Faith, Hope, Love, & Radicava

Faith, Hope, Love, & Radicava

 

In my mind today, I’m thinking of rejoicing. This is the third week of advent. We are called to rejoice remembering our savior entered the world. Behold! Emmanuel is here within each of us. He is.

Ironically, I’m also rejoicing because with faith, hope, and love God has granted an approval for me to begin infusions of a new drug to sustain me on this side of heaven for a bit longer. It’s called Radicava. If all goes well, Sal the Hopeful Gal will be given more time to share my light with you.

If you research ALS, there are so, so many variations. I’ve already been blessed by a slower progressing form of the disease. Now, Radicava may slow down my progression further still. So Sal is the Rejoicing Gal! My first infusion starts tomorrow. I promise to update as I go through this process. We PALS (people with ALS) pray for more time. We want to love just a little longer.

Are there glitches? Oh yes, isn’t there always? First, I’m praying I have no allergic reactions. Second, I’m praying both my insurances help pay for it. At the moment, only my private insurance is willing to pay. The costs are outrageous My first infusion is $15,000. Only 70% is being covered at the moment, but I have hope that all will work out. I’ve been carried for my 48 years in His Palm, and I have peace with whatever life throws my way. Just this morning I was reminded that each trouble we encounter has meaning and purpose. Last, I’m asking for your continued love and prayers as I begin this part of my journey.

So students, God willing we will have many more lessons together. I’m headed to the church today to work with the youth on a Christmas skit to be presented Thursday night. I asked God to use me and I sincerely thank Him for doing so through help from my family and friends. I am living not dying with ALS. I’m not giving up or slowing down. Just like Robert Frost penned, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Radicava Gal

Dedicated to past and present PALS. We pray that there will be no more PALS in the future.

Quotes of the Day:
“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”
Hippocrates

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
Audrey Hepburn

“Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”
Karl A. Menninger

https://www.radicava.com/patient/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-als-drug-approved-for-lou-gehrigs-disease-radicava/

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

When the Saints Go Marching In…

When the Saints Go Marching In…

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

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

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

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

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the I wanna be a Saint Gal

Dedicated to all of those who have gone before us.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Invasion of the Body Parts

Invasion of the Body Parts

In my mind today I’m still scattered and all over the place. I’ve been Sal the Busiest Gal. I’m so glad my arms and thumbs are letting me write today. I’ve been so tired just trying to hold my head up and just drive this scoot. I’ve missed all of you!

I’m still reeling from a great Saturday on the downtown square raising awareness through the Autumn March for ALS. We survived all the glitches and managed to have a day of love and laughter. Not to mention being surrounded by so many kids. A teacher’s dream is to see healthy kids having fun, exercising, and inspiring all of us to join together and fight for better days for everyone especially them. They are the ones who will be the light bearers. We desperately need to teach them well. Sal the Show-tunes Gal is singing Crosby, Stills, & Nash in her mind as I type and reflect.

Back row students, you are going to love this. This morning I read about body parts that cause us to sin. Go ahead and get your snickers, snorts, and giggles out. What does this make us think of? Yes, back row, the horizontal boogie. Let’s move forward. I hear you thinking hands can steal, fists can hit, tongues can lie, even brains think evil thoughts. Sexual sins are bad, but our other body parts can do just as much or more damage. So as we strive to make the world a better place, let’s use all of our body parts for good. Yes, back row even those parts!

Let’s all put our thinking hats on today. Use your tongue to spread kind words. Find a soup kitchen and use your hands to serve. Unfurl your fists and fold them to pray for those suffering through cancer treatments, terminal diseases, financial burdens, depression, abuse, tragic accidents, addictions, and loneliness. Use your legs to run or walk in a benefit race. Use that brilliant mind to solve the little local problems around you. Look with your eyes and find those who need a kind gesture. Let’s not forget to open our big hearts and accept those around us warts and all. You see, the time is now. Stop holding back and join the fight to help good overcome evil. I am such a busy Gal. I’m going to roll on until I’m on the other side. ALS has taught me so much about real priorities in this earthly life. God is Good all the time even in our struggles. Heck, He’s the MVP if we just put him in the game. Try it!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Dedicated to my Alley Alliance

Quotes of the Day:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Ian Maclauren

“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
Swami Vivekananda

“My strong belief is that God created human beings and therefore he knows about every aspect of the human body. So if I want to fix it, I just need to stay in harmony with Him.”
Ben Carson

“All parts of the human body get tired eventually – except the tongue.”
Konrad Adenauer

 

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