Featured

Me!

This is the post excerpt.


Me!
I am a retired teacher. I taught 20 years. I retired because of my weakened condition but my mind is afire. I read, write, reflect, and write every day. My POV is usually as a teacher but not always. I have a bucket list and on it is to be a published author. I have many books to write. I want a cure for ALS. I want to spread LOVE. I want my maker to use me until I'm completely exhausted. Life is for living. 
"Enjoy every sandwich"
Warren Zevon

Obstacles

IMG_5174

Obstacles

 

 


In my mind today, I’m thinking of obstacles. I’ve had lots of obstacles lately but haven’t we all? I’ve been desperately wanting to write, but life has gotten in the way. I’ve had to deal with my youngest having Influenza Type B, DSCC fundraiser, Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday, book club, and Vanderbilt doctor appointments. Whew! Obstacles.

Finally, I’m here to write and it’s Lent. I was thinking maybe God wants me to give up writing for Lent? Nah. My back row students need this time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving instruction. We have discussed prayer and we are going to do more of it for certain, right back row? I saw that paper wad flying back there. Let’s begin.

Fasting is not only about food. It can be giving up a habit or desire. Lots of us are so immersed in the digital realm from television to social media. I observe when I’m out and about the multitude of humans attached to electronic devices. Back row quit grumbling, we are not giving up our electronics. Hey, I’m guilty, too. Let me make a point here. I want you to fast from the future for Lent. Yes, the future. I’m talking about living in the moment, second by second, minute by minute. I know things have to be planned like doctor appointments, but starting NOW make a conscious decision to choose good in each moment. You, my students, are given thousands of choices every day. Focus on each moment and make the best, honorable, wisest decision that you can. Here are some examples: cheat on a test or not, exercise or play on your phone, say something cruel or keep your mouth shut, eat junk food or choose something healthy, and argue or agree to disagree. We are bombarded with choices each second so focus on your choices in each moment. That’s it and yes that’s an assignment. We miss many moments or chances to do good, build character, and foster our happiness not being in our moments. Yes, that’s a fact Jack!

After a wonderful outing Friday, sitting with my flu infested daughter Saturday and Sunday, doctor appointment Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and book club last night, I’m Sal the Rolling Stone Gal. I’m pushing onward. I’m trying to be in the moments. Sitting at mass Wednesday waiting on my ashes, I saw so many opportunities for doing good. I urged the non-Catholic who sits with an elderly parishioner to go get her ashes. I was able to give words of love to a beautiful friend who just lost her husband. I grabbed and held the hand of a friend with Parkinson’s and whispered “God Bless You.” I prayed for a sweet cousin who just got diagnosed with the C word. I shared a sandwich and conversation with parishioners who gathered for fellowship in the parish hall after mass. So thinking, reading, and writing helped me reflect. Am I Sal the Teacher Gal practicing what I’m preaching? I’m trying really, really hard and I hope you do, too. Life is so very fleeting. You only have your moments to act. Regardless of the obstacles in your life, make the most of your moments.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Live in the Moments Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Buddha

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Omar Khayyam

“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.”
Richard Bach

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
Jim Morrison

Prayer

Prayer

IMG_5153.JPG

In my mind today, I’m thinking of prayer. You hear and see it often among friends and family. Being Catholic, prayer is key. We have many formal prayers: the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. These are common. Prayer is a way to “love others as we love ourselves.”

Scrolling through social media there are always petitions for prayers. The world is hurting. I see friends battling cancer, surgery, deaths, and just life. Prayer is such a gift.

I love to pray. It’s in those still moments that I consciously seek to commune with my maker. As a Catholic, you may think my prayers are formal. Yes, I clutch a worn rosary during my prayerful times, but I have quite the Protestant slant to many of my prayers. I plead and beg God for needs of my family and friends in plain speech. Sometimes I just think of the person or situation and let God do the rest. There are so many ways to pray. There are short “Jesus, Help Me” or “Thank you” prayers and long pleading prayers from our hearts. The wonderful thing is that I really think God hears all prayers.

Lent is coming. As a Sunday School teacher and Youth Minister at my little parish church, I’m going to focus on prayer with my students. They are an answered prayer for me. I’m given an outlet to still physically teach each Sunday for 60 minutes. This is some of my most beloved and cherished time.

The forty days before Easter are a time of reflection and renewal. A time to cultivate healthy habits. Many “give up’ a vice for lent, but I’m going to suggest we add more prayer. I know it will enhance the and stoke the “light” in our world. Do you have a Lenten goal? Whatever your faith, I hope you join me and my students as we pray for each other, our churches, our schools, our towns, and our world. Prayer works. Can I get an Amen?

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Love to Pray Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.”
Gandhi

“Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
Mother Teresa

“Three of the best prayers: Thanks, Help, and Forgive me.”
Sarah Alley aka Sal the ALS Gal

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.
Amen.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen

Impulses

Impulses

In my mind today, I’m thinking about impulses. We all have them. We have bad and good impulses. That’s human frailty, but I’m focusing on good impulses. The questions are: where do they come from, should we act on them, and why do we get them?

I’ve always had impulses even as a small child. I remember seeing an older man desperately struggling to find something in a grocery store. I watched as he asked several people passing by, “Is this real orange juice?” Each of the women he asked shirked him off with a “humph.” I did notice he was unkempt and scruffy looking. I had an impulse to help him so I did. I was small and around 6 or 7 years old. I walked up to the man and pointed to the orange juice. I said, “Mister, this is orange juice.” He was so grateful and that’s the first time I remember giving mercy. Guess what? It felt good. On the way home I asked my mom, “Why would no one help him?” She said, “Sweetheart, he was poor, illiterate, and probably homeless.” My heart literally hurt for him.

I still get very strong impulses today. Do I act on them? Yes, I try to always act on them whether it’s a mother trying to decide what to put back at the checkout counter or a person sitting alone in a restaurant. I get impulses to act. Do you get impulses? More importantly can you act on them?

Not only have I acted on impulses but I’ve often been on the other side of mercy. Once on one of our many trips to Vanderbilt to my neurologist, I was given a beautiful act of mercy. If you know my Ken, he is a creature of habit. He has to be because I’m so willy-nilly. Bless him for dealing with me and my impulsive self. Anyway we always stop at the same Pilot service station to and from Nashville each time we travel. Often the same homeless man with his sign and dog are there. This particular day was a bad one for me. I was swollen, not breathing well, and literally dying. I usually stay in the van in my chair and wait with the ramp down so I can stretch my legs until they get back. The homeless man saw me. I smiled. As Abbey and Ken were loading up, he ran up the ramp and put a pumpkin in the van seat by me that he had carved the word LOVE onto with his pocket knife. He never utter a word. He quickly exited the van. Ken was freaking out. He said, “He stole that pumpkin! We could get in trouble!” I said, “He just wanted to spread love.” I left my stolen, impulse, mercy-love pumpkin proudly displayed in my classroom that fall and winter. Later that winter, I was hospitalized with a failing diaphragm from my disease and almost died. That homeless man saw my exhausted, weary body and acted on his impulse. I felt love and mercy.

So where do these gut-wrenching impulses come from? Sal the Spiritual Gal thinks they are urged of the divine within us: the Holy Spirit. I roll through this chapter of my life hoping to find more impulses or small ways to serve while I’m still here. That, my students, is why we get those impulses. They are calls to give mercy. Your assignment is to answer those calls of mercy or impulses as you go through each day of your lives. Listen with your heart.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Impulse Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.”
Elie Wiesel

“Mistrust first impulses; they are nearly always good.”
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man’s actions.”
Albert Einstein

“One of the reasons why so few of us ever act, instead of react, is because we are continually stifling our deepest impulses.”
Henry Miller

Jesus Wept

Jesus Wept

In my mind today I’m thinking of one of the most profound verses for me: Jesus Wept. How powerful is this? I remember going over this section with my Sunday School class and thinking wow. This morning it was brought up again in my reading.

As humans, we have many times of weeping. Our lives are like roller coaster rides. It’s a wonder we make it out sane. Weeping is a big part of coping for us. We lose loved ones, our health, jobs, homes, faith, friends, and hope. When tragedy enters our lives, we commence to wailing, moaning, and weeping.

Jesus wept, too. He wept for the loss of a friend. He wept for the broken hearts of Mary and Martha. He wept also because of the loss of faith. Here is God in human form but yet you wail, moan, weep, and complain even when he says, “Hey, it’s going to be okay. I promise. Trust me. I’m God’s son.” How did they react? They replied, “Please don’t remove that stone. Our brother died and is rotting in his grave because YOU were not here.” See, they lost faith. Think. Do we lose faith and hope? I’m sad to report yes and much too often.

To have true, unyielding faith is very, very hard. We humans are broken in that way. We want to fix our own problems, take matters in our own hands, and be the rulers of our destinies. Guess what? This makes Jesus weep. His whole purpose was to cast light on the ways we should act, demonstrate truth and morals, and give mercy to each other. Choose faith, hope, and love. Choose to be merciful. Turn tears into dancing.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Weeping Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Oh, I am very weary, Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, My heart is sick of woe.”
Anne Bronte

“Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
William Butler Yeats

“There should be weeping at a man’s birth, not at his death.”
Charles de Montesquieu

 

Age

Age

 

In my mind today I’m thinking about growing up. I’m thinking that soon Sal will be a 1/2 a Century Gal. Every morning I read, read, and read some more. What stood out today was our milestones of growth.

I remember the old saying “Love is Wasted on the Young.” Why is this? I think it’s because we are living with abandon full of vim and vigor. We don’t slow down because hey we’ve got dates, places to go, and people to meet. When we traverse a few decades and take a breath we realize love is so precious and we should have cultivated much more of it and embraced it in our youth. We didn’t realize the fleetingness of our time.

Back row quit saying, “Too bad, so sad Ms. Alley. You are O-L-D!” The wonderful aspect of living is that it’s never too late to start embracing what we have in our precious, present moments. If we do this, then age becomes obsolete and definitely not wasted. The key is “wake up and smell the roses” of love. Embrace it. Nurture it. Help it flourish in your lives. Yes, back row right now.

I read the analogy that each of our lives is like an iceberg. Most people only see the tip poking up out of the water and there is a lot submerged that we conceal. Growing older is messy. We do want to submerge those less than lovely parts of our lives. A quote from Carl Jung I read from Hallelujah Anyway inspired me about how to deal with the “submerged messes” of our lives. The most painful issues can’t be solved—they can only be outgrown, but that takes time and deep work. Whew! That’s great news isn’t it? Students here’s the problem of the day: our modern culture wants quick fixes. For my older students, are you smarter, more accomplished today than when you were a teenager? I know I surely am. Thanks be to God!

Kudos for growing! Are you willing to do the work? Or would you rather stuff down your unattractive parts with pride, narcissism, drugs, shopping, pettiness, prejudice, or ignorance? Hiding that “stuff” is your biggest time waster and enemy. I know sixty year olds who still haven’t grown up. It’s truly sad. Here’s another quote from the book Hallelujah Anyway that really resounded with me: “There are so many ways for a life to go bad, for a person to end up permanently isolated, thwarted, blaming.” How can we help so many to make a change, see the light, or grow up? Then in the same novel by Anne Lamott this quote spoke volumes to be a healing balm of our cultural Gilead, “Polite inclusion is the gateway drug to mercy.” Kindness, love, forgiveness, and true friendship can truly flow from one person to the other. Those capable of polite inclusion are wise, old souls. They realize the importance of kindness in such a rushed, fractured culture. If you happen upon a friend, partner, or acquaintance like this, you are truly blessed. Learn from them. Seek their advice. Call on them in times of strife. They are the most needed drug to deal with those hurting in our world. Guess what? These types reveal the totality of their icebergs. They have outgrown their pride, pettiness, materialism, and prejudice. No matter your age, embrace it! Start living and enjoying your age whether you’re 13 or 83 years old. Don’t waste time wanting to go back or fast forward. This is only time you have kids! Embrace your age.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Old Sage Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”
Earl Nightingale

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
MLK Jr.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
Leo Tolstoy

 

Have Mercy!

Have Mercy!


In my mind today, I’m trying to center myself and plot out how I want to serve others in the new year. Believe it or not, I’m still here with ALS/PMA dipe and all. I’ve found the cure to melancholy and depression. I’ve shared it before and I’ll continue until the “back row” students understand. It truly is in giving that we receive. Focus outward, not inward. It makes life bearable especially for Sal the ALS Gal. I hear some of you complaining that you have no money to help others. Hey, neither do I, but I do have mercy that can be given in abundance. Mercy: compassionate treatment of those in distress: blessings. I’m searching for ways to serve and deliver mercy.

Last Friday night I attended a local basketball game. It takes a lot to get Sal the Basketball Loving Gal out of the house especially in the winter and at night. It’s a sacrifice indeed. I never know how my body will betray me from fatigue and atrophy. Let’s just say it was really rebelling Friday night. My right hand wouldn’t push the joystick to drive my scoot, my neck was wobbly and terribly tired, and my breathing was labored affecting my speech. I had a big dose of humility as I was escorted to my area. Being so frail in a place where I was once so strong is truly humbling.

I looked around the crowd and saw familiar faces: former colleagues, students, and peers. The student section was full of life and youth. As the girls ran out for warm-ups, I remembered my years on the basketball court. I was so very grateful to be able to watch, enjoy, and remember other seasons of my life. Ironically, it was “Throwback” night and the theme was the 1980’s. The students were all decked out in 80’s garb. It made me chuckle. Big bangs, concert shirts, and mini skirts, were all the rage. Whew! Have mercy on our style!

Many people came by and gave me hugs, talked basketball, told me how my former classroom is going, and updated me on their current undertakings. Guess what students? They gave me mercy. Compassion. What costs nothing but can reverberate and last an eternity? Mercy. Forgiveness. Loving the unloveable. Especially when love and forgiveness is not deserved, this is the ultimate form of mercy. Will I ever get there? I’m trying desperately to do so. And of course I urge you to find mercy that may be locked up inside of your own hearts. We have all been hurt by others. We have all had times of gossiping. We have all been “twits.” Unpack mercy this year. Yes, this is an assignment back row. Remember to have mercy on yourselves first.
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Merciful Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“God’s mercy is fresh and new every morning.”
Joyce Meyer

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Jesus Christ

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
Winston Churchill

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
Abraham Lincoln

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
Pope Francis

 

‘Till Death Do Us Part

‘Till Death Do Us Part


In my mind today, I’m thinking about true partnerships and commitments. Yesterday was a dear friend’s birthday. We’ve know each other for years, but as of late we’ve become “soul sisters.”

Our lives have eerily paralleled. We married young to older men who had children. We love being a mother. We put love into creating and sustaining our marriages. We both deal with health issues of our spouses and our own. Thirty years ago when we fell in love with these men, we never envisioned the mountains we would climb. We both know where we draw our strength to push forward relishing every grandchild and moments of true love.

It’s not all roses and we both have our crying days. I know that I can be real with her. We both miss so many of the same things. We let each other know it’s okay to grieve our healthy years. With the help of our amazing husbands, we’ve grown to understand and cherish “In sickness and in health and until death do us part.” Would we change any of it? Never.

She recently had a birthday. In the wee hours, she awoke to another bout of sickness. In the mist of cleaning up after her physically challenged, dearly loved husband she found a letter he had written to her before the “stomach bug” attacked. She read it to me and I felt tears fall down my cheeks. How lovely to be cherished and loved so, so much. Even better is to know and realize God’s blessings amid the storms of life and be so blessed with true love. This is truly what life is about.

Happy Birthday my friend. You are the wind beneath so many wings. Like the wind, you go unnoticed but always felt. You always are thinking of ways to serve others unbeknownst. I love and treasure my “soul sister.” Thank you for being that wind beneath my wings when I feel like giving up. Happy, Happy Birthday!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Soul Sister Gal

Dedicated to Tracy

Quotes of the Day:
“You need a lot of luck to find people with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. Some people manage to find their soul mate. Others don’t. I think love is like a lottery.”
Kylie Minogue

“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”
George Sand

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Lao Tzu

“Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of family.”
R.W.C.

“I love you more than peach milkshakes, enough said.”
R.W.C.