I Won’t Back Down

I Won’t Back Down!

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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

 

 

Matter, Energy, & Love

Matter, Energy, & Love

 

In my mind today, I’m thinking of science objectives. I loved science as a student. My favorites were biology, chemistry, and natural sciences. The physical sciences were my least favorite, but I grew to love them. My professor Ms. Rena Moss would be so proud. So today students I’m going to review some objectives. Stop grumbling back row. I promise we will do a lab soon.

Let’s get started with Sir Issac Newton. What a thinker? He was born on Christmas Day in 1642 and lived 84 fruitful years. Students, if you hate Calculus then blame it on old Sir Issac Newton. His repertoire includes the following: mathematician, physics genius, explanation of gravity, telescope invention, and Newton’s laws. This is the short list. WOW! Right?

Matter. Back row here’s a question for you, “What happens when we burn a piece of paper? Does it simply vanish? Back row, I’m sure you’ve had experience with some of our homework sheets.” No, there are new materials created: smoke, ashes, and gases. It’s transformed. We, humans, cannot create something (matter) from nothing.

Energy. Okay, let’s list a few types of energy: kinetic, potential, gravitational, electric, magnetic, thermal, and solar. Where does the power for energy come and where does it go? Whether it be from the sun, generators, or the earth’s core, the energy output is always equal to it’s input. Energy is merely transferred. Awesome deduction front row! It cannot be created or destroyed either.

Love. Students do you believe Love is a form of energy? Think about it. A warm hug, a pat on the back, or a genuine smile is energy transferred and cherished. It lasts a lifetime in our memories. It is transferred to others and continues to exist. Love just like matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. It already exists within us. We just need to unleash it and let it flow. Yes back row, that is your assignment so quit the murmuring. Get your smiles and hugs on today! Humans like Sir Issac Newton are rare geniuses. But each one of you are charged with with a special energy and purpose. Time is of the essence.
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to the genius of Sir Issac Newton and the Ultimate Creator

Quotes of the Day:
“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
Sir Issac Newton

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Sir Issac Newton

“Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.”
Alexander Pope

The Worst

The Worst

In my mind and heart today, I’m feeling warm and fuzzy. I was able to spend the whole day with my sweet, strong, loving mother. My Aunt, her loving sister Linda, brought her over, and we had such a wonderful day.

Three years ago my condition worsened greatly. My diaphragm was failing, and I was close to death. I made it through it, but my mother’s mind began to slip. Every time we were together I could literally see her heart break. She couldn’t bear to see her youngest in such a weakened physical state. I was her tomboy that loved the outdoors and every sport imaginable. I chuckle when she tells me Sarah Anne you exercised too much. Ironically, she had lost her baby sister to the same horrible disease. My aunt was only 43 years old. This was such a hard time for our family especially for those sisters and her only son.

As I progress, so does my mom which is the worst. It makes our times together fewer. The logistics for me are hard but as she progresses she becomes less compliant to go on adventures and outings. I’m busily trying to live and advocate for education, social justice, love, and a cure for ALS until I take my last breath which ties up my days. I keep hearing Willie Nelson in my head “Still is still moving to me” as I keep rolling. I know my mom wants me to fight on.

Alzheimer’s is the worst. She is confused easily and her short term memory is shot. When I’m with her, we revisit the past. It’s always full of knee-slapping laughter and occasionally tears. It’s never a disappointment even if we laugh at the same story 20 times. I’m still so blessed by her love and earthly presence. Once after all of her fuzzy-headedness(this is one of her descriptions) started, she told my sister “Judy, I think God is helping me forget so I can deal with Sarah being so sick.” I think she may be on to something.

My mom and I both have bumpy journeys ahead. ALS and Alzheimer’s are really two of the worst fates for any human to bear. I always remind my healthy brain to focus on each minute while trying to prepare for the worst. This has always been my modus operandi with ALS and my advice for others who share my bumpy path. While you are able do these things if you can: handicap your bathroom, find equipment in loan closets, register with the local ALS Chapter, educate your friends and family, and then enjoy each moment one day at a time. The storm is coming and you will encounter many break-downs as you look into the future of living with ALS. It’s very ugly, hard, and expensive. But, I know someone will rather you be here even if it is excruciating at times. Just like my mom keeps reminding me when we talk, “Young lady, you cannot go before me. You are my baby.” I know momma. I know. I’m fighting very hard to stay.
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to all those who live and love through Alzheimer’s.

Quotes of the Day:
“If you learn to listen for clues as to how I feel instead of what I say, you will be able to  understand me much better.”
— Mara Botonis

“We remember their love when they can no longer remember.”
— Unknown

“It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases — one was Alzheimer’s, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer’s.”
— Terry Pratchett