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

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.

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

DNA

 

DNA

In my mind today, I’m thinking about genetics. We still know very little about the secret of how other living beings are created. We have found some very substantial discoveries in the DNA code but not enough to create a perfect, living being with a soul. The miracle of conception and birth is just that, a miracle.

I remember teaching genetics in science. We had so much fun with punnet squares, hereditary traits, and building DNA models with Twizzlers, colored marshmallows, and toothpicks. The only person that grumbled was Mr. Hobert the janitor because of marshmallows being stomped into the tile floors. Sorry Mr. Hobert! Learning sometimes gets messy. And boy, did we ever learn! The secrets of our chromosomes are definitely intriguing.

I remember having a simple conversation with my brother once and it really stuck with me. You have to understand my brother to get the impact of his comment. My brother is quiet, gentle, kind, intelligent, introspective, and a man of few words. Lots of things about him are oxymorons like he’s small but strong as an ox. He’s very intuitive, but he rarely interjects his opinion. He is to me a Renaissance man crossed with a mountain man. He is truly an enigma. I was admiring his handiwork building flowerbeds for me. He said, “Say, we are all creators because we are made in God’s image.” Just like that he showed amazing humility and comprehension of gifts and talents that are sometimes unexplainable. I thank God for my God gifted brother and his wonderful children.

So, this morning as I’m reading I’m thinking about DNA. Yes, we are such wonderful creatures. We are not only creators but also made to give light, hope, and LOVE. We have within our DNA the ability to be creators of good or evil, vengeance or forgiveness, and love not hate. We need to remember to think before we act and listen twice as much as we speak. (That’s why we have two ears and one mouth back row!) This is a challenge for me because I love to talk.

Miraculously, ALS hasn’t taken my upper motor neurons yet so students I apologize. I will continue to run my mouth, a lot. So let me say one more thing about DNA, “Embrace your DNA. There is no one else like you nor will there every be again. You my students are masterpieces from the Master. Let’s all treat us with that LOVE used to create us.”
Ms. Alley

Dedicated to my brother FWA
Quotes of the Day:
“The spiral in a snail’s shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it’s also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It’s the same ratio that you’ll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world.”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

“With genetic engineering, we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA, and improve the human race. But it will be a slow process, because one will have to wait about 18 years to see the effect of changes to the genetic code.”
Stephen Hawking

“Genes are like the story, and DNA is the language that the story is written in.”
Sam Kean