc. I truly don't believe he was just talking about phsyical neighbors. But what about the people who live next door? I don't know about you, but I don't know many people in my neighborhood and we have lived here for 27 years!  That's truly a shame. I have a feeling I am missing out on knowing some really nice people. I find that people are so busy and private nowadays that it's really hard to get to know them. I would like to be a good neighbor. Maybe I should go door to door and meet some people. What a shame to live so close to someone and not een know their name. Yes, I want to be a good neighbor. How about you?

7/14/18

One of our dearest friends found out yesterday that his brother killed himself the night before. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to help. My first thought was "oh no, he didn't know Jesus before he died." My heart is broken for our friend as well as for his brother who felt no hope. I don't ever want to know someone and not give them the hope that Jesus can help you through anything. Please pray for my friend.

7/16/18

I am in my happy place.  My happy place is busy this week with lots of company. I have been cooking up a storm and doing a whole lot of dishes. Thankfully the weather has been nice so I have gotten in a couple of walks too. I drove down on Saturday. I drove non-stop to Soldotna from Wasilla. I got out at Fred Meyer and could barely walk. I was so bummed because I thought maybe the Hemp cream was going to fix me up.  But what do i do? I invited my friend Gretchen over to walk with me.  By the time I went to bed, I knew I was in trouble. I was in severe pain all night long.  Yesterday I went for two walks. Patrick told me not to, but I didn't listen. I have decided he's smarter than he looks. Okay, no offense meant.... He always says that about me so i'm getting even! Today I walked down to visit with our elderly neighbors, Christine and Harold.. They are such lovely people. Christine has had some heart issues and has a touch of dementia. Harold is going blind from glaucoma. They are in their 80's and amazing people. Patrick helps Harold out a lot and always enjoys their time together.

Tomorrow my best friend from Indiana, Darlene, is coming to visit with her husband Kevin. I can hardly wait!  I'm so thankful we have a cabin to share with others.

I've been doing a lot of reading about poverty and homelessness and it breaks my heart that so many don't have homes, food, or clothing.  I think we take too much for granted. Religious freedom, political freedom, etc... It's time we appreciate what we have.

7/19/18

We have had a cabin full of friends. While I'm thrilled to visit with everyone, I am exhausted! I have not had a good night's sleep yet. Perhaps tonight will be the night.  I have been doing a lot of cooking. Last night I made a huge lasagna and fed 8 hungry individuals. This morning I made a large breafast casserole that also fed 8.  Tonight is leftovers! I have lasanga, spinach and shrimp quiche, chili, and scalloped potatoes. Now while I realize that it's a strange combination, each dish was delicious. Tonight will simply be a buffet of delectable dishes.

Darlene and I went to Homer and visited the shops while the men halibut fished. Kevin got a 130# fish!It was his first time halibut fishing and he's definitely hooked. (pun intended) I hated saying goodbye to them today. Two days is not enough time, but I sure enjoyed it.  Kevin teaches bible studies at his church. He asked me today to write an inspirational page in his prayer journal so he can share on his next lesson on inspiration. He said when he thinks of inspiration, he thinks of me because he thinks I inspire people. I had tears in my eyes listening to him describe my positivity and courage. I don't think of myself as being special or different than any other person. i was truly touched by what he said and honored he asked me to be part of his lesson. I simply use my experiences to help others. There is nothing unique or special about me. I am just happy to help.

7/20/18

My niece Michelle has really gotten back into painting after her stroke. She’s still in the healing process and art is most certainly great therapy for her. Her specialities are pieces she creates from aquatic inspirations. People across the nation commission her to create specific pieces they hang by their aquariums . These pictures gkow with a black light . She had been invited to showcase her pieces in Chicago next month! I find it interesting how God has allowed her to turn her terrible health experience into emotional healing while she inspires and blesses others with her beautiful creations . God gave her a talent and I’m so happy she’s utilizing it.

There’s so much sadness and ugliness in the world. People like Michelle brighten the world up a bit.

7/21/18

Flowers brighten moods, rooms, gardens, and spirits.  I love flowers. The sheer beauty of them can put a smile right on my face. i love to walk outside and see new life beginning to bloom.  The perennial plants that continue to blossom and grow each year remind me that life does go on and it can continue to be beautiful.  Sometimes the plants had a hard winter.  There may have been extremely low temperatures, freezing rain, strong winds, and lots of snow, but the hardly plants still survive.  Just like a plant survives, so can we.  We may go through terrible storms and feel like everything is going to be swept away by the winds (our troubles) or dumped on by a bunch of snow (huge mound of problems), but eventually, with enough water (praying) and fertilizer (studying the Bible) we can grow bigger and stronger than ever.  We can flourish each year if we water and feed ourselves.  Like a plant that withers and dies when it is deprived of water and nutrients, we will also wither and die.  Have you ever met someone whose face is scrunched up like a prune and they are always unhappy?  They haven't been watered recently. Try watering them a bit. (prayiing for them) and then give them some nutrients by sharing the love of Jesus with them.

My brother and sister-in-law own a commercial greenhouse.  They have amazing plants and vegetables and people truly enjoy their plants.  Mark and Sharmin are two very generous people.  They gave me several beautiful plants this year- they refused to take my money.  Sharmin insisted I bring some flowers to the cabin. I took a hanging basket and a big pot that I planted several of her annuals in.  Our company and I enjoyed the flowers all week. They sat proudly on the deck soaking up the beautiful sunshine we have been blessed with all week.  We leave tomorrow and I knew the plants would likely die if no one is here to water them. I didn't want to transport them back to Wasilla.  I knew all along what I would do at the end of the week. I took them over to our elderly neighbor's house.  Christtine and Harold are in their eighties.  They have no landscaping at all and no flowers. Patrick loaded them up in my car and I drove over there today and sat them on their porch.  Christine cried tears of joy.  She appreciated the beauty of these flowers. She said the hanging basket was the prettiest one she had ever seen. Today she was blessed because of my sister-in-law and brother's generosity.  They also donated beautiful flowers to a friend of mine who has no money. She struggles to make ends meet but her heart desired to have her FIRST flower bed ever. She never had the money for one. I offered to pay for the flowers, but Sharmin insisted on giving them to my friend for free. They have a desire for everyone to enjoy the beauty they grow.  God has blessed them and they bless others.

7/23/18

This morning it was 0230 when my mind woke me up. It was racing and disturbed. I was told something yesterday afternoon that upset me greatly.  I had been doing so well with letting go and letting God handle my problems.  I felt freer the past six weeks than I have in years. Years! All that came to a screeching halt last night. I laid there for a few moments, then I knew what I was supposed to do.  I got out of bed and went to my office to pray.  I prayed and read the Bible. I looked up some verses I was recommended to read about faith and trust in God. I felt better- I felt encouraged. I realized I haven't spent nearly enough time reading my Bible and praying.  I pray all day long, but it wasn't enough. My heart sometimes isn't into it because it hurts my mind so much.  I turned on my computer and it wouldn't take my password. I know my password and I could see I put it incorrectly. I kept hitting lost password and the computer kept going back to the same place. I finally used my phone to reset the password to my computer. It worked and I was in.  But let me add something.... I put my hands on my computer and prayed for it to work. I have very important documents on this computer that I desperately needed today. I told God that I know he cares about every little thing in our lives and he will start my computer. I have a faith like a mustard seed. God answered my prayers.  After I retrieved the important document, I opened my email so I could do my weekly study Joyce Meyer sends each Monday. I am encouraged again.

When Patrick's alarm went off at 0500, I crawled back into bed. I knew I needed more sleep. I laid there with my mind racing again. I practiced relaxation techniques and made my body relax. Before I knew it, I was asleep. I promptly woke up at 0710 dreaming I was being chased by a black bear and a brown bear. My husband, my knight in shining armor, scared away the black bear and knocked out all the teeth from the grizzly bear and he blinded him. The grizzly was curled up in a rocker next to the girls' teddy bear.....Perhaps I will try and just sleep all night tonight.

It's going to be a good day.

7/26/18

This week has been a difficult one. I haven't had much sleep and my emotions have run high. Drugs captured another person I care about; the teenage child of a friend. I spent some time with the teen advocating for treatment.  This family had a limited knowledge of the resources and options available and asked me to intervene. I was happy to do so, but I am weary. I am weary over all the lives that are being affected by these damn drugs. I HATE DRUGS! This world seems to suck right now. There are creatures of Satan prowling around our famlies just waiting to capture another for his kingdom. I REFUSE to release them into his custody. This battle belongs to the Lord and I am going to stand at the frontlines and fight. I will fight to my death for these children who are being dragged into Hell. I will fight for them. And with God as my leader, this army filled with people who care and stand beside me in battle,will conquer Satan.

"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having a salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a coal, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my convenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pitReturn to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you." Zechariah 9:9-12.

Be encouraged; the battle belongs to the Lord and he will conquer all. We are not of this world. We belong to Jesus. We are here temporarily.  Make sure you stay on the right side of the battlefield.  In the end, Satan will be defeated and if you are fighting for the wrong army, you will perish. There will be no  more salvation opportunities.

I'm thankful for so much today. I am thankful that I have a family who loves me. I have my parents, my grandma, my brother and his family, cousins, my children, and my grandchildren. I love them all and I am grateful for each of them. They are all unique and special and I wouldn't trade a single one of them.

Meghan, Olivienne, Ailynn, and Boe will be arriving tonight. This time tomorrow my house will be filled with the joyous noise of little children. The pitter patter of running feet and their little voices yelling, "Grammie! Papa!" Oh, it's going to be wonderful. We have them for 3.5 weeks.Heart

7/28/18

Its been chaotic and wonderful at my house since the girls arrived. Meghan had a bachelorette party in Talkeetna tonight, so we have the girls. Patrick got Boe to sleep! My father is an amazing dad and he’s an incredible grandfather. I married an amazing man who was a great dad and now and an awesome grandfather. I love my family so much.

7/31/18

Fall is just around the corner and as usual, I feel I haven't done enough this summer I absolutely love Alaska. It is beyond beautiful, slower-paced than many states, and the summers are so reasonably tempered- not too hot. The winters are beautiful, so beautiful! But.... they are so long and cold. I'm getting to the point I would love to be a snowbird and move somewhere warm in the winter. That will not happen anytime soon so I will tell myself, "Suck it up, Marre and wear some warm clothes." Right now I will continue enjoying the last bit of summer. Papa filled the swimming pool up with warm water yesterday for the girls. They loved it. Even baby Boe had a blast.

Yesterday a group of us went to the Garden of Reflection to do some weeding. It looks pretty there. The flowers MidValley Greenhouse donated are beautiful. I still want to find a sign to post there which displays their names as the contributors of the flowers. I also want to get them a plaque to hang in the greenhouse. Each year they donate all the annuals. I love how generous they are with our community.

I've been reading a lot recently and most of it has to do with being appreciative and compassionate regarding other cultures.  Cultural humility is a new term I learned about. It means that you don't presume to know everything about a different culture. You ask questions and have an open mind when learning about their culture. Each culture is very unique and it's not our place to make people fit into one box.  I read this book about a lady who spent ten years in the CIA. They allowed her to share her story as long as she didn't disclose specific places she was at.  It was an incredible book about her time in the middle eastern countries.  She is a Christian and I loved reading about how she accepted the customs of each culture she was in.  After the CIA, she and her husband (who was also in the CIA) began working as national security consultants and helped people escape (as a refugee) from a country where they were being persecuted for being Christians.  The timing of me reading this was interesting as the immigration problems have been headlines for a while. It's interesting to hear another perspective; one from a lady who has lived and breathed it professionally for so long.

I read some more about the Alaska Native culture. It's a culture I have always been fascinated with. I love hearing stories from natives about their lifestyle. When I worked at the prison, I found the older men were hesitant to talk to me until I asked them about their lives in the village. Then their faces lit up as they shared their stories.

Everyone has a story whether they are Indian, AK Native, Chinese, Hawaiian, white, etc. I realize the importance of listening to everyone's story. Sometimes it is the same story I may have heard over and over, (like from my Granny) or a story from someone who recently lost a loved one. I am working on patience and am getting better at listening to the same stories. That story is important to that person. I want to be that compassionate person who listens. Just listens.. Sunday brought a great sermon for me. It was about taming my tongue and not trying to take control or criticizing. It was about being humble and not presuming to know everything. We are to be humble and to focus more on others than we do ourselves.  It was a good reminder that "I" don't need the credit for things. God has blessed me in areas and he is due all credit.  This isn't about me; it's about HIM!

My heart is heavy today as I think about two wonderful ladies who are ill. Donna is my mom's best friend in Indiana. Donna is like a second mother to me. Mom and I went to Indiana to see her the last couple years when I had my Mayo check-up, but we didn't make it this year.  Donna has a failing heart. There isn't much they can do as she is 80.  I would really like to go see her, but Meghan and the girls are here for three weeks and at the end of August, I have my online classes. The timing just isn't good.

The second is a friend whose daughter has some mental health concerns and has been using drugs. My friend has so much stress in her life and suffered some heart problems of her own. I feel like I need to do something to help her, but I'm not sure what. Physically, I am not strong. My pain continues to increase and the nights are horrible. I feel like I am not good to many. Ollie imitated me yesterday. She got up and said, "Oh, I've been sitting too long and can hardly walk." Yeah, that's me...... it's always good to have my cane next to me because sometimes it's pitiful. Patrick said, "Oh look, there's Grammie waddling like a duck!" I'm not taking offense; it's all true sadly. I wish I could find something to help so I can physically help others more. I have to figure out some other way to help.

May God have all the glory in all things I do. I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.

8/1/18

I took the girls and Ringo on a little walk yesterday. Boe was in the stroller and the girls walked without complaining. Ollie does really well with Ringo- she is a master at dog walking. He doesn't pull her like he does me.  Of course, Ailynn wanted to walk him. He pulled her and she fell down on the gravel. She cried and said, "that was very, very, very not nice!" Then she said to Ollie, "Maybe you should walk him." I felt bad for her, but it was really hard not to laugh at her reaction. Last night Patrick and I took them to the school playground. Ailynn wouldn't let me help her do anything. She kept yelling at me, " I need Papa, not YOU!" I know it's because she doesn't have faith in my ability to protect her. I don't blame her as I know they see me struggle just to walk sometimes. I actually decided to show her I could do something so I climbed up on some bars. When she saw me she said, "Grammie, that's not safe for you! I'm coming to get you on the other side."

Earlier Ollie went to check on Ailynn in the house. Ailynn got mad at us and decided we were not being nice to her. Ollie was convinced she went in to get candy. Ollie came out and said, "Ailynn said she didn't get into the mints, but she wasn't looking me straight in the eyes, so I'm pretty sure she's lying."Cool Never a dull moment.

My blood sugar kept dropping last night and my pump kept telling me it was lower than it actually was. I didn't sleep much at all and have been up since 0330. I have a feeling Ailynn and I will be taking a nap together this afternoon. Add the fact that I have a sore throat as well on that. It will be a struggle to get through my day with a positive attidue.

Yesterday I got a FB message that touched my heart. A lady I've never met read my book and told me what an inspiration I am to her. She said that she's recommending my book to others in need of a touch of hope on their dark days. Wow! I am blown away. It makes me rememeber I have an obligation to have a positive attitude and a loving heart.

8/3/18

Boe had a fever yesterday and a runny nose. Today her eyes are matted shut. Yesterday Ailynn had an earache. Patrick has a cough, Meghan and I have sore throats. I started running a fever yesterday but that, and the body aches are currently gone. We have a wedding in Girdwood tonight so hopefully, we are all better and it's not raining.

Two people reached out to me asking for advice yesterday. They both have sons who are drug addicts. I absolutely despise drugs and the damage they do to families. Tuesday is our annual summit- this one we are calling Prevention Summit. The Surgeon General of the United States will be present. We must prevent our children from even trying drugs. Our nations and our families are being destroyed by drugs.

8:4/18

We had a wedding to go to in Girdwood yesterday and had a fine time visiting with friends. We drove to the cabin afterward. We have three sick children here. Now Ollie is in the worst shape with an earache and apparently body aches. Poor baby girls. Before she got too bad we went down the road to go berry picking. Meghan got so many more blueberries than me. My first reaction was to beat myself up for not seeing or gathering as much- typical reaction for me. I have always struggled with not feeling worthy or deserving of things. But then I thought about it and realized I’m grateful Meghan got so many and I’m proud of her and the few I got simply added to the pile we have for blueberry waffles tomorrow. I want to have that attitude all the time. An attitude of applauding others for their success, and not an attitude of disappointment because I didn’t meet my own expectations. It’s  not about me— it’s about the betterment of those who surround me. When we work together we can accomplish great things. Teamwork is always the best.

I showed Ailynn how to properly wash her hands. She didn’t like my demonstration and told me she will not be doing that next time. Well then.....

8/10/18

It is 0345 and sleep seems like it has passed me by tonight. Patrick has snored so badly tonight and he is making ridiculous moaning sounds. We are at the cabin. I tried sleeping on the couch, but the snores ring loudly through the door, despite me listening to music with headphones. I finally moved out to our old camper far from the house. I walked outside in the dark while praying there was no bear or moose in the driveway. Ringo kept growling, which didn’t boost my courage. I’m locked safely in here and hope to sleep a few hours. The next two days are going to be very busy for me. I have two more essays to write. I am attempting to test out of a class this fall and must write four essays of a minimum of three pages each on topics that are preassigned. I pray I pass as it would save me an entire semester of work and over $1,000. But doing this takes time away from Meg and the grandbabies which have been hard. I hope they feel when I am with them that I am offering them quality time. It’s crazy busy I have been. Gary is up here visiting and my friend Faith arrives Monday. There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what I have on my agenda.

Prevention Summit 2018

 

            “Hope is in the air”, Michael Carson frequently says, and that was evident at this year’s prevention summit.  Exhaustion and despair over the opioid crisis regularly attempt to destroy that hope.  People vocalize their disappointment and discouragement about addiction over social media and frequent arguments ensue, dividing friends, families, and communities.  But on Tuesday, we heard about the progress we have made since the first summit two years ago, and we grasp on to hope again.  In the last two years, Project Hope has been founded.  Project Hope has distributed over 10,000 Naloxone Rescue Kits to our communities. Naloxone (Narcan) has saved the lives of many individuals and offers hope for a second chance- a second opportunity to conquer addiction.  Perhaps the one who was saved will share their experience with another person who is addicted and save their life.  Each person has a story which deserves to be shared. It was refreshing to hear when someone presents to the emergency department Mat-Su Regional Medical Center (MSRMC) after an overdose or for a drug related problem, that there are peer support services readily in place to meet the addict where he is. The peer support team works with the hospital social workers to get the addict into a treatment bed, which is now more accessible for those who need one.

            Dr. Jerome Adams, the United States Surgeon General, shared that four out of five individuals who are addicted, started with prescribed opiates.  MSRMC has reduced the number of opioid prescriptions by 61% since the first summit.  Doctors are earnestly working together to do their part in combatting the opioid addiction. Dr. Adams reminded us that the first drug dealer is often the neighbor, grandparents, parents, aunts or uncles. Dr. Jay Butler, the Chief Medical Officer and head of Alaska’s Health & Human Services reminded us that Project Hope provides environmentally safe disposable bags to our communities, so we may properly dispose of unused narcotics to avoid them being accessible to our youth. 

Dr. Adams went on to say that the opioid crisis has caused a feeling of a loss of community.  He encouraged us to support and encourage one another, to share love and compassion, and to offer forgiveness. He used a wonderful example of an Alaskan community that participates in whaling.  He shared how it's not just one person who goes out to find a whale; harpooning it, bringing it to shore, and eating it by himself.  Rather, the villagers utilize their entire community by working together to bring the whale into their village. They reap the benefits by celebrating together.  Dr. Adams encouraged us to remember that it takes an entire community working together to combat the drug problems we are experiencing here in Alaska.  He said, “The opioid epidemic is an opportunity, not just a tragedy.  We can treat it as a fire to be put out, but if we don’t take advantage of the opportunity to move upstream and work on prevention, it will get worse.  We must build healthy communities.”

In the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) school district we have seen the impact of parental drug use in children, and programs are in place to assist these innocent children. Elizabeth Ripley, Chief Executive Officer for Mat-Su Health Foundation, discussed the exciting progress our community has made in assisting these children.  There are fifteen trauma informed schools with another fifteen being trained this year.  Educators are trained to recognize when a student’s learning is compromised due to the stress of parental substance abuse or other abuse in the home.  There are efforts to build critical supports for families. Rock Mat-Su, Head Start, Safe Families, and Beacon Hill are just some of these supports.

Ms. Ripley encouraged faith-based communities, employers, educators, and law-enforcement officers to work together to combat this epidemic. Experts are striving to offer more education and services to parents and children. She offered the suggestion of being creative to come up with solutions for support. One idea was to match a lonely senior citizen up with a youth in need of support. She said, “Many people feel disconnected from others.  People of all professions feel lonely and removed from relationships.  We need to reconnect.” She reminded the audience that it is important how we frame our language when speaking about addiction.  We must treat each addict as valuable and important, not as a detriment to society. 

Dr. Butler shared information about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how early trauma correlates to later issues, including addiction. Adverse Childhood Experiences can affect children well into adulthood.  Children who have been exposed to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, witnessed domestic violence, lived with someone who had a mental illness or abused substances, had parents who separated or divorced, or lived with someone who went to jail or prison, have an increased risk of adverse childhood experiences.  The State of Alaska has studied ACEs intensely.  The Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug abuse Alaska Mental Health Board (ABADA) compiled data about ACEs.  ABADA presented the document Adverse Childhood Experiences Overcoming ACEs in Alaska (2015) to all Alaskans.

            Dr. Butler assured us there are ways to mitigate the impacts of ACEs by investing in our children.  He stated, “We must develop our children as they are the future of our state.”  He emphasized the need for quality time between parents and children, the need for increased behavioral health services in our school systems, the access to after school activities for our youth, and help with transportation and funding for students to attend these activities. If we invest in our youth at an early age, the financial impact of addiction will lessen in the future as fewer will become addicted to illicit substances and there will be a decrease in incarceration rates. We must look at what is most important of all: How to prevent ACEs and build resiliency in those who have experienced them.  We must remember that it is not the child’s fault for being raised in a home that was abusive or dysfunctional.  Children are all different and some who have experienced substantial trauma may never exhibit adverse behaviors, while others may be unable to function in their communities. Parenting classes are a good way to introduce healthy parenting techniques.  If we provide support for parents, they will be less likely to engage in harmful practices.  Having good health care and experts readily available is necessary for preventing and healing from adverse childhood experiences. Experiencing ACEs is challenging for both children and adults, but if a multi-disciplinary practice is used, we can help the affected break free from generational bondage and help them recover and thrive. 

            John Shinholser, president of McShin Foundation emphasized the need to teach our children not to make fun of older people, people with handicaps, someone of a different race, or someone who is addicted.  He further stated, “We need to rethink how we are educating our children about addiction.”  Shinholser reported his addiction started with cigarettes at the age of five and he got drunk for the first time in the sixth grade.  He now has 36 years of recovery and runs a large recovery center in Virginia.

            For those in the recovery community, the Re-Entry Coalition, led by Janice Weiss, is a welcome program for offenders reentering into society. Case management, assistance with jobs, housing, and resource referrals are offered to former inmates.  Weiss reminds recovering addicts to be compassionate with themselves and practice resiliency.  She said, “A resilient person is flexible when things change. It comes down to feeling in control versus out of control.  We can control how we act and feel and should spend energy on what we can change.”  She gave a wonderful example of how the Norway criminal justice system interacts with prisoners by engaging and encouraging them through mentorship.

            Wendi Shackelford, a well-known mental health trainer in Alaska, believes all people are valuable and deserve the right to share their story. She understands that most people experience a crisis at some point in their lives.  She reminds us we can work through stressful situations by following these thoughts:

  • Remain realistic
  • Maintain hope
  • Think flexibly and accurately
  • Take another’s perspective
  • Hunt for three good things to focus on
  • Listen to understand
  • Be willing to try new strategies
  • Have strong relationships
  • Support others
  • Identify and understand problems
  • Have faith in your strengths, talents, and abilities and use them to overcome your adversity

There was an abundance of information presented at this summit. The two most important pieces I heard was: we need to open our hearts and minds in order to work with those who struggle with addiction, and we need to intervene on behalf of the children who are experiencing trauma.  Those who experience trauma might feel a loss of community, a sense of shame and guilt, feelings of vulnerability, being unworthy, and a sense of failing to belong. 

Judgment and condemnation have no place in our minds, conversations, social media, homes, communities, states, and nation.  Addiction is a mental illness and is recognized as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5). We spend too much time arguing about whether or not it is a disease or a choice, and we forget that the people we are arguing about are in crisis.  It is time to put aside our biases and reframe our thinking.  Let us look through the lens of compassion and see the vulnerable person hidden behind the mask of addiction.  Let us understand that each person matters.  Each person is loved by someone; a mother, father, grandparent, sibling, or friend. Let us not hinder help by offering condemnation, but instead, let us be a community advocate and offer a hand up.  We must invest in our communities by working together to protect our children.  Get to know your neighbor, volunteer in your community, and reframe how you view those in need.  Never forget that addiction can take hold of anyone, as it knows no boundaries.  If we want healthy communities, we must stop bickering and blaming and begin to work together to implement change.

 

I wrote this while thinking about a family whose adult son has gone off the edge again and they have no idea where he is, celebrating with the friends whose son has recovered from drugs and is releaesd from prison- doing well and getting married, and after talking with a trooper friend who is exhausted from dealing with the same people and the same problems every week.  Hope is STILL in the air.

8/14/18

I feel so stressed and out of control. I am so busy and I can't figure out what I'm supposed to be doing. We have two friends visiting from out of state, plus Meghan and the girls are here. I have written four long essays in the past few days in hope of "testing out" of a class this fall. The papers have consumed me for days; I never left the computer the entire time we were at the cabin. That is except for the moments I cooked for the three guys. Breakfast, packed lunches, and a large dinner each night. I don't think I do well with chaos. I like everything organized and flowing well. I feel guilty that my school work takes me away from the people I love and I often feel inadquate on all fronts. I used to think I was good at multi-tasking. I don't believe that anymore.

Last night my dang insulin pump woke me up every few minutes for hours. It kept notifying me my blood sugar was at critical lows. It was not. The dang sensor is completely off. Then my left hip left me in agony. So much for CBD oil......

None of that will affect me today. It's Olivienne's 5th birthday and I'm going to put all my worries aside and focus on her and my other two granddaughters. i wasn't sure I'd live to see Ollie's fifth birthday OR share in the lives of the other two. I will celebrate today.

Michelle is now a licensed RN! She passed her large exam AFTER she had a stroke at the age of 27. I am so stinking proud of her. What an overcomer she is!!!!!!

8/16/18

We had a very enjoyable time together celebrating Ollie's birthday. She felt like the "Princess of the day" for sure. She was kind enough to allow Ailynn to open a couple of her gifts which was considerate. We got her a purple bicycle which is a bit too big. She crashed it and was very upset. However, she got back on it yesterday and did better. She's been riding without training wheels for the past several months.

Gary left last night. Dad insisted on taking him to the airport for me. Patrick is out of town on a "business fishing trip", and everyone knows how tired I get. I will readily admit that my initial reluctance was quickly replaced to relief when Dad pulled in at 10:50 p.m. and i could go to bed. I am simply exhausted. My insulin pump wakes me up at night which causes me to get way too much-interruped sleep. 

Faith will be staying here tonight and Kirk also arrives tonight. After Monday, my house will seem very quiet. It's been a crazy, crazy busy summer. Come this fall, I see a lot of isolation in my future. I must isolate in order to do my classes well.

I was invited to attend a conference in Washington D.C. in September by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. It's an exciting opportunity and i'm thrilled about it. I love making a differene for both indidviduals and on a larger level.

Gary and I helped with the free backpack and school supply giveway yesterday for children whose parents who can't afford the cost. it's an incredible event United Way puts on each year and I've been helping for a few years now. I love being part of all events UW does. They are certainly a community-minded organization and i miss being on the Board of Directors.

8/18/18

What a cool date. I know three couples who got married today and I attended two of the three ceremonies. It struck me how much each of these couples is in love. They laugh together, go on adventures, value family, and are each other’s best friend. I thought about all the divorced and unhappy couples and wonder how they forgot that wonderful and loving feeling the day of their new life together. When did it go wrong and did either do something to stop it? How do we get people to recognize when they need to communicate better with their spouses? I truly believe it’s their community that makes a difference. I don’t mean the town they live in, but the community of people they surround themselves with. It’s so important that married couples socialize with other healthy and happy married couples. They need to support and encourage each other. I pray many blessings upon the three couples I know who got married today. May they never know a day without Jesus or the love of their spouse.

Last night I was the cool Grammie and took Ollie and Ailynn to see Hotel Transylvania. I loaded them up in popcorn and a giant Slurpee. I then had them all night by myself. They did great! Ailynn slept with me, but she was afraid her momma would get mad. She said, “My mommy will spank my butt and make me go to my own bed!” She loves sleeping with me, but her mom doesn't like to “undo” the routines we start with the kids. I told her mommy wasn’t here and it was okay!  Tonight I took Boe home with me for a few hours after the wedding. I’m going to miss them so much. They leave very early Monday morning.😰

8/19/18

My heart has been ripped out of my chest. The pain is so intense. My babies left this morning at 0300. I thought I was prepared. I read a couple chapters of Raggedy Ann and Andy last night. I put Ailynn in bed with me and we cuddled for a few hours as I soaked up the love she has for me. When I kissed Boe goodbye and she just gave me that beautiful grin of hers, my heart hurt. Last night Ollie kept telling me she didn’t want to leave us. I hugged my sweet daughter goodbye a couple times. She is wise beyond her years and I love her. Kirk gave me a fierce hug and I prayed for the safety of protection as he works his dangerous job. I feel like I did when Dr. Mulvey called and told me I relapsed. My mind immediately went back to that awful evening when nothing seemed right with the world. I’ve been so busy writing papers and feel I didn’t get enough time to just sit and love on my babies.

8/23/18

I had a couple days at the cabin to regroup. Debbie and I took our third annual girls trip to the cabin. Debbie is a shopper and she loves to go into all the quaint little stores. It was good to take my mind off missing the girls and my school work. I needed the break, but I have to admit it took me till the last day to let go of "most" of the anxiety I am feeling. I did pass my equivalency exam, so I have one less class to take this fall. I could have tried to pass another one, but my heart was not in it. If the girls weren't here I would not have hesitated to spend another 60 hours writing papers. I just couldn't do it. Sometimes we have to admit we must take time for ourselves. It's okay to be compassionate and understanding with ourselves and not feel like we must be the best at everything. (this is a little self pep-talk!)

Meghan said she is going to enroll Olivienne in kindergarten and I am not there to see her attend her first day of school.Broken heart  I hope Meghan can FaceTime me on the 29th so I can see Ollie's beautiful face that I am sure will be filled with apprehension. It will be good for her though. She needs the break. Poor Ailynn isn't going to know what to do without her sister though. At least she has another one at home to play with.

Patrick is in Colorado visiting friends and family. I'm happy he has the opportunity to do so. He was in Salt Lake City for work and it made sense to fly into Colorado since he was that close. He has remained very close to the people he grew up with. I would have joined him, but I have an intensive seminar for school that is tomorrow and Saturday.

Mom and I are going to the fair today. I sure hope it doesn't pour down rain. I'm really not that interested in the fair to stand in the rain. MIchelle has a display of her artwork so we would really like to see it. She just got back from an art show in Chicago.

I got a call last night about a lady who is on drugs and her family is very worried about her. It just never ends. I wish I had the magic cure of how to end the drug crisis in Alaska.(and the world) I wish someone would come up with a pill that takes away all cravings. I know it sounds weird to subsitute one pill for another, but if there were something that took away all the cravings in a "one shot deal" it would save so many lives.

8/24/18

I've had a very long two days in Anchorage getting to know my future cohort in the SW program. If I was nervous before, it was nothing compared to how I am feeling now. But I think most everyone is feeling nervous. It's the unexpected, the unknown, and the fear that is getting to me. Am I smart enough? Am I good enough? Am I cut out for this? Do I have the energy? I'm afraid. I can't imagine quitting and letting myself and everyone down, but what if I fail? I want to enjoy my life. I want to enjoy each day. I don't want to overextend myself and therefore my quality of life is greatly diminished. I want to learn to live in the present. I can't go back and change the past, and only focusing on the future isn't helpful either. I must learn to enjoy each day and embrace every moment.

Last night I was exhausted. I woke up at 0130 with the "eye problem". My epithelial layer ripped off the cornea of my left eye. I have been dealing with this issue for years, but it's been a while since it was so bad. I put a warm cloth on the eye but it kept falling off. I turned on my left side so the washcloth was tucked on the pillow. Then my left hip started huriing terribly so I had to roll over. The washcloth kept falling off and I kept waking up and putting it back on because of the pain in my eye. Then just as I started to go to sleep, the alarm in my pump went off. My battery needed to be changed. I drifted off to sleep again and the darn cat started kneading in the bed right next to me. Over and over and over.. Wonderful night.....

My eye hurt the entire day and the tears streamed down my face all day long. I"m sure all the other students thought I was crying. It was a bit embarrassing.

Today I found out a lady I have spoken to on the phone, emailed, and messaged on FB lost her long battle with breast cancer. Delores was a fighter and a multi-time survivor of cancer. She recently attempted naturopathic treatment in Europe. Delores was writing a book about various cancer survivors who beat the odds. I was one of the featured subjects. I'm so sorry for her family. I will miss her sunny disposition. She had recently posted she was near the end. I'm always so sad to hear someone passed away, but happy to know she knew Jesus.

There are so many sad stories I could share, but I will leave you with this. I have hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and I use the past to help me succeed today and in the future. While I can't change the past, I can use those challenges and experiences to help me be a better person, a better friend, a better mother, a better daughter, and a better wife. God is good. All the time, God is good.

8/27/18

The sermon at church was wonderful yesterday as we were reminded of how important it is to offer grace to everyone we encounter. Mastering grace is something I long for and something I have "preached about" for quite a while. Grace is responding with kindness and compassion rather than anger. What I really liked most about what Pastor Daulton said was when he reminded us to self-examine our responses.  What are our intentions with our responses? Are we eager to be right? Superior? In charge? We spend so much time thinking about our answer when we are having a disagreement with someone that we forget to listen.  If we die to ourselves and focus on the other person more than ourselves, well then we would all get along, right?? Grace is necessary, helpful, and considerate and I want to offer more grace to others.

Yesterday afternoon I got to visit with a friend from out of state. Mike moved several years ago and it was so nice to see him and his daughter Maile. Mike is an amazing person full of love, compassion, caring, and kindness. Mike thrives on helping others and seems to have an abundance of energy.

Last night was a bad night for me; minimal sleep and maximum pain. I pray today goes better as this is my first day of fall classes.

8/28/18

When my confidence diminishes and I am afraid, I think of this:

With God, all things are possible. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. He knows my challenges and my fears. With him, I can have the confidence I can become the woman he created me to be.

God knows what he wants from me. He will give me the courage to proceed with his plans. He believes in me, and I must believe in myself.

8/29/18

Oh, the sweet and courageous words of yesterday. How quickly the feelings they invoke flee from me. I've had several bad nights in a row; lots of hip pain and little sleep. I am tired, I am discouraged, and it's only the first week. Pain sure takes a toll on the psyche. Please keep my stamina in your prayers. I am exhausted and I hurt. Thankfully the pain is mostly at night, but I am finding it difficult to walk again. Thumbs down I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

8/30/18

Last night was good; I didn't hurt and I slept. How refreshing that is. I got up at 0445 but haven't gotten much accomplished. I am so confused about a project I need to do. I've struck out this week on dinners. Last night I made greenbeans from my brother's greenhouse. I delayed starting the meal in the Instapot until they were almost done. Can you believe I forgot to serve the greenbeans?? The night before that I forgot about the broccoli, also from Mark's greenhouse, and overcooked it. Tonight Patrick is cooking. He's been doing the dishes too which I so appreciate. It is defnitely a challenge adding something to my schedule. I was hurting so bad last night and decided to soak in the bathtub to see if that would help. I fell asleep in the tub. I got out because I was really light headed and laid down sideways on the bed and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up,  I went back to reading my textbook.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with Dr. Spencer. I haven't seen her for a couple months. Hopefully all my bloodwork looks good.

8/31/18

The last day of August is here which means soon the snow will fall. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this, but ready or not, here it comes!

I've been awake since 0400 this morning and went to work reading my social workbook. I turned on the TV while I was getting ready. I was told that I need to know more about what is going on from a local, national, and worldview. The first thing I heard was about a man killing his wife. Then I heard about a woman killing two of her babies- years apart. Then I heard about a man groping a woman on the airplane. Do I really need to know this stuff? I suppose I do if I want to eventually work in the social work field.

The news was interrupted to bring Senator John McCain's funeral to the nation. I am ashamed to say I don't know many of the details of his life, but I do know he has honored our country by his military service (including his captivity) as well as serving by being a Congressman and Senator. He appeared to have been an honorable man and one who placed great value on America as a whole, and the American citizens as individuals.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, (and I am paraphrasing here) said that none of us can solve all the problems of the world, but we have to try to because the cause in front of us is important.  We must have the courage to stand up for what we believe in and fight for justice. Now I'm doing a terrible job paraphrasing. He said it so eloquently. The gist is we must stand up for social justice and denounce social injustice and we must fight for basic human rights. (sounding like a social worker yet?) We must take notice in what is happening around us and stop sticking our heads in the sand and pretend that everything around us is good and perfect. We ALL need to do this, not just social workers.

What I loved best about the funeral was seeing the casket holding Senator McCain in the United States Capitol Building and GOD was not only mentioned, but he was prayed to in front of millions of people watching. God is not dead, he is surely alive. Don't lose hope that our nation is lost. God is still alive and he is still permitted to be spoken to in public. In fact, I will not name the local place (for fear some radical will complain) but state proudly that a federal building plays K-Love the Christian radio station. I am in awe that it's allowed and I pray no one complains because we all need to hear about how Jesus saves us.