Crushes

 

Crushes

In my mind today, I’m thinking about crushes. Take a moment to reflect back in time. I had huge crushes on “The Fonz” and John Travolta as a teenager. I also had crushes in high school. Do you remember your first crush or first love? Often a crush if mutual becomes a first love. Sometimes they sustain the stress of high school and college. The couple will then wed and start the adult season together. Sometimes it works but not often. My high school graduating class had several that made their first love last and are still together thirty years later. Even our oldest daughter has a successful marriage and life with her high school sweetheart. Kudos to them! They are the exceptions.

First crushes sometimes falter before they even start. It’s still heart-breaking. I’m Sal the Melancholy Gal today because my youngest is so innocent and about to enter the world of crushes, first relationships, and disappointments. As I watch and talk with her about this chapter, my heart breaks. She so needs me more than I ever thought. If you know our “Chuck,” she’s a pretty special gal. She is searching desperately for a knight in shining armor. She wants to date and experience this season. She has very high standards. She’s mature and confident in who she is. Sadly, she’s finding out most people her age are not. Peer pressure has reared its ugly head. She’s realizing people change according to whom they are with at the time. Peer pressure. Most of the teenagers are like chameleons. The skin you’re in depends on the clique you are around. It’s the worst. Here’s the saddest part, it happens in every season of life. I didn’t realize being comfortable and confident in your own skin was such a rarity. But ah, it is. My girl is cursed like her mother of being true to herself. Marching to a beat that is original to you.

We’ve always had a nightly ritual. I used to climb the stairs and snuggle her each night. We would read, talk, and write. We would do a breathing treatment for her asthma and fall asleep snuggled together. When climbing the stairs wasn’t an option anymore, the snuggle-fest was moved to my room. The roles have reversed. We sling me in bed and place my bi-pap mask on my face. After the boys hug and kiss us goodnight, the snuggle-fest commences. We talk and I listen to my girl’s struggles with academics, projects, and trying to survive socially in high school. I could tell she had been crying last night and my heart broke. Why does high school have to be so complicated?

As we talked, I remembered my high school years. I remembered how awkward crushes were and your heart being broken. When you have guy friends and you think, “Hey, he likes me!” Then that super, pretty popular girl arrives and you are dropped like a hot potato. Even worse, the guy says, “Will you ask (fill in the blank) out for me?” You say sure when you want to scream, cry, and run all at the same time. I can’t begin to tell you how many times this happened to me. Watching my girl endure it has made my heart ache.

The thing that I have to remind her of is that this will pass. Keep your head up. Keep being “you” and good things will happen. Everything as a 16 year old is magnified times a billion. Like Taylor Swift sings, “Shake it Off.” I’m so glad I’m still here for her as I realized she still needs me whether I’m Sal the Broken Down Gal or not. This precious time has been granted to us. I thank God every single day for this time with my children.

The first words of my devotion this morning were, “Come to Me when you are hurting and I will soothe your pain. …..I have called you to live differently from the world—to depend on Me to meet all your needs. That’s where you’ll find true confidence and strength. Let Me be your everything. I am all you need.” And then I cried. I cried because I had been carrying that pain for her as she struggles through her awkward teenage years. I cried because I wanted her to be happy. I cried when I realized she was doing the right thing. I cried because I was relieved that she would always be taken care of even if I’m not here.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Tearful Gal

Dedicated to:
Patrick & Libby
Scott & Amy
Don & Andi
Artie & Pennye
Alan & Stephanie

Quotes of the Day:
“It’s like trying to describe what you feel when you’re standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child. You have to be there to really know what it’s like.”
Jack Schmitt

“Memory has always fascinated me. Think of it. You can recall at will your first day in high school, your first date, your first love.”
Eric Kandel

“First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.”
George Bernard Shaw

“When everything happens to you when you’re so young, you’re very lucky, but by the same token, you’re never going to have that same feeling again. The first time anything happens to you – your first love, your first success – the second one is never the same.”
Lauren Bacall

“First crushes are properly named. That’s exactly what happens to your heart when the white knight you see evolves into a troll.”
Sarah Anderson Alley

 

Thumper!!!

Thumper!!!

In my mind today I’m thinking about social media, the Internet, and technology. I’m ever so thankful today. I opened up my social media feed this morning and they were all are full of prayers and positive vibes. This gave me hope that in our space and time we can flip the script.

We can spread love and blanket the evil that invades our minds each time we open up social media. Face it. Twitter, FB, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google have become a forum for Americans and most of the industrialized world. Ignoring it is not effective. We now have to use it to spread faith, hope, and love. It shouldn’t be the face of dissension.

Social media can be a cohesive tool to bring positive ideas and people together. When I taught I would ask my students many times, “What did Thumper’s father tell him?”

This applies to us on all types of levels. Social media used by rabble rousers just puts us against each other. As a history teacher, I know that at the heart of all change in this country love has resided. That understanding among the common men and women has created our country into a country of hope. We need unity in our country. That’s the only way we will give hope and ensure hope for the future. Hope for good, affordable healthcare for all, a higher minimum wage and benefits for those who work, students getting degrees without drowning in debt, and education systems directed by seasoned educators not politicians and testing companies. These are just a few on my wish list.

Let’s take the gloves off Americans. We are not each other’s adversary. We are allies to spread hope. I feel most are like me. We want a government that works for us as problem solvers. Not spending time calling for donations to keep them in office. They should not be in any position of government because they have the largest fundraising or banking account. They should be there because they have the biggest hearts for ALL Americans from the homeless to the billionaires. Here’s a thought, let them work for minimum wage and get their own healthcare. Most have been economically successful, right? Maybe I’m way off base. In my little corner of the USA common, everyday Americans are genuinely good. We want to have a family, a way to provide and feed that family, a two-car garage with dependable cars, a retirement fund, and good educations for our kids. Am I right?

I will not look at media and believe all the doom and gloom. Yes it’s out there, but there’s so much more good going on in our communities. Let’s all hit the “share” button on the good.

Sal the Political Gal

PS
I’m not endorsed by anyone. I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Independent, etc. Everyone has a moral compass. Doing what is right has no political affiliation, but maybe one of the Divine sort.

Dedicated to the common, simple, everyday Americans

Quotes of the Day:
“When terrorists attacked the symbols of our national unity and strength, they failed to realize that they were just symbols of our strength. The real strength of our nation comes from our people – not our buildings.”
Michael Enzi

“It is important for people to be able to read all sides of every question; for a feeling of national unity does not come from one-sided or inadequate information, but from a sense of freedom impartially secured and of opportunity equalized by a just government.”
Jeannette Rankin

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
Mattie Stepanek

“Where there is unity there is always victory.”
Publilius Syrus

Wired, Hope, & Hearts

 

Wired, Hope, & Hearts

In my mind today I’m thinking about being wired, “Hoping against Hope,”and eyes of the heart. Having a disease like ALS, I have to be “wired” most of the time. My devotion today suggested I unplug. I chuckled as I was reading it on my iPhone. My hands are too weak to hold a physical book and use paper and pen. My modus operandi is reading and pecking away on my phone. Sadly, this too is going to end eventually. Don’t cheer back row, because some earthly angels have gifted me with a Dynavox: a device where I use my eyes to type and communicate. So, hopefully my blogging, teaching, and writing will go on a bit longer. I hear moaning back there! So Sal the Wired Gal still needs to zone out occasionally without these electronic devices and so do you. Yes, here’s your first assignment of the day: pick a small block of time and turn off your phone, tablet, lap top, or PC. I used to sometimes spend my lunches or planning periods at school alone in my room in the dark. I would begin praying, meditating, and often times sleeping. I do that now every day sometime between 8 AM and 11 AM. You know what? It recharges me. Front row, you caught that pun didn’t you? Yes back grow, this is a grade.

My phrase of the day is “Hoping against Hope.” In the Alley family, we’ve had and continue to have a lot of “Hoping against Hope” scenarios. It has been a harrowing past few months. My husband crashed in the ER and was slowly brought back from a vent. A dear niece of mine almost lost her life to lung disease. My great-nephew endured a traumatic, life threatening head injury. My older brother is on the brink of self-destruction with addiction issues. My dear mother continues to decline mentally with Alzheimer’s. Of course, I continue to fight ALS. This all seems surreal. It’s sounds like a Lifetime movie and fiction. It’s simply life. Just like the quote from Ian Maclauren, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is ever so true. We are all “Hoping against Hope.” I hear you asking, “Ms. Alley, how can we continue on? It all seems so hopeless.” Ah, but “Hoping against Hope” is not hopeless and here’s your second assignment. Use your prayers and petitions to summon a miracle. Right now after reading this, whisper a prayer for something you feel hopeless about. Ask for guidance. Unplug yourself and listen. Remember I’m a teacher at heart. I’m tying this lesson together. There’s always Hope. It’s one of the big three: Faith, Hope, and Love.

I’ll end with eyes of the heart. I stumbled across this or it was planted in my mind the other day: eyes of the heart. I thought to myself how beautiful? Back row I see you looking perplexed picturing a heart with literal eyeballs on it. It’s so much deeper than that. I think looking at problems, people, and situations with your heart is something of divinity. When as a mere human, we begin to seek and to see with a humble, all encompassing heart then we are literally in the heart of our maker. I know I’m getting a bit cheesy here but let me share this quick story. During mass one Sunday, I had an epiphany. As I prayed, looked at the crucifix, and took communion, I realized God had escaped my heart. I was now being carried inside of His heart. Yes, back row Ms. Alley is a bit Cuckoo. I had the realization that I was free from ALS. I was now being carried through this earthly life for something greater. People always ask, “How do you do all that you do?” Well this is the answer. I now look with God’s heart as I roll around in my wheelchair. He moves me, puts people in my life to assist me, and carries me through each adventure. Eyes of the Heart.

Last assignment I promise. Today when you unplug, “Hope against Hope, and look with your heart, smile because you have been given another day to make the world a better place. Be grateful for the good and the bad. Each day is a new beginning to begin anew. If you are reading this, you have a purpose to fill and jobs yet to do. Get out there! Go in Peace to love and serve others.
Sal the Spiritual Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the Day:

“Hope against hope, and ask till ye receive.”
James Montgomery

 

“I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
Jesus Christ

Invasion of the Body Parts

Invasion of the Body Parts

In my mind today I’m still scattered and all over the place. I’ve been Sal the Busiest Gal. I’m so glad my arms and thumbs are letting me write today. I’ve been so tired just trying to hold my head up and just drive this scoot. I’ve missed all of you!

I’m still reeling from a great Saturday on the downtown square raising awareness through the Autumn March for ALS. We survived all the glitches and managed to have a day of love and laughter. Not to mention being surrounded by so many kids. A teacher’s dream is to see healthy kids having fun, exercising, and inspiring all of us to join together and fight for better days for everyone especially them. They are the ones who will be the light bearers. We desperately need to teach them well. Sal the Show-tunes Gal is singing Crosby, Stills, & Nash in her mind as I type and reflect.

Back row students, you are going to love this. This morning I read about body parts that cause us to sin. Go ahead and get your snickers, snorts, and giggles out. What does this make us think of? Yes, back row, the horizontal boogie. Let’s move forward. I hear you thinking hands can steal, fists can hit, tongues can lie, even brains think evil thoughts. Sexual sins are bad, but our other body parts can do just as much or more damage. So as we strive to make the world a better place, let’s use all of our body parts for good. Yes, back row even those parts!

Let’s all put our thinking hats on today. Use your tongue to spread kind words. Find a soup kitchen and use your hands to serve. Unfurl your fists and fold them to pray for those suffering through cancer treatments, terminal diseases, financial burdens, depression, abuse, tragic accidents, addictions, and loneliness. Use your legs to run or walk in a benefit race. Use that brilliant mind to solve the little local problems around you. Look with your eyes and find those who need a kind gesture. Let’s not forget to open our big hearts and accept those around us warts and all. You see, the time is now. Stop holding back and join the fight to help good overcome evil. I am such a busy Gal. I’m going to roll on until I’m on the other side. ALS has taught me so much about real priorities in this earthly life. God is Good all the time even in our struggles. Heck, He’s the MVP if we just put him in the game. Try it!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Dedicated to my Alley Alliance

Quotes of the Day:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Ian Maclauren

“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
Swami Vivekananda

“My strong belief is that God created human beings and therefore he knows about every aspect of the human body. So if I want to fix it, I just need to stay in harmony with Him.”
Ben Carson

“All parts of the human body get tired eventually – except the tongue.”
Konrad Adenauer

 

Disappointments

Disappointments

In my mind today, I’m thinking about missing my 30 year high school reunion. I have been pumped up for months about going and having a good time. As this weekend approached, so did a lot of other obligations and life happenings. I learned from a coach once not to ever make excuses, so I’m not. The stars did not align, so I missed it.

I was able to make it to the football game and enjoy seeing a few high school friends and former students. I drove by the after party but didn’t get out. My lungs were screaming and my body was craving my bed. I thought I would just go home and rest all day so I could join in the festivities Saturday. All I needed was my lungs suctioned and rest. This is what I kept telling and reassuring myself.

After realizing I was not going to make the dinner and dance, I became angry, sad, and depressed. I turned into Dismal Sal. Why? Reality stepped into my mind. With my fragile health, I may not see the next reunion. I was livid because ALS is trying to consume me and I’m fighting so hard. An outing with ALS takes a lot out of me, but even more so for my caregivers.

Fatigue hits me each day around five o’clock like a steam roller. No matter how much I rest or try to out last it, it comes over me like a heavy fog. I just want to be still covered in blankets using my bi-pap so I don’t struggle to breathe. When my family gathers at nine o’clock downstairs to put me in bed, a part of me is beginning to rejoice because of the stiffness coupled with little pains from pressure points on my bottom. Sorry back row, I’m just being literal and didn’t mean to give you a visual. I’m writing this so I can get it off my chest and move forward.

C’est la vie with ALS. DHS Class of 1987 I hope to see you all in 2027. I hope the stars will align. If they don’t, I’ll catch you on the flip side. I still have lots of memories and plan on making quite a few more. I quote The Bard of Avon, “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to the DHS Class of 1987
Thanks especially to Michelle, Amy, & Taylor for all of their organizational efforts

Quotes of the Day:
“It takes a certain amount of guts to go to your class reunions”
Dick Cavett

“I was the guy who was friends with everybody. Yes, I had my core group of friends, but I wasn’t part of a clique that excluded people. I hope they thought I was a nice guy. I tried to be just friendly and outgoing. I was class president. I’m supposed to run my class reunion in 2013.”
Austin Stowell

“”I am the type of guy that has always been the same all of my life. My classmates at our class reunion always say the same thing. They could not believe that, being a world artist, I still seem like I was when we were at school together.”
Percy Sledge

Longer

Longer

In my mind today I’m exhausted. I’ve been jetting all over in my wheelchair since Sunday. I may be Sal the ALS Gal but I’m not giving in until I burn completely out. I hear my loved ones and even the back row saying, “Slow down Ms. Alley. You look so tired. Your breathing is labored. You’re swelling all over. We need you here longer.” Yes, longer is what we want especially in dire situations.

Sunday was mass, meal with the family, watching ball games, and reading. Monday was meetings of the Tween bookclub and race organizers gathering to tweak the Autumn March for ALS. Tuesday was soliciting money and prizes for the Autumn March for ALS 2017. Wednesday was visiting the ALS Clinic and my sweet great nephew at Le Bonheur who is fighting for longer, too. So, today I really need to rest and try to get my fluid levels in check. It gives me a chance to read, reflect, and write. And this feeds my soul and gives me life. Longer.

Reading about prayers this morning and how some are answered in the way we want and when other prayers are answered differently, we feel jilted. Yesterday at the ALS Clinic I heard the lock click and open slightly. People who know me and who have loved ones affected by ALS have been pleading for help with this horrible disease have an option to help their loved ones. It’s the first drug offered in 20 years. The neurologist yesterday asked would I consider trying a new infusion drug that has become available FDA approved. It is Radicava. It has shown to give some improvements in mobility and slowed the progression of ability loss. If you’ve seen me dining out with my family or friends, I know you’ve noticed eating is very hard. My husband and friends are starting to help and feed me. My arms are becoming too atrophied and very tired to feed myself. As an example, this drug could slightly could improve my strength and slow the deterioration. My weakened diaphragm and pulmonary function can be improved and sustained. It’s an answered prayer or a door opened according to my readings today. My children are young and I know they need me here. Longer.

After receiving this news, I signed or scratched my name on the paperwork. We headed across town to see my great nephew, niece, and sister. When I saw Kyler lying there broken, tears emerged. I would have given the rest of my vitality and allow him to jump up and start asking his crazy questions, jump on my wheelchair wanting to go on an adventure, roll in the yard with his dogs, or start a burn pile with his Peepaw Butch. He laid still breathing. I only wanted to hold his hand and pray.

The warmth from his little fingers gave me hope of better days. My eyes closed as I prayed searching for the Holy Spirit to fill us. I’m being bold and I’m asking for that high spirited, handsome young man to wake up and say, “Momma, Nanna what’s going on? I’m ready to go play. Hey Nonna, am I going be getting off the bus at your house this week? Dad, thanks for being here. Kenny, let’s go fishing! Misty, I’m ready to see Lex and play remote control cars with Uncle Josh and the boys. Let me hold Avy Lynn and play with Audrey Belle and Andi Kate today. Can I PLEEEESE stay with Nanna tonight? Momma, can you rock me?” Yes, I know prayers can be answered. I know Kyler is strong and a fighter. I believe in miracles.

As one prayer is being answered for Sal the ALS Gal, I’m not giving up on our Miracle for Kyler. He’s stable but critical. The journey to complete recovery may be long or short. There are so, so many on deathbeds, have terminal illnesses or chronic diseases, and mental illnesses from schizophrenia to addictions that need to be here longer for their loved ones. Longer so they can love them and seek a miracle. Don’t be shy. Seek and you can find a miracle. Ask and the door can be opened. Pray for longer.
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to the Wesley Neurology Clinic, Kyler Doolin, and all of us praying for longer.

Quotes of the Day:
Luke 11:5-13
Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
C.S. Lewis

 

 

Harvest Time

Harvest Time

In my mind today, I’m thinking about harvest time. It’s that time of year. The days are shorter. The morning are cooler. There’s a hint of coolness in the air. Farmer’s harvest the fruit from their fields. It’s a time for being thankful.

While reading this morning, a writer compared us to being God’s fruit for his harvest. It’s hard when we want to dictate the best time to be harvested and taken on our eternal adventure. Most agree a ripe old age is the best time. Looking at the world around me, I see that that’s not how things work out. Mass killings, natural disasters, and mere tragic accidents fill our lives. The harvest isn’t only the old but sadly so many young are reaped as well hence the Grim reaper.

How can we make peace with our life clock? We can become worriers, germaphobes, hypochondriacs, or dooms day preppers. How many lives do we save or years do we add? That clock within us still ticks away.

A dear friend dropped by today to help with a gift for my niece and great nephew. We discussed this crazy life of uncertainties. What we came up with is this: our main purpose on earth is to love and care for each other in any way every single day we get. Simple. Live to serve others sounds so foreign when you look at what a mess the world is in. We can be the game-changers if we only will take up our crosses for spreading hope and love. Yes, our life clocks are ticking. The clamor of your good deeds can drown out the ticking as your time of harvest draws nigh.

Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to Autumn

Quotes of the Day:

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.
Jens Stoltenberg

My sorrow, when she’s here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane.
Robert Frost