The First

The First

 

In my mind today, I’m thinking about my great nephew. His grandmother is my amazing sister, Judy. She has a heart so big and I thank God for her every single day. If there’s an anchor in our family, it’s her. When she called yesterday hysterical and pleading for prayers, my heart literally cracked. Kyler, her grandson, had a tragic accident on a 4-wheeler. He was being air-lifted for head trauma. I’ve been praying along with many since her call.

Kyler was the first of my great-grands to accept me in my chair. It was like her never saw it. He made me feel accepted and loved even though I could no longer join in physical activities with the kiddos at our family get togethers. He would hop on my scoot with me and away we would go. In almost every family picture, he is in my lap. When I go to his ball games he always lights up when I roll in. Kyler is just special. We all love him very much.

Today as I would read and pray, my focus is just with Kyler, my niece Tiffany, and my sister Judy. I’m asking God for a miracle of complete healing. Please keep our family in your prayers. Show tunes Sal is finding it tough to sing today. Life is so very fragile, but God is so much stronger. I truly believe in the Lord the Giver of life. He loved us first.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to my Great nephew Kyler

Quotes of the Day:

“There are no greater treasures than the highest human qualities such as compassion, courage and hope. Not even tragic accident or disaster can destroy such treasures of the heart.”
Daisaku Ikeda

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
Desmond Tutu

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”
Gilbert K. Chesterton

 

I Won’t Back Down

I Won’t Back Down!

IMG_4581

In my mind today, I’m thinking about music and savage beasts. Music is such an endowment to humans. My husband is such a connoisseur of music. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. He instilled this passion in each of our kids. This morning before he went on his way to work he peeked into the bedroom and said, “Tom Petty was a big part of our lives. We listened to a lot of him through our years together.” It’s true. We saw him in concert several times. We own all of his albums from his early years to present. Yes, death comes for us all. All morning his tunes have been dancing in my mind. Such a beautiful, musical mind starting his next adventure on the b-side of life.

Music has always been special in our home. We love all kinds of music from home-tapers to classical. We’ve raised our kids to having days off by the pool listening to music. Many days at home with no tv and just music permeating the air. Watching musical documentaries together is still a treat. You can say loving music is part of the Alley way.

Music can truly influence your state of mind. It can invoke an array of moods: enraged, melancholy, optimistic, forlorn, electrified, jovial, lucky, tenderness, and invincible. I associate songs with so much. I used it to teach in my classroom. I used it to explain complex ideas and show the mood of the era of history I was teaching. One of my favorite units was teaching music through the decades. My students were amazed and became fans of the classics. One of my former classmates said, “Sarah, you turned my daughter on to the Beatles.” What a compliment! Music is used to make connections in my brain with so many of life’s moments from first loves to last breaths. I guess the Alleys are a bunch of music nerds and I helped to create a few, too.

Ah, thank God for music and talented musicians. They do make life more enjoyable and endurable.
Ironically as Tom Petty was leaving the world many others did too at the concert shooting in Las Vegas. Senseless acts of violence enrage me. America where is your unity? We need to find it quick, like yesterday. Violence is a savage beast. So what can we do to soothe it? When I got up this morning, the song “I Won’t Back Down” was in my mind and I was singing it. I usually wake with a song in my mind and on my lips. With yesterday’s events, it was so fitting. Americans we can’t back down from doing what’s right. We can’t let fear rule our hearts. We have one life and one voice. Let’s not waste them. We have to continue to promote equality, justice, hope, and love in the face of evil. Join me in singing today. “I Won’t Back Down.”

Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to Tom Petty and America

Quotes of the Day:

“I Won’t Back Down”

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

[Chorus:]
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

“Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

“Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”
Tom Petty

R.I.P.

Bills! Yay! Not.

Bill Day! Yay! Not.

 

 

In my mind today I’m juggling bills. Isn’t that fun? Welcome to the adult world. I try not to let bills get to me but when I open my online account it looks like money is literally disappearing. I know I’m preaching to the choir. That’s life.

Yesterday was one of those days. I almost choked to death in the local Applebee’s. Not to mention it happened in front of lots of former students and friends. It’s part of my life now. We had to rush home and I texted Ben, “I’m dying. Get the machines ready. Otw!” My son Ben, who takes care of me, said, “Mom, I could tell it was about to happen before you left for church.” Endearing but sad.

On the way back home struggling not to literally drown on phlegm, I started thinking of how I’m getting tied more tightly to my machines. Oddly I thought of trips I had taken in an ambulatory body. I remembered our miracle New York adventure last winter. The dream state of adventures calmed me as we jetted home in the “Mystery Machine.”

My will to live took a huge blow yesterday. What a way to die? I know we can’t choose. Well Sal the ALS Gal, what are you going to do about it? After being wiped out and exhausted, I started my routine. What did I find? Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who all are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” So, I’m putting on my big girl mumu dress and letting all of my self-pity, bad thoughts, and worries go while I pray. Please pray with me today. Embrace the sun. Enjoy the brisk fall weather.
Sal the ALS Gal lives to roll another day.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the Day:
“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.”
Charles Stanley

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

“O Death, rock me asleep, bring me to quiet rest, let pass my weary guiltless ghost out of my careful breast.”
Anne Boleyn

10 Posts of Hope

Hope delivered in 10 Posts

 

In my mind today, I’m thinking and searching for Hope. As I swim through the world of social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, I’m desperately seeking inspiration. I’m finding despair and dissension. I’m amazed at how many people choose to hate. The ratio of rabble-rousers to peaceful posts are about 10:1. It makes me wonder if most people choose to be “drama llamas” instead of promoting peace. Students, I may be headed toward a political science lesson. Take your fingers out of your ears back row!

This world has much bigger problems that we can focus upon. Let’s list a few: hurricane victims and areas that need rebuilt, earthquake tragedies, the suffering poor in our home towns, the children without proper adults in their lives, drug dependence, pollution, and the lack of support for each other. We can be civil. I know we can. I fear Rules of Civility are being lost in the static of social media. Being civil is a choice and it takes patience.

I hear my back row grumbling, “Should we just keep our mouths shut?” When you speak out of ignorance, yes. The freedom to share our voices is vital. We all need this, but we also need to know that when we infringe on others rights we lose ours rights. When hate enters the picture and others’ rights are neglected or trod upon, our voices nullify themselves.

Americans are blessed with inalienable rights. We believe that everyone has the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Can we learn from our mistakes and promote goodwill towards all regardless of our station in life? Why yes we can! Remember, “Live and Let Live?” In order to be truly free, freedom has to be given in all things. That is tough. Everyone has his or her own social agenda and platform. I just pray it is for Hope and the prosperity for all. Our platforms need to be for cohesion. Do we really want a Disunited States of America? Some rabble-rousers do because their agendas can be passed. Yes, front row I hear you. Just what is right? The only answer I can come up with is “The Golden Rule” or to Love others as you Love yourself.

Today’s assignment students, if you use social media post something about love, hope, or unity for 10 days straight. Why 10? We have 10 Bill of Rights. I’m still teaching here! Back row I’m sure you don’t have social media (in my sarcastic voice) but you still get an assignment even if you don’t. If you really don’t use social media, kudos to you for not being distracted and being irl (in real life!). You still need to join in by giving positive words of love and encouragement. It’s truly exhilarating to help others. Try it. Don’t be judgmental; be charitable. Let’s all be positive and create some Hope! Can you be absolutely positive for 10 days? I sincerely HOPE you can.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to John Locke for penning such idealistic views on social justice.

Quotes of the Day:

“Why can’t we all just get along?”
Martin Lawerence as Martin on the show Martin

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”
Yehuda Berg

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
Jack Layton

“I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

“From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.”
Cesar Chavez

110th Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.
http://www.history.org/almanack/life/manners/rules2.cfm#top

 

 

Early Mornings

Early Mornings

In my mind today, I’m thinking about early mornings. Recently my daughter has been having to arrive at school by 7 am. She’s a junior and has so many responsibilities from Student Council, Model U.N., Journalism, and choir. She’s busy, busy. I’m so very proud of her.

When she has early mornings, the whole house has to wake up with her. My husband is the Ring Leader of our Alley circus. He gets the lift and places me in my chair. Then we roll into the kitchen for medicines, coffee, and breakfast. We talk while Abbey scurries around. Ben, my middle son, then puts me on my “throne.” He and Ken then tag team to clean me up and put me back together in my chair. Sounds like “Humpty Dumpty” but my brokenness can’t be fixed. We then say our goodbyes and I settle into my little nook to read, pray, reflect, and write barring any choking spells.

All in all, we handle our mornings pretty gracefully. I’m so blessed to have a family that wants me here. Sometimes I feel selfish and want it to end so they can be more “normal.” When I become Dismal Sal, they reassure me that they want me here. Once I said, “It’s time for me to fly.” And now when I become somber they say, “Dad, she’s dismal! She’s trying to fly again!” The whole living with ALS is so comedic at times we laugh until we cry. You have to laugh.

The other day I received a wonderful card from an amazing friend. It said, “If I could wave a magic wand…” and it was so endearing. Yes, if we could wave a magic wand a lot of hurts would vanish for sure. Struggles in illnesses would be non-existent. Then I thought, where would our inspiration and gumption to carry on despite donning a bald head from battling cancer or twisting bodies from muscular dystrophies? At our lowest moments, we impact others on an inexplicable level. It propels the human race to be kinder, more understanding, and love more deeply. Our suffering is used for a greater purpose. Many of us battling with diseases and disabilities, embrace our cross and bear it for the good of mankind. Blessings then flow abundantly. Yes, it’s hard living in a broken body but it feels so good to know God uses it for the greater good. That’s all that really matters in the end.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to Delores, LJ, Robert, Tracy, Callie, Peggy, Butch S., Gale, and all those who are inspirations to mankind.

Quotes of the Day:

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
Helen Keller

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
Nelson Mandela

 

Purpose, Service, & Perserverence

Purpose, Serving, & Perseverance

 

 

 

In my mind today, I’m thinking about a speech I was scheduled to give Sunday at the high school I attended and graduated from 30 years ago. The occasion is the Beta Club induction of new members. Back row, have you heard of the Beta Club? That figures. Yes, most of the front row students are in Beta Club. So no rude names please. Yes, they are usually gifted with book sense and natural intellect, but some simply work hard. Many of my back row students have the ability but lack the motivation. With that being said, listen carefully to my speech or at least read it and follow along. Yes that’s an assignment!

Good afternoon students, parents, and faculty. Thank you Class of 2018 for inviting me to speak today. Thirty years ago I graduated from this wonderful, formidable school. However, I find it ironic to be asked to speak to the brightest students today. Thirty years ago my strength was athleticism. As you can see from my appearance, today this is not where my strength and abilities lie. They are similar to that of the new inductees and members of the Beta Club. They are in my mind, spirit, and purpose. Through these, I persevere like a Beta Club member should.

Despite having ALS, my mind is still strong. It is constantly thinking of ways to advocate social justice, promote life-long education, encourage others to help me fight for a cure for ALS, and to spread LOVE in a world that so desperately needs it. My feeble body is still accomplishing my goals because I refuse to let my limitations stop me. I tell people I choose to live not die with ALS. I choose to persevere. I implore not just the Beta Club but all of you here to day to find ways to be bearers of hope and love. It truly is our purpose. Find your purpose.

One way Beta Club finds purpose is through serving in the community. Guess what? We are all called to serve in some shape or fashion as we live our earthly lives. Beta Club is a we not me club. Today inductees, you are brought into the fold of service. Whether you are collecting cans for a food drive, visiting nursing homes, or simply helping fellow students, remember to do so with humility and a grateful heart. You are so blessed to be able to serve and help cultivate goodwill. Embrace it.

Members of Beta Club often have heavy and difficult course loads or curriculums. There will be times when you want to take the easy way and not do your best because face it, you will become tired and overwhelmed. Taking tough courses is a part of your call as a Beta Club member. Why? You were gifted with much and much is expected inside and outside of the classroom. You are called to be the thinkers and leaders. I have faith in you and everyone here does, too. Will you ever fall short? Yes, definitely. As you dust yourselves off and begin again, you will become a little stronger. The fault lies in never getting back up. Older members have many a bump and bruise and can help you find the discernment to fight on. Help each other to persevere.

I’ll end with one of my favorite parables: The sower and the seeds. A farmer sowed his seeds one spring. On the way to the field, some fell on the road and were trampled. Some seeds fell on hard and rocky ground. They tried to sprout but withered. No roots could form. Some seeds were planted among thorns and weeds. They grew but their roots could not get enough nutrients to survive. Lastly, some seed was placed in rich soil. It grew astronomically. The fruit was as numerous as the stars or grains of sand. Guess which seeds you are Beta Club. You are the rich, fertile ground. You can hear and understand what needs done to better the world. You see the tragedy and shortcomings of our human race. We here today are so very proud of you. We know you will embrace your purpose, yearn to serve, and provide goodwill towards mankind with perseverance.
Congratulations and Thank You for giving me the honor and chance to speak.
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to the DHS Beta Club

Quotes of the Day:

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
Pele

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
Marie Curie

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”
Julie Andrews

 

 

Who’s Your Motley Crew

Who’s Your Motley Crew?

In my mind I’m thinking about friends. As I read today, Jesus told the apostles they were not just followers but also his friends. Jesus is still a great teacher, friend, and confidant to me or anyone who needs him. This is the year of our 30th High School Reunion. As I have been in contact with some of my closest friends, I have laughed until I cried just messaging with them. Memories.

All this talk about friends made me think about all the friends in my life. Friends that you can confide in and be yourself around them. In particular this morning I’m thinking of my middle school years. The old HPS Redbirds crew was so dear to me. There was Paula, Dawn, Gina, Jodie, LuAnn, Patrica, Conasaga, Pennye, Barbara, Melissa, Ivy, Shelia, Teresa, Jennifer, Cari, Kim, Tammy, Roxanne, Rodney, Hunter, Duncan, Dewayne, Roger, Robbie G., Artie, Robbie E., Dana, John, George, Shannon, Stacy Ray, Marty, Edward, and Chris. This motley crew was pretty tightly woven throughout our middle school years. Our lives had intertwined in this little rural school called Holice Powell. I can still see us out there when I pass the school. My mind’s eye is clear even though the landscape has changed drastically.

The memories squeeze my heart as I remember this season. Staying all night with friends and then staying up up all night. We stayed on the telephone, talking about our first kisses, parties at each other’s houses, and sneaking off to Fowlkes to “hang out.” We were little country cornflakes, and so innocent. I remember John drawing cartoons that were clouds of dust with feet and arms sticking out. I remember “Fig” and company drawing war scenes and then launching bombs from the paper to blow each other up or scribble them out. I remember the first time I listened in secrecy to the song “Big Balls” by AC/DC with Paula and how she would write the lyrics to songs she liked. I remember the odd cyst on her finger from her writing style. I also remember the long curly toe hairs I had and Paula informed me while laughing hysterically, “Sal, you are supposed to shave your toe hairs, too!” I remember the notes we passed and the stories and characters Dawn, Paula, and I created: Dirty Bert, Fatty Beatrice, Momma, and Rosetta. I remember the lip sync and John went total Angus Young as we played “Let there be rock” by AC/DC. Ms. Weakley gave us the opportunity to shine. I remember break time buying cokes and popsicles. We would sit on the stage and I remember the day John jumped off and ripped his pants. One whole butt cheek was exposed. We laughed hysterically. Robbie G’s Halloween party and those awesome cream puffs his grandmother made and the disappearing antics in the barn. Riding Jodie’s horses and her birthday hayrides. The Halloween Festivals that we had, getting to buy treats that week at school, and the crowning of the king and queen. Football and basketball games were so much fun. I remember the practices especially when Dawn got into a burnout tossing match with the coach. The girls basketball team scrimmaging against the boys team and winning. We had the cheer squad: Melissa, Jennifer, Roxanne, Pennye, Tammy, Kim, & Co. that led us in the “We Will Rock You” stomp during pep rallies. The assemblies when we finally got to be on the top bleacher as 8th graders. We had to coax Teresa up because she was scared of heights. Marty and Edward having huge arm pit hair puffs and mustaches in the 8th grade and Mr. Hummer’s anatomy sex talk with pictures during PE/Health. I also think Marty and Edward were legally eligible to drive in 8th grade. I remember at the 8th grade graduation ceremony and being so nervous and asking “Why did we have to do this?” Ms. Weakley said, “Sarah, this will be the only graduation some of you will get. Some don’t go on to high school.” She was right. Many of our Redbirds dropped out.

Today, I’m thankful for God giving me so many friends and memories of my childhood so I can revisit them. Many have begun their final season in Heaven which helps us all realize the importance of friendships, embracing each day, and counting our blessings. I want to say thank you to my Redbird friends; they remind me of this quote. “It’s the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey” and I do appreciate my school years journey and the friends that were and still are by my side.

In a few weeks, we will all get together and make more memories. I can’t wait! I’m in a wheelchair but I’m still me. Get the karaoke machine ready Class of 1987! Think about your journey today and reach out to your friends of yesteryear. They are only a memory away.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the Day:
“Some balls are held for charity and some for fancy dress.”
AC/DC

“In the beginning
Back in nineteen fifty-five
Man didn’t know about a rock ‘n’ roll show
And all that jive
The white man had the smoltz
The black man had the blues
No one knew what they was gonna do
But Tchaikovsky had the news
He said ….”
AC/DC

“The trouble is you think you have time.”
Buddha

“The purpose of life is life with a purpose.”
Robert Byrne

RIP Rodney, Roger aka “Fig,” Shelia, Conasaga, Teresa, and Robbie G. 💜

Dedicated to the HPS Class of 1983 I salute you.