Signs of aging?

We are all aging. We have no other option. Well… the only option that exists is not acceptable to healthy, active individuals – death.  I will never say that death is not an option when there are people out there that are terminal and their time is drawing near. I know that, 20 years ago, when my grandmother was dying from ovarian cancer, I prayed that she die and be at peace and whole again in heaven. BUT, I digress.

forgetfulness, that is my issue right now. It is not the, ‘Oh, I came into this room, what is it that I wanted?’ For me, it seems I am misplacing things or having something in my hand one minute and then absent-mindedly putting it down and then not knowing what I did with the item. And it seems to happening more. And it is driving me crazy because I can’t imagine what my life will be like in five or 10 or 20 years if I am failing this quickly.

Am I getting old or is it that I have too much running through my brain, too much going on in my life that my brain cannot, or refuses to keep it all organized? I would like to think that is my problem not that my brain is going to mush. I like to think that I, as well as many Americans, have taken on too many things and that my mind can’t do all of that multi-tasking. I am pretty sure that things that I am doing are going into short-term memory and shorter term memory and so when I hop from one thing to another, it gets lost.

Years ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I took on the responsibility of trying to be a better person because that is the right thing to do, not because I resolved to do it on New Year’s Day. It just so happens that at this time of the year, I have been misplacing things more often. In trying to get ready for Christmas, my son’s birthday, going on a winter vacation, I have had a few problems with being absent-minded. I believe it is just not thinking, not that I am getting old, senile, or Alzheimer’s. I have had way too much on my mind.

So, I have decided that I need to be in the moment and not elsewhere at whatever I am doing. That way, when I am organizing my basement and put down my coffee cup, I don’t forget where I put it. And btw, that is what happened on Wednesday, I put down my 24 oz. coffee mug, a very large mug, and it took me ten minutes to find it on my pantry shelf in the basement. I am going to start making lists again, which is how I lived my life before children. So I guess if you call that a resolution, since it is close to the first of the year, I am making a resolution.

“I resolve, to be in the moment and to slow my brain down. I resolve to be better organized through list-making. I plan to make better use of my time which will not make me feel like I need to rush from thing to another. While I may be busy, I resolve to make it manageable through organization. If I find that I am still losing things, I will either #1  work on cutting back what I do or #2 see if there is something physiologically wrong with me.”

Signs of aging, I hope not; I hope it is signs of disorganization and too much multi-tasking.

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A Christmas Carol

It is appropriate that on this Christmas Eve I write about “A Christmas Carol” It is my all time favorite story at Christmas time. Some of you might be saying, “But Jane, you write a lot about your faith. Shouldn’t the Nativity Story be your favorite?”

In your thinking, yes, the Nativity story should be my favorite. While it is why we celebrate Christmas, I relate so well to the characters or Charles Dickens. On a simplistic level, it is a story about a man who relives his life and sees that he could be a better person. Or, it is about money; how you don’t need money to be happy and sometimes money, or the love of money (very religious) can make you very lonely. I guess I should just say that “A Christmas Carol” is my favorite movie.

It is about family dysfunction and how unresolved feelings can make you a wreck. It is about the innocence of youth. I could keep going but the complexity is not my point. My point is about the world!

My last couple of writings have dealt with the troubles of this world as I see it. It has been about the need to be #1 and forget the facts. The facts can be figured out later. So with that, I begin.

As I was getting ready for our Christmas Eve service, I was watching the scene when Jacob Marley was visiting Ebenezer Scrooge. He talked about the chains that he forged, “oh, those seven years ago,” and how Scrooge’s chains were as long as Marley’s back then. Marley spoke of the additional chains that have been forged since his passing. And I started thinking about the Marley’s of the world; I began to wonder how many people are out there that too, have forged so many chains that they are not aware. That not until their death, did they realize the errors of their ways, the wrongs that they have committed here on this earth. And I felt sad for all of the Marley’s that live here today. That will learn when it is too late.

Then I began thinking of the Scrooge’s out there. I wasn’t thinking of the curmudgeon of a Scrooge because that would be Marley. No, I was thinking of the Scrooge’s out there that have had an epiphany and have changed their ways. I think of those people who were selfish and mean and now, for whatever reason, have become giving and caring and redemptive.  I think how lucky those people are to have the same opportunity that Ebenezer had to change his ways and become a better person.

When you think of “A Christmas Carol”, you cannot forget the spirits. Depending on the version of “A Christmas Carol” you watch determines the spirit that you get. Some of the versions have the Ghost of Christmas Past as a young woman, sometimes an old man. Sometimes the spirit is very serious and other times, almost like a silly goose (an oca loca, is what my daughter would say). The director has taken the story and used his/her own spin to decide that past.

I could see using the different characterizations because at the beginning, Scrooge seemed an abused child and therefore sad. After he became an apprentice to Fezziwig, he became jovial and full of life. But he became sad and angry into adulthood. Because of this, I could see where the ghost could be portrayed in different ways if your belief is the ghost could be a reflection of life.

It is interesting that the Ghost of Christmas Present may be presented differently in appearance but he seems to always be a ghost with a jovial laugh. There is always a great deal of food and light. It would appear that he will be uplifting but that is not the case. Yes, it is true that he shows many happy families and celebrations; but he also shows the reality of life. He reminds Ebenezer that there is poverty and hurt and despair in the world. And that Ebenezer has a responsibility to help if he has the means.

Sadly, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is always ominous, mysterious and scary. As child, it is scary to look at and I would seem to turn away when I was younger. As an adult it is the reminder of death and that it is looming. I know that ghost is to scare Ebenezer into seeing that his life is not worth much and that he garners no respect. But sometimes I wish this ghost would have different personas like the other ghosts. I guess maybe everyone who has produced a Christmas Carol story, felt that Dickens did a fine job with this character.

I don’t know that I have experienced a Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. I do think there are times that I am scared into looking at my present and how my present may affect my future. There are times that I wonder if I fall into the category of a Marley, that I do not see the chains that I have forged in my life – chains that will not be revealed until death.

I do love the end of the story; Ebenezer Scrooge has seen the light and for the rest of his days was a loving and giving man. I really hope that is how I  will be remembered, not for the awful things but for the good. I do not believe that I am a Scrooge; not a ‘before ghosts’ Scrooge or an ‘after ghosts’ Scrooge. I am probably a cross between Scrooge and Cratchit, not always bad but not always good.

I wish for everyone, the memorable Tiny Tim statement, “God Bless us, every one!”

Merry Christmas and Blessings to you all.

When will the world end?

Well, I am writing so it is obvious that the world did not come to an end as the Mayans apparently had predicted. For various reasons, I did not have much faith in that prediction.

  1. It did not make any major news station like previous predictions had
  2. The Mayan Calendar did not take into consideration a 7 day, 12 month year and Leap Year was not known
  3. It says in the Bible that only the One, True God knows of the end.

I am sure that many people have been thinking about the Second Coming or the end of existence with all of the weather abnormalities. Also with all of the unrest in the Middle East and of course, the unrest in the lives of others that have caused horror on our own land.

As I have written before, I am a faithful and religious person but I am not an obsessive Christian. I believe that all I have has come from God and I should so my best to be kind, caring and help those that need help. I do not live my life hoping for the Coming of Christ. If that makes me a bad Christian, then I must pray every day for  forgiveness. Even with all of its problems and horrors, I actually like this earth. I like where I live. I even like the eight inches of snow that fell in blizzard conditions earlier this week.

I am selfish for my children. I want them to be able to experience the same things in life that I have experienced. They are honestly such great kids. They both have more compassion, concern about their earth and are further along in their faith walk than I was at their age. I want to see what they become as adults and how they take everything that they know and have passion for and use it to better this place we call home.

I remember when I was in high school, the world was going to be coming to an end. I was scared. I was honestly in fear of my life. I did not want my life to end when I was just a teenager. There was so much I wanted to see. There was so much I wanted to accomplish. From a shallow standpoint, I didn’t want to die before knowing what truly loving someone was like. I wanted to know what physical love was as well. I also knew that I was not going to go out and have sex just because someone said that the world was going to come to an end. So the same things that I feared I would not experience are the same things that I fear for my children. I do want my children to know what true love is about. I want then to know what it is like to love someone so deeply that they want to spend the rest of their life with them.

The world did not come to an end when I was a teenager and who knows (Okay God knows) when time on this earth will cease. But I know that I need to live my as if it were ending tomorrow. There are times when I really fail being a good person but there are days that I succeed oh so well!

Every year I hope that I become a better position, mature in my walk with God, mature in my handling tough situations. I think that I do grow a little every year. So once again, I will hope that I become a better person and do a better job acting the way I have been taught to act towards others.

As we see this Christmas season and as those of Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah, we all are reflecting on light. For us it is the light of Christ, the light of the star that told of Jesus’ birth. For the Jewish people it is the miracle of the light of the oil lasting in the lamp. I think if we all look at ourselves, we are more alike than different and I think we should be looking at how we can be civil and friendly instead of looking at our differences and thinking that it is the difference that defines us. It is not the differences but our similarities that can define us and make us great.

Whether you celebrate the light of Jesus or the Light of the Menorah, peace to you all and blessings to you and your family.

 

Responsible journalism

We now have all heard and wept over the atrocious happenings in Connecticut. I became angry, almost straight away, at the news media and their inconsiderate and inaccurate reporting.

I have a degree in contemporary media/journalism and I am appalled at the way this horrible action was handled. I actually got out of television reporting when the news director where I worked asked me to change the “spin” of my story because the truth would hurt a county supervisor. Even though the story was accurate and backed with facts, my story was scrapped because it would not look good in that community. When the news director threw me under the bus I decided it was time to leave.

A sister company’s news director came to our station for a review of our stories and that director did not like the approach to a story (that my news director set up). My director blamed me and then after the meeting, he apologized in private telling me that he was not going to take the blame; nice boss! I found a new job that week end!

Why is our society so obsessed with having to have information NOW? Would it not be better to have accurate information instead of hearing information and then having to correct yourself 5 times when the facts are actually established? I just don’t get it!

My daughter came home from school today saying that one teacher told her the killing was done in Pennsylvania to 4th and 5th graders and that 26 were killed. Another teacher told her it was in Connecticut, kindergarteners and 26 children were dead. First I heard a 20-year-old had done the shooting and then within 20 minutes the news “confirmed” that the shooter was 24 years old. My husband tells me later that the 24-year-old was named and the report had to be retracted because the person named was the brother of the 20-year-old shooter. So not only does this 24-year-old victim of the press have to deal with a slanderous accusation, he has to deal with the death of his mother and the acts of his brother and the brother’s suicide.

When did being a journalist mean getting the fastest news out and to hell with accuracy! I would rather be known as a reporter that is accurate in reporting than quick. You can report on the news facts that you have and as the story develops, report the additional facts.

How many parents found out about the shooting on the news? How many feared for the lives of their children without having accurate facts? I feel for these families and I pray for everyone that is involved – the families, the police, the paramedics, the whole community.

And it is not just this story; it is people who think that they have a right to any information out there – be it national security, the health of our political leaders, the true color of a celebrities hair. Sometimes it is best to not know and to let people do their jobs and sometimes in private and in secret. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be aware but I do not need to know what our country is doing about the problems in North Korea. If we tell all, what we know, what we want to know, then we have no security; we have told the world everything and that cannot be good or smart.

While listening to commentators on the shooting, there was a person that said that things like this will always happen when people have ‘reality tv” and “Facebook”. What does Facebook have to do with this shooting? In the same discussion a female reporter says, “It has been confirmed that this is not a Jihad. This was a single incident.” I never thought that it was anything but a crazy person but now this reporter has put the thought in everyone’s mind that there was a thought it was a Muslim attack. When this man talked about reality tv or Facebook, my thought was that we should look at the news media and their culpability in reporting inaccurately.

I agree that there is too much violence on the news and in television programs and reality tv. Because people think they need it does not mean they should get it. They think that they need it because it was given to them once and now it is like a drug and they just can’t say no. As I have said before, “It is hard to close Pandora’s Box.” When it used to be that there should be no swearing on television, actors and people on the street can get away with saying frickin’ or sh** or other words. I think the only thing not allowed is using the Lord’s Name in vain. I hope that never becomes acceptable.

I have had this opinion for many years. But today set me off when there were so many discrepancies in the stories that were being reported over the many news stations. I know that this should be about mourning the loss of life but I just can’t get out of my head all of the people who have been hurt, had their lives ruined (or lost like the nurse who committed suicide after the London hospital incident with Princess Kate)

We never know how what we say or write can affect others. We never know how stable, or unstable, a person is until something traumatic happens. We never know when a simple prank may end up in the person ending their life for whatever reason. I am not against simple pranks but I think the British Press went too far in reporting about Jacintha Saldahna.

Why can’t we be careful in what we say and how we say it and make sure that what we say or write is accurate? When will those stupid reporter’s ever get it through their head that you do not ask a parent how they feel when they have just lost their young child? Let me give them that answer…”They are devastated and their life will never be the same.” Be a little sensitive; being a reporter does not mean being insensitive. Be a good reporter and be accurate and be careful because the  people who you report on or speak with have emotions and may not need to have their information shared right then.

God Bless those families and may God keep them enfolded in His loving arms.

I need a job

“I need a job!” How many times have you said that? Actually, I remember just twice – once when I was graduated from college and had sent out a million (okay a little exaggeration) resume‘s to television stations and now. I have either been gainfully employed or, as a family, made the decision that a paying job was not best. All that has changed. I am not gainfully employed and the family has decided that I need to start providing an income.

So, “I need a job!” Do you know how hard it is for me to find a job/career when I have not had full-time work for almost 17 years? It is pretty darn hard, especially if I want to find a job/career in my field of study, contemporary media/journalism. I have been sending out resume’s via a job search website http://www.flexjobs.com.

My first experience of sending out resume’s, oh so many years ago, was all done by snail mail and the employer would respond back with a “Thank you, no jobs are available”, or “Thanks, but your qualifications do not match our needs.” Now you send out a resume’ for a job posting and the email response is…”Thank you for your application. While (insert company name) attempts to contact all candidates within a reasonable time, due to the high volume of applicants, we may not always be able to respond to each submission. We will contact potential candidates to schedule an interview. HR will keep your resume and information on file for future consideration.” I don’t have hundreds of applications out there, but I have either received the above statement or heard nothing at all.

Some problems I have been finding are employers want paid experience. I have been a volunteer writer/editor for a not-for-profit quarterly newsletter for over 3 years and have been their non-paid grant writer for two years. How can this not count as experience? My success rate for grants is over 50%. My understanding, that in the grant writing world, that percentage is successful.

I also have been writing, almost non-stop, since college. I either found a way to write in my job or was using my background for other organizations or businesses. I have written for the Girl Scouts – newsletters, brochures and other PR publications. I used my talent writing for our housing development, the Village of Kennard, Nebraska, Toastmaster’s International and presently, Camp Fontanelle in Fontanelle, NE. But the only job that I actually was paid for writing was at the television station. The other positions were not part of my job title but became a part of my job or was done as a volunteer. I even write articles for our local newspaper but once again, not a paid position.

I just need a chance, but cannot take a non-paid job. I blog regularly for practice and write for http://www.examiner.com. Examiner is more about getting practice and getting published. It cannot be my main source of income. I spend many hours a week, sometimes a day, and this is about all I can give non-paid.

I am learning about on-line writing. This is a new animal for me. This was not a possibility when I was in college because the internet did not exist. I don’t know if there are more writers out there or more people out there writing. But I am trying to brush up on my AP style writing and copywriting/editing. I am not expecting a miracle. I would like a writing position by mid-summer. I am being patient but I also know that I would rather write than work in customer service. It seems that is one of few options that I have since it has been 17 years since working full-time.

This blog is a place for my thoughts, experiences and feelings. While it is not meant to have huge SEO, there may be some, like you, who read this. If you have any words of advice or encouragement, please share. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Copper has died; Long live Copper in our hearts. (Thoughts on euthanasia)

Note: part of this was begun on Monday, November 26, a day before Copper died.

He was terminal. He was not going to get better. His bone marrow was not producing red blood cells and the RBCs he had were dying. He was dying. He was not that same dog that would jump from five steps up to get to the door to go outside. He didn’t want his favorite treat. He turned his head when I tried to give him a cooked turkey liver.

It was painful; not for him but for me as I watched him waste away by the hour. He was not suffering, physically. A low RBC, at its basic level, causes a person to be tired, lethargic. That was Copper, sometimes too tired to lift his head. It was not natural. It was not Copper.

(Below was written on the 26th. I have tried not to edit it as the writing was fresh and raw)

He was ‘hospitalized’ at the vet’s office and given an IV of meds to help him get better. Many tests were done and many things were ruled out but it was hard to come up with an answer as to why he was so ill; he looked healthy. Comparing blood tests started showing that his blood was deteriorating but the vet did not know if it was a production problem or a destruction problem.

We now have answers and have to look at what is best for our dog, our family member. Copper is not producing red blood cells. And the blood cells that he has are looking very tired. Soon he will not have any red blood cells in his body.

What does this mean to a dog or a person? Well, he gets tired very easily; he is lethargic; he has lost his appetite. That is because the red blood cells move oxygen around the body. That is not happening. Copper also has low platelets. That is actually why he was initially taken to the vet, he kept bleeding from the nose and mouth. It was just odd, but that is what happens when there are not enough platelets, you bleed, or when you start, it is hard to stop.

We had plans to be away from home for Thanksgiving. We did not know how Copper was going to handle us being away so we left him with the vet and kept our Tinkerbelle at home with our niece. When I went to pick up Copper today, we had one last blood test to confirm what the vet had feared; Copper was dying and it would not be long before he was dead. Through many tears, I learned all I needed to know to be able to go home and share with the family our options.

I now await the arrival of our children to discuss the end of life plan for our dearest family member, Copper. I brought Copper home so we can share our last moments, to have closure, to say to him what we need to say, to say good-bye. It is hard to believe that soon he will no longer be physically with us.

(That is all I could write. The rest was written today and is still wrought with emotion but there have been a few days to process what has happened)

Murphy’s Law went into action. Talking to the family did not go as planned. My son did not get my text because his phone had died so he did not come home right after school. I had to pick my daughter up from school because…my son did not get my text. Conversations were done individually.

The initial discussion happened with my husband as soon as Copper and I got home from the vet’s. Through a bucket full of tears, we talked about, not what was best for us but, what was best for Copper. He needed to be allowed to be at peace. I cannot say that he needed to be without pain because I could tell that he was not in pain. You live with someone for nine and a half years, you get to know them and he was not in pain; he was sad. The life that he had in his eyes before we went away for Thanksgiving was gone. Before he had a sparkle; that was gone. He was oh so skinny. He had lost 5 pounds, more than 25% of his body weight in three weeks.

Kent and I decided that we would have a discussion with our children about ending his misery. Kent went ahead and called Dr. Johnson and made an appointment to have him put down the next day. Our thought was, we could always cancel the appointment if the kids were not on board.

NOW, let me tell you, I believe in euthanasia. I have believed in euthanasia for as long as I can remember. I wrote term papers on passive euthanasia in high school and college. I gave speeches on euthanasia. Kent and I signed Living Wills, as soon as we were married, stating that we did not want to be kept alive by artificial means if there was no hope of recovery. We had that discussion again when a friend of ours was in a bicycle accident. It is not something that we don’t talk about. It is something that we discuss with family so everyone knows how we feel.

I spoke with my daughter as I drove the 10 miles from the high school to home. She asked if she needed to take over driving as the tears ran down my cheeks. But I said no because I needed something to concentrate on, even if it was only driving a road that I have driven thousands of times. She knew what I was going to say. She had been preparing since I had sent the text 5 hours prior. She knew and she knew that Copper needed to be released. She was not fine but she was okay.

My son got home after martial arts and we had the talk. I can still hear him say, “Oh, Copper,” the way he did almost every day. I told him, as I had told my daughter, that he needed to say his goodbyes because tomorrow was the day.

Monday was a blur. And Tuesday came too quickly.

We have a dog door that goes into the garage where the dogs have a special place to get out of Nebraska weather. There are also dog houses and chairs for them to sit on outside, when the weather is nice. Needless to say, our dogs are very spoiled.

Well, we put Copper in the garage to be with Tinkerbelle and I would go out an check on him frequently. There were a few times throughout the day, I would go out and lie next to him, stroke his soft, curly hair and just talk. Talk to him about how much I loved him and how lucky we were to have him in our lives. I told him that what we were doing was to make him well in another place (I do believe that an animal’s life does not end here on Earth. I have to believe that) I also told him I was sorry because what we were doing, no matter how much I thought it was the correct decision, was a hard decision.

About 45 minutes before he was to go to the vet’s, I picked him up; he was no longer able to walk much of a distance without tripping or falling. I took him outside and told him to ‘go potty’. He stumbled around a little and then I picked him up and brought him inside. I sat holding him on the ‘dog sofa’. It was the last time I would hold him. His head lie limply on my chest. I was hoping he could hear my heart beat and know that it was more than just an organ that pushed blood throughout my body. I was hoping he knew that it was a heart that was breaking, that was so full of love, that it needed to let him go so  he could be healed. I just took it all in and prayed that there really was a Rainbow Bridge that our pets crossed over to another life.

It was decided that Tinkerbelle would go to the vet’s with me so she knew that Copper had died. She needed to know that Copper was not coming home. She had seen him leave over the past three weeks and he had always come home. Tinkerbelle needed to know that her friend would not be around anymore.

Dr. Johnson told me on Monday that the process would take about 20 minutes but I needed to block out an hour in case his office got busy. He wanted the process to happen without interruption so he wanted me to be prepared to not have things begin at the scheduled time. I was okay with that.

We drove to town and I continued to talk to both dogs the whole way. The tears had not started, yet. Getting out of the car I had Copper in my arms and little Tinkerbelle on a leash. Tinkerbelle was nervous because the last time she was at the vet office was to give a blood transfusion to Copper when we did not have a diagnosis.

(I am going to explain the process and my experience. If you do not want to read about it, please go down to the XXXXXX’s. You can start reading again after that).

It was 4:45. The office was not busy. It was us and the office staff. We were directed into the room where we always go; the exam room where we learned of Copper’s fate. I laid Copper on the cold, stainless steel table and continued stroking his coat. Tinkerbelle was roaming the exam room, shaking like a leaf, not sure what to expect.

The vet and his assistant came into the room and again explained the procedure that was going to occur. He had explained it Monday to make sure that we were completely informed as to what would happen. Euthanasia is derived from two Greek words which together mean ‘good death’. That is what we wanted for Copper, a good death.

It was time. I let the assistant take over controlling Copper on the table. It was really not necessary because he was lying there not moving but I moved to petting his head and hoping he felt the love. Doc Johnson leaned over and whispered something in Copper’s ear. I don’t know what was said, but I imagine it was something about everything was going to be okay, he was going to be in a better place, he was loved. It was their private moment.

At this time, I picked up Tinkerbelle and held her as Copper’s leg was shaved for the injection. A tourniquet was put around his leg and Doc tried to find the vein. “That vein is gone.” Oh wow! He explained that he needed to prep the other back leg. So he moved that leg aside and shaved his other leg and put a tourniquet on it. He told me that he was able to find that vein and started the injection.

I swear that within 30 seconds he looked at me and said, “He is gone”. I looked shocked and said, “So soon.” He looked at my tear filled eyes and said, “He was almost there. He just needed a little help.”

It was peaceful. There was no release of air from his lungs. There were no fluids leaving his body (which I knew was a possibility at death). His eyes stayed open (which I have read is natural). I think that is why I was so surprised that he was dead. It took less than a minute and his eyes were open. Oh Man! Copper was dead!

Dr. Johnson told his assistant to go get a towel so Copper could be laid on the floor for Tinkerbelle to see him. I don’t know if it was the assistant or the doctor that laid Copper on the floor. All I remember is when Copper was picked up, his head flopped back because it was not supported; the sign I needed that confirmed his death. I know that sounds weird but him laying on the table and his chest not rising, did not confirm it for me; the vet saying he was dead did not confirm it. His head flop confirmed it and I was sad.

Tinkerbelle sniffed a little but would not get close to Copper. I put her tennis ball close, but she would not go after it. I knew she knew Copper was dead because nothing would stop Tinkerbelle from going after her tennis ball.

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Dr. Johnson explained, on Monday, that Tinkerbelle would go through the same grieving process that a person goes through. We were not to be surprised if she started ripping up pillows and that was okay because she needed to work through her grief. I have seen a change in Tinkerbelle. She does want to be held more. She does not rollick in the back yard like she did with Copper. She will get better. We just have to be patient. (She still likes her tennis balls though!)

It is appropriate that as I write this the vet office called and said Copper’s ashes are ready for pick up. We opted to have him cremated. We will decide at a later date whether to have has ashes stored in an urn (which my son wants to make in Advanced Pottery) or have his ashes spread in a favorite spot.

Copper is dead but he will forever live in the heart’s of those who loved him. My grief is not over. But I am better. And I know Copper is better. Two comments were made that put a smile on my face: from my sister who commented after I sent out an announcement to family and close friends,  ‘I just wondered how Copper was doing. He’s doing GREAT! He and Jake are chasing butterflies beyond the Rainbow Bridge. I’ve got tears for you all and for all our wonderful nonhuman family members. You’re right, they do tell you when they’re ready to go, even if you’re not ready.’ And from my neighbor after I posted his ‘obituary’ on Facebook, ‘We all are sorry to hear about Copper.  Will miss seeing him romp through the side yard!’ 

I am so grateful for the person who envisioned the Rainbow Bridge, a place for our beloved pets to roam after death. Whether it is true or not, whether they cross the Rainbow Bridge or head directly to ‘people’ Heaven, I have hope that Copper will be with me again, when my time comes. http://www.rainbowbridge.com/hello.htm

Blessings to all of you who have suffered the death of a pet. Copper’s death is probably one of the most devastating deaths that I have experienced. He was always true and loving and never judged me (at least I can believe that because he could not speak to me in human speak). There will never be another Copper.

In memory of Hollybriar Copper Wired Van Horn b. 5/21/03 d. 11/27/12

This is the last photo taken of Copper

This is the last photo taken of Copper

How do we use our words?

I have a very diverse life. I have been blessed to experience many aspects of life. I have had full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and non-paying jobs. I am a wife, a mother a friend. And as I write this, I notice that my first three sentences all begin ‘I have’. My thoughts run to “how selfish am I to be thinking about what ‘I have’ instead of what I can do, or be, or give.’

And that makes me laugh because my family is very conscious of our giving both in time and finances to organizations and people who are less fortunate than our family. So why is it that I look at those sentences and cringe and think of the selfishness of the word have?

The first definition of have in the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is…’to hold or maintain as a possession, privilege, or entitlement: to hold in one’s use, service, regard or at one’s disposal.’ The definition goes on but it never sounds positive. Further down in the definition it actually says that it can mean to ‘take advantage of: TRICK, FOOL (as in been had by his partner).’ One of the only positive spins I see in the wordage has to deal with marriage ‘to accept marriage’. No wonder I felt a little queasy after seeing the first three sentences I wrote.

So I go one step further and find Roget’s Thesaurus hoping for some affirmation that have is not a bad word and should not need to be struck from my vocabulary. I begin to think how hard it is going to be to find words or phrases that can replace the word have. I am somewhat pleased that the first word to replace have in the thesaurus is understand. Okay, that is a good word. The next word sends me in the dumps again…possess…ugh, the third word include, YEA! I continue looking at the thesaurus and see that there are over four and a half pages, or approximately 1000, have phrases in which the thesaurus gives alternative wording.

I don’t want to think that have is a bad word. I have many things and I know that means a lot in our ability to give. It says in the Bible (paraphrase) to those who have been given much, much will be expected. I believe that one reaps the other (my words) because I have, I can give. Because I give, I have. I do believe that I am blessed because of my trying to be of service to others.

You cannot give what is not there. I find time to give to volunteer organizations because it is important to me. When my children were young, I was their Girl Scout and/or Cub Scout leader. Before we started homeschooling, I volunteered at their school.

If something is important, you can find the time; you find a way to fit it in to your schedule even if it is stuffing envelopes at your home after the kids are in bed. I used to tell people why I volunteered so much was to make up for those who did not have the time. I did not have a full-time job so I was more flexible than those who worked full-time.

Sometimes, the unimportant things get pushed to the side temporarily. I think that is the personality of many women; they sacrifice themselves for others and say that there will always be time for themselves when their children get older.  While I would really like to spend my days quilting, there are more important things that I can be doing to help impact lives and our community.

I believe that I am doing all I can. I devote many hours to volunteering. As my children get older, my volunteer focus changes. They don’t need me as much anymore and their activities don’t lend themselves to needing me as a volunteer. But my giving does not stop, it just evolves.

In this season of giving, it would be nice if everyone took the time to look at their life, see how it impacts their family, their community, our world. If everyone, and I mean everyone, gave up one hour a week (on average) to help someone, to help an organization, think of the millions of hours that will have been given to better our world. It is just an hour, 52 hours over the year, just a little more than 1.25 of a work week, to make this place we call home, better.

Now don’t get me wrong; I am not asking everyone to restrict their volunteering to one hour a week. I would love it if everyone who is not already volunteering began donating an hour a week. I know there are people out there that do not give anything for one reason or another. Volunteering is not limited to adults, children as young as five can find something to do. The Girl Scout program and Cub Scout program provide many opportunities for service.

This is the only world I know. The way that I treat it, I believe, has an impact on how I live and feel and how the world and its inhabitants feel about me. If I see something that needs to be done and feel passionate about it, if I do not act, who will?

If someone sees a small fire and does not put it out, the end result can be destructive and deadly. How many small fires do we see throughout our day, that if we would just act, could be squelched and stopped in a short time? How many of those small fires are allowed to burn and destroy so much? We see it all of the time during the dry season. If someone would have not dropped that cigarette or made sure that their campfire was extinguished… If someone would have addressed their angry feelings, immediately, instead of letting them smolder and grow into a ‘forest fire’, what a better world we would have.

Think about the things that you have. Do you have enough that you could share just a little to someone or an organization that has nothing? Let’s take our positive haves and help out those that have nothing.

This is totally not where this blog was going today but this is where I was led. I hope that everyone has a chance to be led where they have never thought and make an impact in ways they could never imagine.

Luke 12:48 ‘But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone have been entrusted with much, even more will be required.’ (New Living Translation)