Archives for October 2019

8 tips to be be safe for Halloween

When I was a child, I knew that I could eat as much candy as I wanted on Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. It was great. My parents didn’t seem to be bothered by all the amount of sweets my brothers, sisters, and I could consume in one day.

Be Safe For Halloween

However, any other day of the year, they would not let us have as much. It didn’t make sense to me. But, of course, when I became a parent, I understood the need to monitor sweets, and I also became aware of the price of buying bags of candy for my children.

So we did pretty much the same thing. I would let them eat as much candy on the holidays, but the other days of the year, I was pretty strict. Candy and costumes are what children will be thinking about this Halloween as they prepare to venture out in the dark from house to house, spooking their neighbors and begging for candy.

Halloween celebrations date back over 2000 years, initially descending from the Celtic festival of “Samhain” – a harvest festival marking the death of the old “Samhain” to be the “Lord of Death” who allowed spirits to return to their former homes on earth, only in October.

Halloween traditions have evolved over the years, and today the only spirits returning home will be children toting the bounty of their own “trick-or-treat” harvest! They will not be thinking about safety or stomachs. That is where parents come in.

When we were small, it was safe to go out and “trick or treat.” Even when our children were little, it was reasonably safe, but today there are many dangerous threats for our children to be aware of.

Before sending your little goblins out, I found a few safety tips for you to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure costumes are flame retardant and light or bright in color. Dark costume should have strips of “glow in the dark” tape along the back.
  2. Use face paint instead of masks to prevent obstruction of both breathing and vision.
  3. Make sure your child carries a cell phone, in case they need to call, and a flashlight.
  4. Young children should be accompanied by an adult, and no child should go out alone.
  5. Trick or Treat only in familiar neighborhoods and set a time for when your children should return home.
  6. Children should never accept rides from strangers. That’s why it will be good for them to have a cell phone to call you if they need a ride.
  7. Explain to your children why it is important to wait until they get home to eat treats, so you can check them out.
  8. Check all treats for signs of tampering and discard all loose and homemade treats (unless you know the person who provided them).

Even if you don’t have little children at home Halloween night is a time to take precautions. Drivers should be EXTRA CAUTIOUS in residential areas! When the costumes are discarded and candy wrappers are all over the place, the only injury a parent wants to be taking care of is a stomach ache.

What are the things that really matter?

I ran across a good illustration this week that paints an excellent picture of how important it is to stop and think about what we do with the hours in our day. It was about a philosophy professor who wanted to teach his students a lesson that went beyond the classroom.

What Are The Things That Really Matterp NtxtWhen his students begin to noisily arrive for his class, the professor stood patiently at his desk with just a few items in front of him. After the bell rang and the young men and women settle down, he wordless picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top–rocks about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The students laughed as they watched the stones roll into the open areas between the rocks. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They agreed that yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar, and, of course, the sand filled up everything else.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things–your family, your partner, your health, and your children–anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would nearly be destroyed”.

“The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, or your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks.”

“The same goes for your life if you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important.”

I thought about that today when I realized I had not visited my friend and neighbor, who is in the hospital. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Take care of your health, play with your children, and take your partner dancing.

If you don’t take care of yourself, it affects those you love. If all you ever talk about with your husband or wife are the bills and what needs fixing, the spark between you will eventually fade away. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, host a dinner party, or fix the disposal.

Take care of the rock’s first – the things that really matter. The rest is just pebbles and sand.

My Sister is My Hero

My sister Juanell is my hero , I called her Nell. Her name was never in the newspaper and she was never on television. She didn’t finish school, because she was a wife and mother by age 16. When she was 26, her husband walked out on her after she gave birth to their seventh child. Frances was born with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome(LGS), a rare and severe type of epilepsy that starts in childhood.

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I was a child when Nell was an adult. I watched her go through many hard times. Some of those times she was angry because life was hard on her, but the one thing I never saw her do was give up.

After her husband left her, she struggled. Even with government assistance, it was difficult to raise her children. She made big pots of stew and bought lots of day-old bread. She was very strict on her children. She took care of them and helped them reach their goals in life as best as she could. They didn’t have a lot of extras in life, but they knew their mom loved them.

As Frances grew older the seizures grew worse and she was less able to walk, talk, and take care of herself. She had to wear a protective helmet to protect her head when she fell. Nell was encouraged to put her in a charitable home for handicap children, but she chose to keep her at home and send her to a special education school every day.

She never remarried. She felt like it took all of her to raise her children alone. Her middle son died when he was in his twenties and few years later her oldest son died of heart disease. It was almost unbearable for her, but she held her other children close, and let her heart heal one day at a time.

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The amazing thing I remember about my sister is how kind she was to others she thought was less fortunate than her. One day after she finished her grocery shopping she met an older woman sitting on a bench outside the grocery store. The woman had bags of groceries at her feet. Nell asked her if she needed any help and the woman told her she was waiting on the bus. My sister told me she didn’t look like she could climb up the steps to the bus, much less, carry her bags of groceries up those stairs with her. She asked her where she lived and discovered she lived in a neighborhood on the way to my sister’s house, so she offered to take her home.

After that initial meeting, she became this woman’s helper. When my sister went to the grocery store she would put her children in the car, which was always breaking down, and stop by to pick her up. Nell was never invited inside. When the woman didn’t feel like going to the store, my sister would stand at the door, and wait for her grocery list. She didn’t know if she had other family members to help her. She never asked.

When the woman died, she willed her small wood-framed house and old station wagon to my sister, because she had no other family. Nell was overwhelmed. As a single mom she had never owned anything.

Now she had a home. She cleaned it up, planted flowers, and made it beautiful. Her children lived in the same city, and stayed close to their mother and their handicapped sister, who still lived at home. Even though Frances could not talk, when I visited her Nell always brought my niece into the room to sit and chat with us.

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Nell’s medical terminology was as good as any nurse or doctor I had ever worked with, because she had to study everything she could get her hands on to help her daughter get better. However, LGS is a progressive condition, and children born with this syndrome usually do not live to reach their teens. But, with my sister’s persistent love and care she kept her daughter at home and alive until she died at age 50. My sister died a year later.

There are many different types of heroes in this life: the ones who protect us, who lead us, resolve problems, the risk takers who inspire courage and those who push their minds and body to amazing feats, and who teach us not to give up. My sister was one of those everyday heroes who inspired me. She was a survivor. She taught me endurance, courage, survival, grace, gratitude, and her strength will always live in the hearts of those she left behind.

It is never too early to talk to your children

The subject was drugs. My son was telling me he thought his children would receive good information about drugs in their schools, but it was still the parent’s responsibility to talk about it at home.

It Is Never Too Early To Talk To Your ChildrenI agreed with him, and reminded him that we did the same thing for him and his brother and sister. “I know, Mom,” he said carefully. “But you were too late”. Trying not to show how dumbfounded I was, I asked him what exactly he meant. “By the time you asked me about drugs, Mom, I had already tried them,” he said as gently as possible. “And your questions only made me feel more guilty.”

It was a moment of sadness. I wanted someone to tell me I had been a good parent. I didn’t want to hear that I had missed something or failed them in some way. My son was grown, living a good life with children of his own. I couldn’t recall a time when I thought he was trying drugs. However, I must have missed it. He said his friends had offered him drugs in the eighth grade and he had tried them. I remember his friends at that time and the uneasiness I felt about them hanging out with him. They were the only boys his age living close to us, and I didn’t want him to be without friends.

We were fortunate that our son did not choose to continue to use drugs, but I share this story to demonstrate the fact that parents need to talk to their children about drugs early, and they should pay attention to the kind of friends they have.

It is never too early to talk to your children about drugs, alcohol or nicotine. Sharing your views on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs at an early age can strongly influence how they think about them. Just as having a conversation about drugs a part of their general health and safety can be very effective.

Prevention starts with talking with, and listening to, your child about making good choices and good friends, as well as, teaching them different ways to say “No!” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children look to their parents for guidance on the big issues-morals and religious values, academic habits and career choices-and to their friends for information about fads and trends, such as hairstyles and fashion.

I told my son I was sorry that I had failed to see what was happening to him at that time in his life. “Mom,” he said, “Parenting is like a minefield. You know there are dangers out there and you want to protect your children, but sooner or later they will probably step on one. If they do, you just have to take it from there.”

When I watch our son with his own children and listen to his views on life today, I am assured that even though we may have missed a conversation we should have had, thankfully, it was our example that finalized his decision in life.

How Not to Order Mexican Food

My husband loves Mexican food. When we lived in south Texas, he worked very hard to learn Spanish. As a hospital chaplain and a nurse, we needed to know how to speak and understand Spanish to better communicate with our patients.

How Not To Order Mexican FoodOne afternoon, not long after we had completed our Spanish classes, he picked me up from work early. He said he wanted to go to Mexico for some Mexican food. We only lived about 20 miles north of Progreso, a Mexican border town.

I pointed out the fact that we had great Mexican restaurants right near where we lived. He agreed but insisted on going to Mexico. “This will give us a chance to practice our Spanish,” he said.

It was the middle of the week and the end of a long day, but I agreed. After we arrived, I suggested several excellent large restaurants, as we crossed the border. But he said he wanted to go to a small “mom and pop” restaurant where no one spoke English, and the food was authentic.

We walked through the entire town until he found a tiny little restaurant that had a large picture window where we could see there were only about six tables inside. “This is perfect”, he said.

We went inside, and he asked for a menu; “Un menu’ por favor.” The waiter shook his head and replied in Spanish, “Sin menu”. No menus.

It appeared that no one in the restaurant spoke English.I told him that we should probably go somewhere else. But he declined, saying this would be a perfect place to practice our new language.

The waiter recited the list of entrees in Spanish. I heard the word, Taco, and told the waiter that is what I would have. I suggested to my husband that he should order the Chalupa because we knew what that was.

But he said no. He wanted to hear the list again. Finally, he recognized something that sounded good. He stopped the waiter and said, that is what he would have.

After he placed his order, I warned my husband that he didn’t know what he was getting, but he said it sounded like great Mexican food. I noticed everyone else in the restaurant glancing at us and smiling. I thought they were being friendly and smiled back.

When our food arrived, I was glad to see my order- a couple of simple Tacos. However, when my husband’s food came, he was surprised, and I heard the people around us chuckle. In English, he told the waiter that he had made a mistake because he had ordered Mexican food.

The waiter patiently nodded and told him this is what he ordered. “Qué es esto?”, my husband asked. “Es hamburguesa y papas fritas”, replied the waiter.

Then the waiter replied in English, “Hamburgers and French fries!”

Breast Cancer Awareness

If you find a lump in your breast or underarm area, you should see your doctor right away.  The good news is that most lumps are noncancerous.  Sometimes they will go away on their own, which is why your doctor may schedule a return visit for three to six months.

However, sometimes the lump or change in breast tissue may be cancer.  It is very important that you go to your follow up visit.  If, at any time, you feel like you need a second opinion, you should probably get one. My friend, Jill, did and she is alive today 21 years later. My sister, Juanita, didn’t, and she died one year after the doctor said he wanted to watch it for six months.

Breast Cancer AwarenessJill Valencia was 30 years old when she felt a lump in her breast in 1990. She saw a physician’s assistant, who suggested waiting six months and coming back if it was still there. Jill wanted a mammogram but was told no because she was only 30.

She felt like something was wrong. “If I had listened to her, I would no longer be here,” my friend told me. “I insisted on a mammogram because of my family history, which was on my father’s side, so she sent me to a surgeon and with a request to have a mammogram per patient’s request.”

My sister, Nita, told the doctor that we had no history of cancer in our family. The doctor told her it didn’t feel like cancer, but he wanted to see her again in six months. She thought it was probably nothing, so she didn’t go back.

After my friend, Jill’s mammogram, the surgeon removed a malignant tumor and five cancerous lymph nodes, and because of her family history, the size of the tumor and the fact that it could not be aspirated, she had a mastectomy. A year later, her doctor at MD Anderson hospital in Houston, Texas, felt something deep in her armpit and performed a lymphadenectomy. Again all looked good. But the tests came back that two were malignant. Chemo was no longer an option, so she had a reconstruction.

My sister was a small strong, slender woman who was always active. She took care of her garden, worked with her husband around their house, sat with friends at the hospital, and played with her grandchildren. She had been a smoker for most of her 69 years of living.

The Saturday before my sister suddenly became ill, she was ice skating with her great-grandchildren, laughing and playing with them all day. On Sunday, she had a sharp pain in the right side of her chest and went to the doctor on Monday. She was treated her for pleurisy. When she went home, she began to vomit and then became utterly lethargic. On Wednesday, her daughter came to take her back to the hospital and was surprised that her mom was incoherent. She was afraid she was dehydrated and took her to the emergency room. Within 24 hours, an MRI showed a huge mass on her liver, The doctor said he believed it was cancer and probably metastatic, meaning it started in another part of her body. Later he confirmed the cancer began in her breast, spread to her lungs, and then into her liver and brain.
She regained conscious enough to see her family around her bed and was able to say she loved them, and then she died, without regaining consciousness, two weeks later.

As a nurse, if a patient told me that I should draw blood out of a specific place in her arm, I did so because that patient would know where the good veins were. We tell our children if something doesn’t feel right to ask for help. The same is true with our bodies. If we think something is wrong, we need to ask for help, follow doctor’s orders, and if things don’t feel right, get a second opinion.

A year after my sister died, I had a mammogram, and the doctor saw something. He thought it was probably benign and advise we wait, but I couldn’t do that. I had a family history of breast cancer. I wanted a biopsy. It was negative, but I am glad I had it done.

Jill had another mastectomy in 2012. That, too, was because something didn’t feel right. She went in for a mammogram. They saw something but wasn’t sure, so she had a stereotactic needle biopsy, which is often used when small growths or accumulations of calcium are detected on a mammogram, but don’t appear on an ultrasound and can’t be felt on a physical exam of the breast. It is less invasive than a surgical biopsy. She was told that everything was fine. But she was still in pain, asked for a biopsy, and another malignant tumor was found.

It broke my heart in so many ways when my sister died because she never told me about the doctor’s appointment or the mammogram. It is essential to understand that we are responsible for our health. I would have advised her to go back in six months, request a biopsy or get a second opinion.

My friend, Jill, is alive today and able to praise God for being a 3X cancer survivor because she was not afraid to ask for a second opinion.

Mothers stressing over their children

It was just a small, round gold loop placed in his left ear, like the one many of his friends wore, but it bothered me. Why? I am not sure. It was probably because it represented rebellion against what was the norm in our family; that is, girls wore earrings, and guys didn’t.

Mothers Stressing Over Their ChildrenIt could have been the vain concern that our friends might think our parenting skills were weak, or the fear that he would reject other rules we thought were important.  So, I did what frustrated mothers do; I scolded him, nagged him, and finally pleaded him to take it out.

Reluctantly he did. It was such a small part of his life. The significant part was that he was a quiet, shy, young man in his first year of college away from home, and he was following behind his near-perfect sister, who was outgoing, an honor student, and sang in the college choir.

However, all I could see was the gold earring in his ear.  Of course, I had not read the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. This small, 245 page book provides strategies for keeping it all in perspective, such as; “Repeat to Yourself”, “Life Isn’t an Emergency,” “Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow Drama,” “Remember, 100 Years from Now, All New People,” “Keep Asking Yourself, ‘What’s Really Important,” and “Choose Your Battles Wisely.”

Carlson suggests that life is full of opportunities to choose between making a big deal out of something or only letting it go, realizing it doesn’t really matter.  Letting it go is what I should have done.  Our son wearing an earring was not a new thing or a big deal, but my reaction made it a big deal.

History tells us that the practice of men wearing earrings started thousands of years ago.  In 1991 a body was discovered found frozen in an Australian Glacier.  Test claimed the body was more than 5,000 years old, and both ears were pierced.  It is said some superstitious sailors pierced an earlobe to improve eyesight, and if their bodies washed up somewhere, it would pay for a Christian burial.

In many societies, ear piercing is done as a puberty ritual, and is an almost universal practice for men and women; it only in Western civilization that is deemed effeminate.  During the Elizabethan era, many famous men such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Francis Drake wore gold rings in their ears.

When I reflect on raising our children, it is evident that I was sometimes guilty of sweating the small stuff. According to Carlson, people overreact, blow things out of proportion, hold on too tightly, and focus on the negative aspects of life too much.

He and his wife also wrote “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” for men, women, teens, love, family, and money.  If I had read all those books when I was raising our children, I might have been a lot more relaxed. But the fact was raising our children was the most important thing we did together in our marriage life, and sometimes it was intense.

It is comical to our children, now that I am a grandparent, how I am always telling them to relax, it’s not that important.  When we went to visit our son and his wife over the holidays, he leaned down to welcome me with a warm hug, and I felt something brush my cheek.  Sure enough, there it was again.  Only this time, it was silver.  It looked like a little spring wrapped gently around the lower lobe of his ear.  When he let go, and I looked up at him, we both grinned, remembering the mother-son battle of many years ago.

The worries of our children

According to legend, Guatemalan children tell one worry to each of their hand-made Worry Dolls, placing them under their pillow when going to bed at night. In the morning, the dolls have gifted them with wisdom and knowledge to eliminate their worries.

The Worries Of Our ChildrenWe often use the expression: “I feel as carefree as a child.” But children are not always carefree. In fact, children have many worries. I am afraid there would be a sellout on worry dolls if they really helped.

Children worry about their parents and siblings dying, their parents getting divorced, hurricanes destroying their homes, failing in school, bullies taunting them, and so much more.

I didn’t know about this Mayan legend and their worry dolls when I was a child. I was always afraid of being alone, losing my mom, making my dad mad and so many other things. I think the key to making the worry doll work was that it gave the children someone with whom to share their concerns.

Because we were a pastor’s family, we lived in a lot of different places. Our oldest daughter often worried about having to change schools. I tried to comfort her, but I couldn’t seem to say the right thing. Finally, in exasperation one day, she said, “Mom, I just need for you to tell me that everything is going to be all right.”

Remember the saying that children are to be seen and not heard? That is a myth. Children should be heard! Today, In many families, both parents have to work, or there is only one parent in the home. Sometimes it seems that there is no time to talk to the children. Child psychologists tell us that parents should make time to talk with their children.

When our youngest daughter died at 19 months old, our children had so many questions that we never even thought about. Our 5-year-old son was angry for a long time. We didn’t know what to do. He would not talk to us. Finally, my husband asked him to tell him what was worrying him. He told his dad that he was worried that his little sister wouldn’t have fried eggs for breakfast in heaven. Our youngest son wanted to know if he would die if he went to sleep and would he see her again.

We didn’t have all the answers; we had so many questions ourselves, and it was painful to answer their questions, but it helped us all to express our hurt and anger together. We found that telling our children the truth about death and other complicated things in life helped them deal with problems more realistically.

A parent can set aside time to talk with and listen to their children. The evening meal or bedtime is an excellent time to listen to what is worrying them. Or they can go for a walk or create a particular time to talk. When children see that the parent is interested, then they begin to say what is really on their minds. If they have no one to talk to, then the worry turns inward and becomes fear.

Children need to understand that reasonable fear helps maintain alertness. It makes them watch for things that are dangerous and harmful, but it has to be based on knowledge and reason. Devastating effects of a hurricane on the news are like a horror picture in the minds of children. Letting them express their fear and then developing a plan for bad weather with them makes them feel secure, as it will with whatever they are afraid of.

Children are often worried about failing a test, a grade, or the Assessment of Academic Skills test. One of my grandchildren told me that his teacher told him that failing did not mean he was not smart; it meant that maybe he had not studied. He will never forget that.

Children have worries. Worry dolls may be convenient to place under a pillow at night, but having a parent or someone to listen to them, hug them, and then tell them everything will be all right is what children really need.

Take time to enjoy mornings

One morning I was getting the children ready for school. It was the usual too busy morning with the kids running around trying to find their socks and school books. I was late for work, and the bus was due soon. I felt my job as a mom was to make sure everyone was nicely dressed, fed, and thoroughly prepared for the day ahead.

Take Time To Enjoy MorningsI’m not even sure what I was making for breakfast. I just know it was fast. The children were unusually slothful this particular morning, not moving as quickly as I thought they should. This was making me irritable, and as many mothers do, I was giving orders left and right.

My daughter came into the kitchen and said, “Mom, would you come with me a minute.”

My answer was, “I don’t have time, Christy. We are all going to be late. You will have to find your own stuff this morning.” Sound familiar? However, she was persistent. Her brothers joined her in coaxing me out of the kitchen. Consequently, after much protest, I agreed to go with them if they would hurry up.

When we entered the living room, they ask me to close my eyes. I was having a bad morning, and this exercise was taxing my patience, but reluctantly, I agreed. The children took my hand and led me onto the front porch. We lived in a rural area with lots of woods around us. When I stepped outside, they instructed me to keep my eyes closed and take a deep breath.

Surrounded by three anxious and excited children, who might have been late for school, I took a deep breath. The smell brought tears to my eyes. It was the fragrance of honeysuckles, enhanced by a humid morning that filled my entire being.

At that moment, I realized that I was going too fast and not enjoying what I had. I was so busy trying to make sure everything was ready for school and work that I failed to see their need for peace to begin their day. Needless to say, I stopped everything, wrapped them all in my arms, and we enjoyed the moment together.

When we went back inside, everyone had their things ready, we had breakfast together, and I drove them to school. I was a little late for work, but that night we turned off the TV a little early, and I told the children what I needed them to do to help me get ready for the mornings.

Each one laid their clothes, socks, and shoes out. Their books were put on the table by the door, I signed all the school papers, planned what we would have for breakfast, and even made a “to do” list for the following day. The next morning we had breakfast on the front porch. Sounds impossible, right? It wasn’t. It just took a little planning and family teamwork.

There were many times after that we had to remind ourselves to slow down and enjoy each other, but it always made a difference in our home life and their school lives. I found out later that my youngest son, who was a little hyperactive, had much better days in school when we had peaceful mornings at home.

My children are grown now and have their own children. They live in a world where there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do all the things they need too. That’s why occasionally, I have to tell them the story about the time they had to remind me to stop and smell the honeysuckles.

Going back to school at 54!

I retired from nursing and decided to return to college when I was age 54, and now my brain had to open a folder I had put away a long time ago.

Going Back To School At 54lb

Algebra has always been like electrical wires in my brain connecting the positives and negatives at the right time. However, it may be true that repetition helps, much like giving allergy injections to build up immunity. My fears began to subside a little. I mean I didn’t feel like I was going into a fatal shock, so when I felt the irritation, I slowed my breathing and tried to focus on what I knew. You know 2+2 is 4, unless, of course, it is -2+2, which would ultimately cancel each other out and be zero. Kind of like the lights going out all of a sudden.

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I began to see math as electrical wires. With each interaction, I knew that if I connected the right color wire with the right color, there would be a balance, but of course, if I connected the wrong colors I might cancel myself out. So when one route did not work, I tried another color until I found the two parts that went together. I could even compare balancing equations, such as completing the square to life in general. If everything is on one side of the equation, it is not a perfect square and if you balance one side, you must balance the other side. So, is life. We must balance our lives.

Just about the time I felt confident about completing my square, it was time to learn how to graph, but first I had to know how to find my numbers to graph. That required learning a whole new vocabulary, like X is my domain and range is my Y.

Lines are more than lines in math. It depends on where your lines are headed; vertical, horizontal, or diagonal all have their own meaning. If it is vertical, it is functional as long as the numbers do not repeat itself. If it is horizontal, we must use the vertical approach to see if one of the numbers have repeated themselves (God forbid!).

If there is a number that has repeated itself, then it is not a function. But not to worry about diagonal lines. They are always functional because they are from infinity to infinity. So now, I have graphs in my head. The only place I can think I might use these are in hanging pictures, but at least now I know. I thought, but wait there are more graphs that actually curve, and twist and more freely up and down. There went the wires in my head, connecting with the wrong color. I felt a blackout coming on.

Going home, there is no solace or pity for my difficulty in learning this subject. My husband shows me that he actually used these strange graphs to build houses and then I felt humbled because I did not recognize their importance.

I told him that every time I thought I could see, the teacher changed directions. He says I must see math differently. I must see it as a path that has many corners. Around every corner there is something beautiful.

“Beautiful,” I said.
“Ok,” he said. “Let’s say something new and interesting.”
“Ok,” I finally agree. “Maybe.”

In between my math classes, I go to the tutor. One day, the tutor showed me something that was beyond where we were in the book.

“We’re not there, yet,” I said.
“Ok, don’t worry, you will be,” he said.

A few days later, I was in class feeling like I was sitting in the middle of the million different colored tangled wires. The teacher began to put equations, square routes and strange graphs on the board. Suddenly, I found myself participating. I knew which direction he was going and I was actually getting it. In fact, I was directing the answers as he drew graphs this way and that. After the class he said he was very pleased to see that I was relaxed and enjoying the class.

“It wasn’t bad,” I said.

I had already turned the corner!

The Power of Compassion

The Power Of Compassion Pic2Sympathy looks in and says, “I’m sorry.
Compassion goes in and says, “I’m with you.

Sympathy look in and says, “I would like to help.
Compassion goes in and says, “I am here to help.

Sympathy says, “I wish I could carry your burden.
Compassion says “Cast your burden on me.

Sympathy often irritates with many words.
Compassion helps and hears in quietness and understanding.

-Author Unknown

Empathy refers to feeling what another person is feeling. Sympathy means you understand what the other person is feeling even without feeling it yourself. Compassion means your feelings have prompted you to take action to relieve the suffering of another person.

There is a story I have heard many times that illustrates the difference between sympathy and compassion and demonstrates the critical effect the act of compassion can make in another person’s life.

It seems that a young man, named Mark, was walking home from school one day when he noticed that a boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove, and a small tape recorder.

The Power Of CompassionMark knelt and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped the boy carry part of the burden. As they walked, he discovered the boy’s name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball, history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects.

They arrived at Bill’s home first, and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk; then Mark went home.

They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once in a while, then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years. Finally, the long-awaited senior year came, and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?” asked Bill. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mother’s sleeping pills, and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent time together talking and laughing, I realized that I didn’t want to die. I would have missed that time with you and so many other good times in my life that followed. What I am trying to say, Mark, is when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more. You saved my life.”

Imagine what would have happened if Mark had only shaken his head in sympathy and walked on. We never know what a difference we can make in someone’s life when we show compassion.

How Sports Teach Young People To Never Give up

It was the last 45 seconds of the game, and the basketball had been pushed into her hands. For a second, she stood there numb, bouncing the ball on the polished hardwood floor. The seconds ticked by until she was jerked into action by the shouting on the sideline. “Throw it, throw the ball!”

How Sports Teach Young People To Never Give UpA tall guard loomed in front of her face. She moved to her right side, glanced at the round metal ring with the basket below, closed her eyes, and threw the ball toward the goal as hard as she could.

Relieved that the discarded ball had distracted the aggressive guard in front of her, she glimpsed at her coach. To her surprise, he had both his hands up in the air, cheering, and so was everyone else around him.

It took a moment to figure out what happened, but suddenly she realized she had made the basket and the winning point that would place the team in 2nd for the district basketball tournament.

Teammates hugged her and patted her on the back. She was surprised when she was chosen to accept the trophy on behalf of her team. It was a moment that still makes me smile when I think about it. Yep, it was me, and the funny thing about this story is the fact that that was the only basket I made during my entire high school basketball career.

That’s because I wasn’t an outstanding player. Most of the time, I sat on the sidelines. One of the players got hurt, and for some reason, the coach decided to put me in. It may have been because I always sat there, tried my best, or didn’t have anyone throw the ball to me. Maybe he just decided to give me a chance. Whatever it was, it was my only moment as a sports champion.

The reason I went out for sports was to have fun. That’s what most kids want to do when they go out for a sport. Sure the competition is good, and if they do well, everyone notices. But even if they never score the winning point or become the player of the year, they should have a chance to enjoy being part of a team.

When I drive by the school near my home each day, I watch as students practice ball with their families and friends gathered as fans and spectators. I think about how sports can shape their lives. If they are given a chance to do their best, they can learn some valuable skills.

Playing on a team teaches good sportsmanship. That helps when we are grown up and our actions affect everyone around us. Being part of a family or working in a public job, we have to do what is best for everyone and not just ourselves.

Even though I was not a good player, I must have been in the right place when my teammate threw me the ball. She could have thrown the ball herself, but she chose to take a chance that I could make the goal.

Rules are an essential part of life, and one of the first public places kids learn about rules is on a team at school. I had to work at the rules in basketball. The buzzer was always sounding when I stood in one place, holding the ball too long or stepped on a line that was out of bounds. I think they were called fouls, and I made plenty.

In real life, there are rules we need to respect. When the light is red, we stop, when the light is green, we go. If we do that, most of the time, we will get across the road unharmed. Rules keep us safe.

Another important lesson learned in sports is respecting our teammates, opponents, and officials. As parents, we tend to center our lives around our children and their needs. In sports, children learn to think of someone besides themselves. How they treat each other will affect the entire team. Even how they treat their opponents can affect the team.

Learning how to respect the authority of the coaches and officials can be a big part of being successful in life. It is a fact that children who do not learn to respect authority when they are young spend most of their life in trouble.

Playing basketball did not make me a great athlete, and my one moment of success did not make my parents push me into trying to become a sports star. It did, however, teach me some valuable lessons that I use every day.

I learned that if you stay around long enough, try as hard as you can, someone might give you a chance, and if they throw you the ball, aim high and give it all you got, you might win.