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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

Fathers

 

Have you ever seen a man that loves to hold infants? The babies that are fresh to the world and just little squirmy, helpless creatures? This is one of the reasons I love my husband so much. He loves holding tiny, helpless babies. It’s just so endearing to watch him.

Birthing each of my children was a traumatic event for me. Once they were here I knew I had to dig deep and survive. The first six weeks was a blur. Don’t get me wrong. I was very grateful and madly in love with my infant children, but the daily life didn’t stop. So the baby had to be incorporated into my busy life. It was tough. Those first weeks of nurturing were a form of sleep-walking. I was so relieved when Ken would step in and cuddle our little ones. He never looked more handsome than when he was holding our babies. What a man.

Babies still enchant our lives. Each family gathering Ken is always holding the newest addition. I watch him in awe. I think how blessed his children are to have such an amazing father. He is really so special. If you ever encounter a man that loves babies then I guarantee he will be a wonderful father. He is a priceless treasure.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I Love Ken Gal

Dedication:
Happy Father’s Day, Ken. You are one of the best and we love you.

Quotes of the Day:
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.
Jim Valvano

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.”
John Wooden

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.”
William Shakespeare

 

 

895 Miles


Today as I was jostled awake and placed into my chair, I was thinking of my children. I’ve been so blessed with each child God gifted to me.

I drank my coffee and looked out my kitchen window at the many bird feeders and birdhouses. This is a treat in every season. The feeders are low thanks to a squirrel who has decided to live on the Alley compound. I know my Ben will fill them for me. He also keeps my flowers watered by the window in the living room so I can see the hummingbirds zip in to feed every day. He has chosen to be my primary caregiver. A part of me hates this because he is putting his life on hold to care for me. He reassures me that he is okay and wants to be my person. We live one day at a time and this time with him has been so fruitful. I thank God for it. He makes living in a chair not just bearable but sunny.

Then I thought of my oldest Ian. He just started a new career and got married. I say little prayers for him throughout the day. He has chosen a tough career, but he assures me it is one he enjoys. I can’t believe he is just a year away from being thirty years old. My sons have become men overnight. They each love our family fiercely. They each bring joy to our lives. I’m so blessed for the love they give us.

Oh my youngest was a gift from above, too. I hate that my body started to betray me while she was so young. I couldn’t be the field trip chaperone mom. I couldn’t fix her hair because my hands and arms atrophied first. I feel she was cheated of the physically strong mother her brothers had. We made the best of the situation. Now, she’s on the cusp of her senior year in high school. As I thought of her this morning, I smiled. She’s on a summer adventure in New York City. She studying her two of her favorites: theatre and journalism. She’s staying in the heart of Manhattan at the Fordham University Lincoln Center. Each day I check my messages and there’s a new adventure. “Mom, guess what?” Me excitedly, “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” Abbey replies, “Just saw Sarah Jessica Parker getting on the subway. No big deal.” Me “NO WAY!” Then she tells me, “Yup, going in the subway by Central Park near the Brownstone neighborhood.” She’s 895 miles from me, but our hearts are always together. I know she will fly far from me but nothing not even ALS can separate our hearts. She will carry us along. It is sad that our season of parenting is coming to a close. The dynamics will change, but that’s life. When I think of my children, I am so humbled that God chose me to be their mother. I’m grateful for each moment and memory. It’s been my greatest adventure.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Mom Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“My children are the reason I laugh, smile and want to get up every morning”
Gena Lee Nolin

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Fredrick Douglass

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
Billy Graham

Grace, Mercy, & Love

Think of times you are given gifts. It feels really good when others think of you. As a child, you expect gifts. The more you receive the better. Right? In my adult years, I’ve always been bashful about receiving gifts. This drives my husband crazy! He is just so thoughtful and always has been. I can’t pinpoint when “stuff” became so unimportant to me.

I remember as a child I always was doted on especially by my father. He always tried to give me special surprises. I can remember when he would come home and I would run to him and say, “What did you bring me Daddy?” It may have only been a candy bar, but he always had something for me. Even during his alcoholic binges he would appear with gifts for me. I have a vivid memory of him showing up reeking of alcohol and bringing me the brand new bicycle I had been dreaming about. It was on display at a local hardware store downtown. It was a sparkly blue and best of all it had a banana seat! The seat was striped with blue and yellow. It had a white plastic woven basket with three pink flowers across the front. Boy, I loved that bike. I remember my mother coming out on the front porch and saying, “John, how did you get that bicycle?” Remember, I said he was on another binge. That always coincides with lost or quit job, running around with drinking buddies, and no money. I can’t tell you how many times my sweet, beautiful, hard-working mother had to endure this cycle. It breaks my heart. Well, my mother went to the phone and called the store. The bicycle was put on her credit account. So now she had to figure a way to pay yet another bill, keep our house, and feed all of us while my Father swooped in and gave me this lavish birthday present. She did and 42 years ago I got the bike of my dreams. It took about seven more years but my Dad was able to overcome his addiction. That was one of the best gifts of all.

This year a few weeks ago, Ken asked, “What do you want for your birthday?” I really have it all and it’s not materialistic. It’s Grace, Mercy, and Peace. I have been gifted the Grace to roll around, head high, and be oblivious to the condition of my physical self. I have Mercy which showers me and strengthens me knowing that the selfish me no longer controls my choices. I am comforted with an inner Peace. I know from where all of my gifts come and they are freely given to anyone only if they embrace them. This life has been and still is so fruitful. I still have many miles to roll, places to see, and moments to live. You do, too. God will see to it. Be brave. Have Faith to accept your gifts of Grace, Mercy, and Peace.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Gift Loving Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“I believe that God has put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of every one of us. When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe that you’re a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation.”
Joel Osteen

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”
Maya Angelou

“Each day provides its own gifts.”
Marcus Aurelius

 

Moral Compass

Moral Compass

I’ve been on earth almost half of a century. My life has had many highs and several lows. To stay sane you have to just roll with the changes trusting that whatever storm we are facing will pass just as those fun, love-filled times did. Through it all we have to put our best foot forward and finish our race. Which foot should we use? What pace should we run? All these come from our moral compass.

When I read headlines or catch a glimpse of the news, it troubles me. Something has gone terribly wrong. There are children hurting so badly that they open fire on each other. There’s human trafficking to fill perverted sexual desires. The abundance of children living with a parent who love getting high more than their precious children. The need for people to escape the reality of this world through chemical means. Are we mentally softer or weaker than generations past or am I imagining things? When the going gets tough we go searching for something at the pharmacy to right it. Is being made of sterner stuff a thing of the past?

There is so much hate and confusion. I read scriptures and pray each day for God to use me. I want to be like Jesus. I want to empty myself and spread love. I want there to be love left everywhere I go. Remember in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis when Aslan comes back and everywhere he prances flowers and plants spring to life? That’s what I envision me doing in my wheelchair. Me embracing my moral compass and everywhere I go leaving a trail of beauty behind me as I roll! Then, I will come to my end and step into eternity and be at peace. It’s urgent for us to dig deep, clean out the garden our souls, and use those compasses that God gave us.

What the world needs now more than ever is to grow our moral compasses. We are currently at a huge crossroad. Everyone wants to be right. Everyone feels they have the knowledge and discernment to be the judge on so many moral issues. We have lost the intimacy of being humans. Sharing meals and taking time to listen to our children and spend time with our elders. Don’t get me wrong. I depend on technology for so much, but the access of so much too soon is a problem. It’s literally poisoning the minds of our children, promoting immoral behaviors, and making everything a world of me not we. We are in this together. Just one kind gesture at a time and we can begin to move toward decency. It costs nothing to be kind and considerate. Being cruel or mean is never an option. We have to find our moral compass or I fear the human race will be lost forever.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Moral Compass Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.”
Michelle Obama

“Conscience is a man’s compass.”
Vincent Van Gogh

“Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
Brad Henry

Just a Dog

 

 


In my mind I’m thinking about beloved pets specifically dogs. Remember your childhood days? Were you lucky enough to have a family pet? If you didn’t, I can honestly say you missed a lot of love. I have always loved animals and much to my mother’s dismay brought several home as a child. I got it honest. My father was worse than me for having a soft spot for animals. It makes complete sense that I follow in his footsteps. Pets are just extended family according to Sal the Animal Loving Gal.

I remember each and every pet I’ve ever had. I remember the antics of begging my mom to let them stay. Of course, she always did. She always made sure each animal was cared for when I was too busy being a kid. Thank God for mothers.

Do I have favorites? Well, each pet has its own special personality and trait. I can’t say that some were better. They all have a special place in my heart. Each one gave me companionship and joy. There were different pets in different seasons and each shared my life as a outside-loving, adventuresome girl. Oh, the places we did go! I know I always had a best friend by my side.

This year I’ve had to say goodbye to two of my beloved dogs. It’s taken me almost six months to pen the words. To give a proper tribute to these two special girls Lily and Lucy has been so hard. My mop-topped Lucy came to me one Valentine’s Day as a gift to keep me moving. My body was weakening from atrophy and I had no clue how devastating this disease would be. Instead of running, she and I walked. I know we walked many miles over her 13 too short years. My big, beloved, stinky sheepdog never wavered. She watched me go from running, walking, hobbling with a cane, and finally to a wheelchair. When my walking days were over, I rolled in my scoot with her faithfully on my left side. Some days we just sat looking into the sky. We were both too tired and our bodies slowing down. She started struggling to walk as I rolled only one mile. I would say, “Good girl Lucy Seuss. Let’s just head home.” Then came the struggling to get up. Her hips were worn out. I would pet her and say, “I feel your pain sweet girl.” Then the day came when she was to cross over rainbow bridge. I couldn’t beg her to stay in such a worn-out body. There is not hospice care or motorized wheelchairs for our fur babies. We had lived a beautiful season together so I told her, “I’ll meet you on the other side. We will have a good long walk. You are my Lucy in the Sky now.”

My hard headed cross between Willie Nelson and a basset hound Lily left me in January. She had more issues than Reader’s Digest and more road miles touring than Waylon, Wille, and the Boys. She was literally know in our Tri-County Area. Everyone knew and loved our Lily. She frequented the pound. They would just call and say, “Sarah, Lily is here.” We would bust her out. Remember those long wooded paths we walked? Well, one led to a little country store called “Countryside Grocery.” As the crow flies, it was less than 1,000 feet from my house. What do hounds do? Follow their noses of course! She became pals with the local farmers. When I left for work at 7 AM, she did, too. She ate breakfast with the farmers for a decade. Farmers brought her home after her day at the store. The owners let her stay till closing and then brought her home. We tried everything to keep her here, but she was everyone’s dog. Then like all good things, they end. The store was bought by a Dollar General chain. Talk about convenience. There was a lot more convenience for Our Lily. There were automated doors and pig ears on the bottom shelves. Doggy heaven, right? She had a running tab at the “Gentral.” She was one of the best actors. She could rival Morgan Freeman. She could have won an Oscar. She was given treats galore. I just chuckle. She was Facebook famous. People would post look at this poor basset at the Dollar General. People would tag me and reply, “That’s Sarah’s dog.” What a life this girl of ours lived. It was a dream life for a basset. Such personality this girl had. There will never be another Lily. My daughter is still grieving but she’s college bound and Lily was to be our last basset. Maybe one day she’ll have her own “Lily.” I could fill volumes with “Lily Tales.” She loved me ferociously. She would always nudge and lick my immobile feet because I couldn’t bear hug her anymore. When we met the neighborhood bully Pit bull, Pokey, she would race to my rescue putting herself between Pokey and my wheelchair. Once Pokey got my foot, but Lily backed her off and we escaped. I’m crying again as I type. We shared such beautiful times. When I took her for her first vet visit with Lucy, my vet said don’t be surprised if Lily is your alpha. She was and I love and miss her so much. She died a rainy Wednesday night in my friend’s yard. She was traveling with the latest stray that was dropped at the Dollar General. I came home from youth group and my boys were muddy and sad. They had put her to rest by my pink rose bush. They knew I would be inconsolable to see her lifeless.

Lily and Lucy are at rest side by side in my flower garden. I will be scattered there with them one day. My kids know I want to be free to romp in my garden with them and feed my flowers. Now our herd consists of Daisy May the Stray and Dolly. Both of these girls were dumped out. Dolly came from the Dollar General about a month before Lily left us. Hence her name Dolly General. Daisy was dropped at a relative’s house and Lily talked her into jumping in my SUV 8 years ago. The rest is history,

Are they just dogs? I don’t think so. They are part of our singing, dancing, mourning, and living. Both of my sons assured me I had given them a great life as I wept for days. I think so, too. I know because my heart wouldn’t hurt so.
RIP to my girls.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Dog Loving Gal

Quote of the Day:
“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”
Bruce Cameron

 

A Thousand Words…

A Thousand Words

Mother’s Day is upon us. Mothers come in many varieties. They leave such a strong imprint on their children. No matter the type of mother you are born to, you always yearn for that mother’s acceptance, approval, and love. When I think of my mother I remember her whipping up the best meals and rarely sitting down to enjoy them. I remember her denying herself of materialistic things and making sure we had what we needed. I remember her running a household, working twelve hour shifts, and still having time to talk with me. She always put money into savings for our future safety. She dreamed big for her children. She went to bat for me to allow me to experience the world in ways she never was able to do. During warm seasons, she kept fresh flowers, most often roses, she had picked from the yard on our kitchen table. Most importantly, I remember her genuine interest, talks, and time she gave to me. Rachel Sharon was and is the epitome of what a mother should be. I am truly blessed.

For boys, their mother is the first woman they fall in love with. As they grow, they color pictures, write poems, and make cards for her. No one can cook as well as her or know you like your mother. The most treasured things are making your favorite meal, kissing your boo boos, and the light in her eyes when she sees her son. That relationship teaches them how to love and respect the wife and mother of their children. It is so very important. The bond between a son and mother is indestructible.

For girls, their relationship is quite different. I’ve seen it too often and in myself. We know the world is tough for women. We subconsciously prepare our daughters for this sometimes to the point of friction. Girls test their mother’s judgement and loyalty. Often they go running to their father for shelter and reassurance amid the squabbles of mother/daughter tension. Don’t misunderstand me. Mothers treasure their daughters. There is no greater bond than between a mother and daughter. There is just a period of time when you feel more like sparring partners than mother and daughter. Think back. Who was real with you as a teenager? (Insert conflict here whether it be over makeup, hairstyles, clothes, friends, or boyfriends.) As we grow into women, we have a reckoning. When we become mothers ourselves, it slaps us in the face. The lightbulb comes on so brightly it momentarily blinds us. What do we do? We reach out to our mothers, hug them, and say, “I so get it. Your job is constant and never ending. You are the seamstress of our family making sure we all stay pulled together with stitches of support, direction, and altruistic love.” We then bear our own needles to secure our own tapestry that is in progress. We realize how important our title is. We are mothers.

Seek out the mothers in your lives and show them you love and appreciate them. Mothers have such a heavy burden and carry it so gracefully. They mold honorable men. They meld strong women. They support husbands. They nurture those around them. The world would be a mess without mothers. Do something to honor the mother that helped shape and guide you.

Happy Mother’s Day
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Grateful for Rachel Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”
Rudyard Kipling

“Men are what their mothers made them.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Only mothers can think of the future – because they give birth to it in their children.”
Maxim Gorky

 

Where I See God

I see God in nature. As a child, I would refuse to go inside on a pretty day. My mother told me that at two years of age my best friend Clayton and I would head out with our pails to rescue bugs. When we moved to a neighborhood and had a nice sized yard, I would find holes filled with toads. I would take them in to our bathroom, place them in the sink, and shut the door. I then would head out to find more. Whoever opened the bathroom door would be in for a big surprise. It was usually my mom. I can hear her saying, “Sarah Anne, what in the world are you doing?”

I cried when people killed bugs. Sometimes my older brother did it just to torment me. He would pull the legs off of a grasshopper and ask, “You want me to put it out of it’s misery?” In my mind I envisioned a little hospital crew reattaching the maimed part and quickly said, “Yes! Please help it.” He would proceed to stomp the poor insect while I wailed and sobbed. Another evil tactic was talking my grass-hopper collections and tossing them into spider webs as I screeched. Traumatic times indeed. Boys really are made of “snakes and snails.”

I remember walks with my dogs discovering snakes, gullies, riverlets, and ponds. The adventures were always satisfying eating wild berries and snatching fruit from neighbors trees to serve as a makeshift lunch. I would explore for hours and heading home in the gloaming which is still a favorite time of day for me. Everything glows and seems lucid to the eye. These walks continued until being ambulatory was stolen away by by ALS. My dogs and I explored the woods around my home. We’ve flushed squirrels and deer. Watching the hounds bay and chase is a beautiful sight. Of course, no one was harmed. The joy is in the pursuit which is a good thing because my girls never caught anything. Watching them rush to ponds to swim and flounce their sodden coats as they came back to me on our adventure always made me smile.

Today, I roll and still commune with nature. It’s limited to my yard but it’s a sanctuary to me. I trek in my scoot watching birds enjoy my feeders, birdhouses, and trees. The butterflies and bees scurrying and harvesting from my flowers. My dogs follow me and rest at my feet as I look up dreamily into the trees I planted as mere saplings. Their girth a treasure I thought I would never see. I spend hours watching and listening to nature. From toddler to death, I will enjoy my sacred time with God in his roofless sanctuary.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Nature Gal