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

Creating Your Bedford Falls

Creating Your Bedford Falls

In my mind today, I’m thinking of my favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. This is saying something because boy, I have so many favorite Christmas movies from classics to modern. The movie was originally a flop but over time it became a blockbuster. There are so many lessons in this film. I enjoy uncovering each one and new ones each year. You have an assignment! If you haven’t watched it, watch it! Then continue reading this blog. The film is 71 years old. It is AMAZING!

Analyze the characters and then look around your town or city. See if you can match the characters with people you know. Yes, that’s another assignment. Quit grumbling. Yes, every town sadly has its share of Mr. Potters, but also just as many Peter Baileys. At least I hope so. I hear the back row grumbling, not everyone lives in a small town and small town living isn’t always so “grand.” I agree it has its drawbacks but the blessings outweigh the cons. Here’s the secret: you can have your own Bedford Falls anywhere in the world. Oh ye of little faith! Where do you reside on this blue and green planet? Whether it be urban or rural, a Bedford Falls can be established. How? Your cities or hamlets are not physical entities; they are made of living substance not inanimate objects. Why are fictional places like Bedford Falls, Stars Hollow, Bluebell, and Mayberry so charming? Think students. Yes! It’s the people. Be kind to all the people in your sphere of living. Each one has a purpose and function. Each one needs love and encouragement whether they work in a shop on 5th Avenue NYC or a small grocery store in the countryside. They are the true substance of our “Bedford Falls”

In every life, some rain must fall. The difference is knowing you have living, breathing characters to bring you a needed meal, help with a broken car, or simply share an umbrella during your monsoon moments of life. Start recognizing the George Baileys in your burgs. Help the Uncle Billys who struggle with keeping it all together. Go watch the lil ZuZus recitals. Cheer on hometown heroes, these are your Harry Baileys. Compliment your Sam Wainwrights for their philanthropy. Embrace your Martini families for striving for the American Dream. Treat the Violets of your town with respect and give them dignity. As for the Mr. Potters, you have to battle their icy hearts with love. Take the high road always because they are the ones that need love the most. Love cannot be purchased only created with help from our creator. Are you ready to create your own Bedford Falls? Sal the It’s a Wonderful Life Gal has been for a while. Join me.

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Bedford Falls Gal

Dedicated to the hamlets in NW. Tennessee: Dyersburg, Newbern, Trimble, & Union City
I adore the Mom & Pops and each and every village square.

 

Quotes of the Day:

“All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
Pa Bailey aka Peter Bailey

“Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them and you weren’t there to save Harry.”
Clarence

“You see George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?”
Clarence

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
George Bailey

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Clarence

“Look, Daddy. Teacher says: every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
ZuZu Bailey

“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”
Clarence

Life

Life

 

 

 

 


In my mind today I’m thinking about how we can survive this life. Just like the old saying, “No one gets out alive” the truth hurts. As we trundle down our life lines, we have many hills to climb and sometimes when you’re lucky you catch some effortless down hill coasting. This reminds me of my biking and running seasons. Those coasting moments are refreshing.

Our book club just read The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. It has just been made into a major motion picture. It was a great read about survival and love. Just like in life, we encounter mountains. The mountains can be literal like in our book but also figurative. We have mountains to climb in our personal lives, workplaces, peer groups, families, and especially our spiritual lives. We slip, fall, get lost, and sometimes tumble over the cliff wall. The most important thing is that we give our all so we have no regrets. That’s when we are able to lift our eyes up to see the Glory of the blessings we have given and received in our lives. When the mountain seems too steep, use blind Faith to get you to the top. This whole “life” is so much bigger than we mere humans can fathom.

I ended our Book Club meeting with a quote by a wise, beautiful woman. I was lucky enough in this life to meet her and hear her sing. The quote paralleled the motifs of our book. “To succeed in life you need three things, a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.” Your wishbones are your dreams. Your determination is your backbone. Your sense of humor which is ever so important is your funny bone. If you can find humor on your steepest mountain climbs, you’ll be at the summit before you know it. Today as you begin your weekend and Thanksgiving holidays, find your wishbones, backbones, and funny bones.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Mountain Climbing Gal
Dedicated to Reba McIntire for her beautiful spirit, inspiration, and strength.

Quotes of the Day:
“To succeed in life you need three things, a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.”
Reba McIntire

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Edward Abbey

 

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
Muhammad Ali

“Patience and Diligence, like faith, remove mountains.”
William Penn

 

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

 

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

Disappointments

Disappointments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longer

Longer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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