Happy Anniversary

 

Happy Anniversary

In my mind today, I’m thinking about marriage. Today, Ken and I have been married 28 years. We’ve loved and supported one another through peaks and valleys of this life journey. We’ve raised five children and have two wonderful grandchildren. Just like Joe Walsh sings, “Life’s been Good to Me.” It really has.

Ken had two children when we met. I knew by watching him with his children what a wonderful man he truly was. I couldn’t understand how any woman would not treasure him. I’m just so glad they didn’t. I hate he suffered so much heartache and failed marriages, but without those aches I wouldn’t have met the love of my life. Back row, today is an ultra cheesy post so I give you permission to “zone” out.

As a newly wedded couple, we saw no reason to wait on children. I was awfully young, but he already had children and he wasn’t getting any younger. So, we had children. I worked two jobs and went to college part time to finish my degree I had abruptly dropped. He was my biggest fan and insisted although money was tight that I earn my degree. He wanted me to excel and to be educated. What a wonderful man? He’s been my compass. He was heaven sent.

We have truly shared life. The years have blown by and almost all the children are grown. One is in heaven and the youngest is sweet 16. This morning he woke me with, “Happy Anniversary Sweetheart.” What so many don’t understand is that true, lasting love is more than hot sex (the back row is wide awake now) and breathtaking moments. Sure those are a part of it, but I find myself gushing over him because of his beautiful heart. I still blush when I see him. He’s always told me how wonderful and beautiful I am before ALS and after. And what’s even better, I believe him. He’s changed this ugly duckling into a swan ALS and all. Marriage is truly a gift from God.
I love you Ken,

Sal the Old Married Gal

Dedicated to true love. I hope you someday find yours.

Quotes of the Day:
“Cherish not just anniversaries but each given moment.”
Mrs. Sarah Anderson Alley

“True love stories never have endings.”
Richard Bach

“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

When the Saints Go Marching In…

When the Saints Go Marching In…

In my mind today, I’m reading and reflecting on today’s Holy Day: The Feast of All Saints. You ever hear people say, “That person is a Saint!” Well, what makes a Saint?

Everyday I read about a different Saint. It’s part of my morning ritual. These courageous people many times suffered tremendously during their lives. To top it off many times they died gruesome deaths: burning at the stake, disemboweled, quartered at their death and scattered, or crucified upside down. I see the back row woke up with all of these graphic descriptions. The way they died didn’t automatically put them on the list for sainthood. It was the way they continued to live despite the suffering. They constantly sought what was true, right, and justified by God. They were light bearers. They spread hope, joy, and love in the mist of hopelessness. After reading this phrase “saints faced walls but saw them as doors,” made me stop and think how wonderful? What an inspiring frame of mind. When backed into a corner, they didn’t see the walls of terminal diseases, starvation, injustice, abject poverty, or tyranny. They envisioned solutions and lived those solutions never relenting until their deaths. They never feared death because they knew their purpose was bigger. Could you surrender your life for the greater good?

During mass each week we have a time to remember those souls who have gone before us. I have always loved this brief part of our service. I’m able to remember and whisper prayers for family and friends who are on the other side of heaven. I get lost in my mind remembering them and the love I still carry for them in my heart. I imagine they can feel the love emanating from all of us here on earth and they smile because I do. Amazingly we each are given an earthly life that intertwines with so many. I’m excited to see and understand all the connections when I cross over into eternity. Yes back row, I am a bit fruity.

Today, strive to be a Saint. Saints were ordinary people like you and me. It’s not about how much you give, do, or pray. It’s about the way in which you give, do, or pray. It’s about what is in your heart as you give, do, or pray. It’s about a journey of thinking of others before you think of yourselves. It’s about “finding doors” when you are walled in a corner. Back row it’s not about illusions but simply unleashing the magic within our own hearts. Let’s all join in the choir of saints and give of ourselves, do something kind, and pray for each other.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I wanna be a Saint Gal

Dedicated to all of those who have gone before us.

Quotes of the Day:
“I have always wanted to become a saint. Unfortunately, when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by.”
Thérèse of Lisieux

“A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint.”
Albert Schweitzer

“In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized 120 saints of China, 87 of whom were ethnically Chinese. My home church was incredibly excited because this was the first time the Roman Catholic Church acknowledged Chinese citizens in this way.”
Gene Luen Yang

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor.”
Mother Teresa

 

To Do Lists

 

To Do Lists

In my mind today, I’m thinking about to do lists. I am summing up a huge to do list and it feels so good to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I completed to Youth Group Fall Festival and the Autumn March for ALS 2017. I only have thank you cards and shirt deliveries left to do for the Fall Festival and the race. It feels good to check off our lists doesn’t it?

Remember I’m Sal the Busy Gal and have already begun a new list of Winter and Fall things I want to accomplish. Winter is tough on an ALS Gal. The scariness of getting sick and punching my card for heaven is always looming during flu and pneumonia season. Most PALS(People with ALS) make their final exit in this way. I push that out of my mind and live one day at a time. It’s the best way to live. I find joy in each day I’m given. My goals besides staying alive this winter are to paint more, write seriously on my projects to publish, and start reading once a week with children. Serving projects are Operation Shoebox, doing a painting project with the Union Mission kids, and working with the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen. Whew!

Today, I’m reflecting back over the race and the outpouring of love I felt. It’s an uber hectic time for me, but one full of such beauty. Seeing all of the families, runners, and children shows me that God is still in the middle of my fight. He was there everywhere.

The Fall Festival was changed last minute and I was worried that it would flop. God showed up yesterday, too. It was lunch with our church family. The children were all bustling around and playing games manned by the older kids. The food turned out fantastic. The arms and legs serving and cleaning were outstanding. It was a wonderful day. Everyone that stayed enjoyed themselves and it made me so very happy.

Here’s my lesson today students: God shows up in all of our lives. He is there whether we notice Him or not. Look at your to do lists. Make sure you invite God along on your adventures. After you check it off your list, you will be able to look back and see where His presence touched each moment.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the To Do List Gal

Dedicated to The Alley Alliance and Holy Angels Youth Group.

Quotes of the Day:

“If you’re like me, I get hooked into to-do lists, you know. I’ll say I checked that off. Okay, I did that. And you have all these things you’re doing.”
Jeff Bridges

“One thing I’ve tried to never do is make wish lists. I try to have a very steppingstone mentality about this whole thing, where as soon as you make one step you visualize the next step, not five steps ahead.”
Taylor Swift

 

“I don’t see anyone for the first hour and a half that I’m awake. I don’t like to talk, and I don’t like to hear any sounds. People know not to bother me! I use that time to read, and make lists and notes of things I have to do later in the day.”
Robert Wilson
This is me, too!!!

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