Addiction

Addiction


In my mind today, I’m thinking about addiction. Addiction is when you forsake everything for something you desire. Regardless of the harm you inflict on others, the acquisition is all that matters.

Recently the kids and I were talking about a popular tv series that has a notorious alcoholic as the protagonist. My IV Specialist was here and she watches the same series. I asked her if she had a “Frank” in her family. She said, “Gosh, no!” I was astounded. Heck, my family and my husband’s have at least one “Frank” and multiples in some generations. Addiction is hereditary.

Last night as I was trying to go to sleep I kept thinking about addictions. I love watching documentaries and biographies. In grade school my favorite books were biographies. Anyway in a documentary I watched the other day a famous musician had to move to another country to escape the cocaine culture and create music with a clear mind. He had been so “high” for years he had become numb to living in reality. Numb. That’s the word that kept turning over and over in my mind as I wished for sleep to come last night. Addiction numbs you. One doesn’t want to deal with the trappings of life or doesn’t know how to deal with real life situations. The past sometimes prompts you to search for something to mask the pain. The pain must never surface lest you risk feeling. It’s so, so sad that people want to be numb. The musician began again, but this time he could “feel.” He experienced life even heartbreak but it steeled him. He released an amazing album. Out of his stupor, he grew. At the end of his life dying with a excruciating cancer, he didn’t enjoy the “highs” of his medication. He wanted to feel every minute of life he had left. He had conquered addiction.

In a reflection I read it clarified addictions so well. It actually gave insight to the mindset of a person addicted. As I read it I thought, “What a great blog this would make? Addiction.” So many of us today are touched by chemical addiction. Heroine is making a huge comeback. It’s creeping from urban areas to little burgs like mine. Opioids, hydros and pain meds, are recking havoc in our families. I’m praying the “meth” phase is dwindling amongst our population, but sadly it’s becoming more prevalent. Addiction. It is exhausting and heart wrenching when people you love are numb. The addicted continue to deceive not only us but also themselves. Most addicted people feel they are doing great. They use the blame game when cornered or the “At least I’m not like ________, they are doing ________ which is so much worse than me.” Sound familiar? I hope not for your heart’s sake. There’s only one way to truly heal from an addiction. Allow yourself to feel and deal with what drives your pain and thirst to be numb. Then allow something greater to fill your heart and fuel your spirit. That something is God. I pray you’re fortunate to never have to deal with addiction. If you do, know it is in God’s hands.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the End Addiction Gal

Quotes of the Day:

“But they are living on a fundamental self-deception which nothing could cure except the extraordinary advent of God’s love and forgiveness.”
Fr. Herbert McCabe, God, Christ and Us

“Ashes to ashes,
funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low”
David Bowie

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”
Carl Jung

“Addiction is a hugely complex and destructive disease, and its impact can be simply devastating. All too often, lives and families can be shattered by it.”
Kate Middleton

“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.”
Patrick J. Kennedy

 

Snow Days

Snow Days

In my mind, I’m thinking about snow days. In my healthy, ambulatory life as a teacher, I lived for snow days! Last night as our little burg buzzed about the cancellation of school, a part of Sal the Snow Day Gal was giddy. When the alert dinged my phone informing us about the cancelling of school, I was ecstatic! This morning after my husband was ready for work he came to my side of the bed, jerked off the covers, and raised my head with the remote. I fuzzily opened my eyes and said, “Why are you waking me up? There’s no school. It’s a snow day.” For a brief moment I had forgotten I was Sal the ALS Gal. I was going to relish an icy, cold day sleeping in and the romping in the snow with my kids, friends, and dogs. Then, I remembered. I have to get up every day at 6 AM because that’s the routine for Sal the ALS Gal: up, meds, coffee and toast, potty, suction my lungs, back in my chair, read, pray, and write. This happens every day but Saturday. On Saturday I get to sleep until around 10 AM.

Don’t you love snow days? I hear the back row mumbling for me to zip it because I’m ruining their snow day! Since you’re already awake, let’s talk a bit. This morning the story I read was about the paralytic that was lowered through the ceiling so Jesus could heal him. It doesn’t mention this paralytic man having great faith. Who was full of faith? That’s right front row students, his friends knew if they could just get their crippled friend to Jesus, he would be healed. I hear you asking, “Was he healed?” Yes, students, he was. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven. Rise, take your mat, and walk.” The point is we all need “faith-full” friends. Friends that know your struggles and have faith God is fighting with you. Sal the ALS Gal has so, so many faith-full friends and for that I’m so blessed.

I joke with my children that I need tire chains for my scoot (wheelchair) on days like this. Man, I could really cut up on this snow and ice if I did. Sal the Fast & the Furious Gal I would definitely be! Vin Diesel who? Of course you have a lesson on this snow day! What kind of teacher do you think I am? Today, get out there! Get out of the digital world! No video games or tv until you do at least three of these assignments. Here they are! Take your fur babies on a hike in the woods. Go sledding with your children and friends. Drink lots of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. Make a snow angel. Make and eat snow cream. Hey, snow days are for FUN! These are some of Sal the Snow Day Gal’s favorites. What are you waiting for? Bundle up and get out there!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I LOVE Snow Days Gal

Dedicated to all those who love snow! Especially, the Snow Queen of West Tennessee, Ann Carson.

Quotes of the Day:

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”
John Ruskin

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”
Andy Goldsworthy

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder.”
Susan Orlean

 

For Heaven’s Sake

For Heaven’s Sake

In my mind today, I’m thinking of Heaven. You know the polar opposite is Hell. Quit snorting and giggling back row. Yes, I said Hell. When I found out my timeline was going to be drastically shorter than what I expected, I started reading and researching Death and Heaven. I read several books about people who had literally died and been revived. I read books by hospice workers who had experienced people leaving this earthly chapter. My kids thought I was a bit touched in the head and morbid when I discussed my latest book at the supper table. What I found was a common thread of weightlessness, bliss, light, angels, and seeing people who had crossed over sometimes years ago.

Are people just fantasizing? I really don’t think so. There are just too many experiences to explain it all away. I remember in one book the author entered in a place of bright light with the most amazing music and welcoming people but then was told, “It’s not your time. You have to go back.” He was jolted back to earth in a shattered and disabled body. He wasn’t happy about it but eventually saw the purpose for staying earthbound hence his book.

One book I read was written by a hospice nurse. She had been comforting people as they crossed over for more than 30 years. In most of her cases, the person saw angels or people from their past before crossing over. She developed a sixth sense of when death was near.

Can you imagine seeing an angel or multitudes of them? What about seeing loved ones of long ago? Think about seeing God the creator. Wow! What a feeling that would be.

Can you imagine heaven? I can and do often. In church on Sunday, I do. I close my eyes, listen to the music, hear all the people proceeding to the altar for communion, and envision heaven. Just like mass, there will be beautiful music as we all process toward God. All shapes, sizes, and colors of people. It’s beautiful. Usually tears start falling because for those precious minutes after I receive communion, my mind and heart are lifted to heaven. I know there’s more.

I know my students are ready to call the paddy wagon to come take Sal the Mediation Gal off to the “Cuckoo’s Nest.” So, is there more? Is there a heaven? Yes, that’s your assignment today: ponder Heaven. It’s for you to decide if Heaven exist, but for heaven’s sake I hope you do.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Seeking Heaven Gal

Quotes for the Day:
“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
Jules Renard

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”
George Bernard Shaw

“I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to Heaven, and I will look down on my beautiful life.”
Yayoi Kusama

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
C. S. Lewis

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Jesus Christ

Two of the many books I read about 5 years ago:
Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey by Trudy Harris

90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Dan Piper

Adversity

Adversity

In my mind today I’m thinking of adversity. If you’re human, you will have times of adversity. Let’s define adversity: difficulties, misfortune, sorrow, suffering, hardship, woe, and pain. Wow! So many synonyms for one word. I could go on and on. Adversity has no discretion. It can ruin the best of days. It will pop up any place: home, work, church, school, or playgrounds. It could be a health, personal, financial, or spiritual crisis. I know back row students, Ms. Alley sounds like a “Debbie Downer.” It’s true, but there are many lessons and blessings in adversities.

No, I’m not off of my rocker in 2018. During my lesson for Sunday School, we talked about resolutions and making goals for ourselves. We looked at health, academic, personal growth, and relationships. Goals are great. It took a while for Sal the Nutty Professor Gal to realize this in her own life. Goals are things we strive to accomplish in our lives. The key word is strive because old adversity pops up even when we have the best of intentions. What we learn through our struggles is persistence, humility, and gumption. This is our lesson for today. Yes, plans go awry, but we have to find our center and rise above it. So be thankful for adversity.

Each Sunday in class we read about a Saint. Sal the Fruity Teaching Gal calls this the “Saint of the Week!” I get excited reading about saint’s lives because it never ceases to amaze me how they turn such horrendous adversity into something good. This week we read about Thomas Merton. He’s a controversial and colorful saint. He was tested and tried continually about his contemplative thoughts about God. He was a person who thought “out of the box.” This concerned many leaders in the Catholic faith. I admire him because he had gumption, persistence, and humility. He never quit his faith. He knew there was more meaning and purpose for the human life regardless of naysayers. I feel that, too. Even my own children question my faith because of the hand I’ve been dealt with my health. They are still angry at times, but I know God uses everything even terminal illnesses for some type of good. I think the hardest thing in the world is truly letting go and letting God use you. Humans want to control their own destinies. All we can do is try to do more good than harm in our gifted earthly lives.

Before we go, the back row knows what I’m going to say and yes you’re right! Here’s your assignment. Think about you life and strife. Then, find a way to react in a positive way to the hand you’ve been dealt. No troubles at the moment? Lucky you! Now, find a way to give a blessing to the humans who are struggling. We are a team of humans. There is no us versus them. This is it. WE have to work together to be the helpers, healers, and hosts of the true light of the Holy Spirit. Remember adversity is a wonderful teacher. Are you teachable?

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Embrace Adversity Gal

Dedicated to all of those who support Sal the ALS Gal through prayers, friendship, medical bills, and love. You want me here longer and for that I’m so humbled.

Quotes of the Day:
All by Thomas Merton
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”

“We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others.”

 

 

Blessings

Blessings

In my mind today I think of the many blessings I’m given. God shows up through the people in my life daily. Sal the Feeble Gal realizes no man or woman is an island.

Remember your first car? I certainly do. I remember working in a restaurant the summer before my junior year. I was saving for my first “hooptie.” And a “hooptie” it was! I was thrilled. This year we were contemplating getting our youngest a car, but with our current situation it didn’t seem possible. That’s when many blessings occurred. A long time friend who owns a car lot worked her magic for us. She and I were reunited by working together on the Autumn March for ALS this year. She took care of everything and voila! She delivered the car Christmas Eve with tags and nothing to pay but what our credit union gave us. This was such a tremendous blessing. I could never thank this little burg enough from Dyersburg Glass to friends. Blessings.

The Friday before Christmas, I had a port inserted. My ALS treatments were to begin the day after Christmas. Being selected and approved for this new innovative treatment was a miracle and blessing all rolled into one. The initial treatment is an infusion for 14 days straight, two weeks off, and then 10 consecutive days. This pattern will repeat for as long as I’m on earth. The I.V. Specialist trained my son and so it begins. Guess what? My hands are stronger. I’ve had a couple productive coughs which haven’t happened in two years. I am breathing deeper. My neck is stronger. I wiggled my right toe. Much to my husband’s chagrin, my hands are lasting longer on the iPad games. He says I put the death grip on it at bedtime because I’m like a kid with my curfew. Look at all of these blessings!

With blessings, sometimes hiccups occur. With this medicine, my private insurance is paying but Medicare refused to pick up the remaining 30%. It cost approximately $160,000 per year. Each treatment is $1,000. So, I’ve had $8,000 worth thus far. I have a friend who owns a restaurant and is going to put percentage of the profits one Sunday a month toward my medical costs. I am so very blessed.

Each one of you who read my blog and give me hope are such blessings. You encourage me to fight for more days. You encourage me to believe there is good in the world and to promote goodwill. I can never thank all of you enough for the blessings that you are. You kindle my spirit. Thank you for loving Sal the Cheesy Gal.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Blessed Gal

Dedicated to my friends, “Cousin Eddie,” Dyersburg Glass, Los Lomas, ALS Secret Santas, The Ice Bucket Challenge, Autumn March for ALS, Alley Alliance,  & Johnson Motor Company

Quotes of the Day:

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.”
Lawrence Welk

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”
John Wooden

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

In my mind today I’m thinking of all of the blessings of 2017 and how things have changed from my childhood. Remember as a child how the 2000’s seemed otherworldly? They seemed so distant as we envisioned a world like The Jetsons. We’ve yet to have flying cars, but we have rumbas, drones, and FaceTime which are amazing when I think of my techno-free childhood.

My family certainly wasn’t the jet-set. We had an antenna for tv and seven tv channels. One of those was PBS. I think I’m the only one that couldn’t live without it, and it’s still one of my favorite channels. Go ahead back row and call me a geek. Mr. Rogers taught me how to deal with kids like you. Now, kids watch tv on their phones. Remember favorite tv shows that we all gathered to watch? The only time we could watch cartoons was Saturday mornings. If you slept late, you missed out.

What about having one phone jack and one phone in the entire house? I was envious of friends that had phones in their bedrooms. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it? Phones were for function and not so much for entertainment. I remember waiting anxiously by the phone for that person I was crushing on to call so my parents wouldn’t embarrass me or interrogate them if someone of the opposite sex called. Just like Archie and Edith sang, “Those were the days.”

It makes me wonder what will kids today look back on and feel nostalgic about when they reminisce? Are things today worse or not as fun or are we not as connected as days gone by? Are we all freaking out? Yes, there is a lot of disparity, but I also see so much good. There are many organizations and individuals working for people struggling in the middle of the healthcare gap crisis, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, neglected children, better environmental choices, and natural disaster relief. And we aren’t giving up or stopping. Why? The good anyone does reverberates and multiplies no matter how minuscule the deed. 2018 here I come. Sal the New Year Gal is brimming with ideas to promote goodwill toward all. Join me.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the 2018 Gal

Dedicated to Matthew 25:40, Salvation Army, Union Mission, McIvers Grant Public Library, Dyersburg City Schools, and Dyer County Schools

Quotes of the Day:

“I just believe in the goodwill of people, the power of people to do something positive.”
Eddie Izzard

“In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics.”
JFK

“Justice and goodwill will outlast passion.”
James A. Garfield

Death

Death

In my mind today, I’m thinking of death. On the Catholic calendar, the day after Christmas is a day of remembrance for the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen. As I read I was thinking, why would this be placed in such a celebratory time of year?

Death. It does come for each of us. It doesn’t care what time of year. Recently, death has visited a sweet, young woman to whom I shared my writings with each day. Janie was only 56 years old. She was terminally ill and my brother suggested I send my reflections to her. After each reflection, she would send me a text or some type of positive affirmation. We became friends even though I never was able to see her face to face. Rest In Peace my sweet friend. I’ll see you on the other side. Death is not an end.

This Christmas held so many blessings but also sadness. The day after Christmas my family lost a member. My sister’s husband crossed over after several years of physical debilitation. During family gatherings we would joke about who was going to die first. Then we would discuss how our bodies are betraying us. We then thought of the blessings in our lives. We all missed him Thanksgiving and he was hospitalized through December so we missed him Christmas as well. Death came to him December 26th, on the day of the celebration of the first christian martyr.

So back to the question, “Why should we celebrate the death of the first martyr the day after celebrating a savior’s birth? Where’s our season of joy?” Just as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:55, Death lost it’s sting. We have joy, hope, and faith that there’s more to our lives than our earthly chapter. There is more! Shout it from the rooftops. This is what Janie sent me after one of my reflections: “Thank you Sarah. Now, I understand. I’m not scared of death anymore. I get it” Gordon, my brother-in-law, also made his peace with this life. We all will have to meet Death one day. The seasons may all vary when Death arrives, but the sting will be gone. There lies the true meaning of Christmas.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Death be not Proud Gal

Dedicated to:
Janie Newhouse 1961-2017
Gordon Hooper 1952-2017

Quotes of the Day:

“If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”
Maya Angelou

“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”
Socrates

“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”
Leonardo da Vinci

1 Corinthians 15:55 & 56
55
“O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.