Inspired

Happy Monday, folks. Between the two blogs and the normal day-to-day (with the extra life throws in as one goes), I’ll most likely be alternating my posting schedule. Thank you for your continued kind support.

These past few weeks, I’ve had varied reasons to reflect on drive: that inner something that propels one through the challenges life brings; keeping one’s focus on the prize despite obstacles (external and internal). For some reason, my mind jet-setted to a lady patient I had in my first, in-patient rehab setting.

This lovely lady will go by Margaret (not her real name). Margaret was about 65 when she came to me. She was much disfigured and disabled by a long-standing history of rheumatoid arthritis. Diabetes had also taken its typical (associated) toll on her vision and circulation: she was legally blind and had been admitted to rehab due to a below-the-knee amputation of one of her legs.

Margaret couldn’t really turn her head b/c of the arthritic changes. Her fingers were thick little sausages that couldn’t open wide enough to really hold on to a walker. And her hips and knees were already fairly contracted into flexed positions.

Little by little, Margaret shared pieces of her story. Sometimes, more than I wanted to know, on a highly-detailed and personal level. She had many a reason to be bitter and resentful of her past, but was one of the kindest, quietest patients ever.

Because of her multiple deformities and weakened state, no one expected much of this tiny, hunched lady. She was fitted with a prosthesis anyway. The physical therapist most likely adapted her walker so she could hold on to it, and Margaret found a way. She was able to walk short distances with her very-devoted daughter nearby, enough to manage in her living space.

For some reason, she wasn’t able to return home right away and wound up on an ‘alternate level of care’ at our sister facility. Unfortunately, ‘alternate level’ wasn’t good. Long story short, Margaret wound up with an amputation of the other leg, ABOVE the knee.

Anyone who has worked with prosthetic patients knows that walking with two below-the-knee prostheses takes less energy than getting around with one above-the-knee.

To this day I don’t know how she did it, but Margaret pulled it off. There was no way she should have accomplished what she did, but I’m thinking her drive, spirit and motivation made the difference. So did her daughter’s support.

Who am I to make excuses when I remember that?

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When You Take That Step Back…

A solution often shows.

Hi all and welcome to the next-to-last Monday of June. We are six months into 2014. How does time keep going faster?

Wimbledon is underway today. All the best to Andy Murray, defending champion, and all the players competing, especially the qualifiers. This is the professional tennis world’s biggie tournament, especially when it comes to prestige.

Ma n Kev  Mamma and YS (18 months)

Younger Son is a great kid, but definitely a work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure a Plan A, B, C, etc and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this 15.5-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Aside: He finally agreed to join me on the tennis court this past weekend. If he practices and gets a feel for the court, his serve and winners have potential to take my head off. (Must be all that weight-lifting turning him into a power hitter.)

Back to the post: This past November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) “My suggestion: try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the upcoming school year.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He’s come up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Kevin kindergarten school pic Kindergarten

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about before? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting near his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he usually wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up–he needs it to graduate. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

photo (49)  One of my favorite pics, when YS played with the rec league. 

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it?

Have a great day everyone!

Joanna

 

Working on Consistency (and Inspired Some More :)

Hi everyone. Hope everyone is having a great week and not overdoing any leftover Halloween candy. I’m always scrounging out the Mounds and Almond Joys. They’re few and far between, but M & Ms work too—anyone try the candy corn ones? Those are definitely different, in an addictive, not-sure-I-like-them kind of way. ;)) What are your favorites?

Life keeps handing me these highly convenient “coinkidinks,” as my boys’ kindergarten teacher used to say. And y’all know, when I’m feeling inspired, I like to tell you about it! (If nothing else, it’s a reason for me to write up a blog post, lol.)

So…

Recently, I took my mom’s car for inspection. She failed emissions and we finally got it to a place to check it out. She wasn’t thrilled with the repair-price tune of near-$500, so we took it elsewhere. The second guy said the quote we got was fair. Hubby wasn’t all that thrilled with the second guy, so a couple of days later, I took mom’s car back to the first shop.

No one was at the desk in the office. I waited a few minutes, and the door opened behind me. The younger guy who normally mans the computer came in.

“Is anybody helping you?”

I shrugged. “Not yet. Aren’t you the important guy?”

“I’m off,” he said, but headed into the garage. He came back with the older guy, who has to be 80-something.

I reminded them they’d diagnosed my mom’s car, but I was clueless about what I’d done with the printout, which listed the work that needed to be done. “I figured you have it in your computer and can pull it up, right?”

Older guy’s mouth gapped a bit while he offered a slight, negative shake of his head. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Younger guy stepped in, tapped a few keys and out came my printout. More customers came in. “You want the car tomorrow?”

I smiled, nodded and pulled open the door. “Get out now,” I said in a loud whisper, before I exited.

Now tell me younger guy just happened to come in on his day off exactly when I needed him to be there.

Life changing?

Nah.

Inspiring?

Always.

Hey, I’m always up to stories of the like. How about sharing yours? And maybe this post with some of your friends, via one of the share buttons below?

Many thanks!

Be inspired, and have a great day, friends!

Joanna

Did The Kids Figure This One Out on Their Own?

Or do they just “get” something the rest of us don’t?

Happy Thursday after Easter, friends!

I apologize for not getting this up last week. Impending Spring Break messes with timelines for school-related paperwork, which has to take priority. (I always wonder though: God-forbid something serious happened to the person doing the write-up a few days prior–i.e., an injury–doesn’t the paperwork NOT get in on time? Does life stop because of that? Just sayin’… :))

Anyway, these thoughts were inspired by a conversation between me and my older guy a few weeks ago.

Most Friday mornings I drop my sixteen year-old son off at school. Our other regular passenger is his ‘girlfriend.’ I keep asking myself why I still put quotes around that word; they haven’t broken up once, and she’s been around three years (plus).

Yep. 1/26/10: that used to be part of my older guy’s text signature. This year, that date fell on a Saturday. It wasn’t until AFTER I picked them up at The Olive Garden that I realized why they’d made dinner plans and just assumed someone would drop them off and pick them up. (Yeah, the mommy in me got a little cranky with them doing that, but I’d missed the bigger picture up front. I got over it soon enough. And I got on my kid’s case about getting her flowers. Won’t tell you he’s lazy, but he can be a bit lackadaisical when it comes to doing things.)

Back to Friday mornings. He was doing his hair for school—I swear he’s the daughter I never had when it comes to his appearance—and I happened to ask about a woman who is best friends with the girlfriend’s mother. (Names are made up.)

“How’s Melanie?”

“She’s good.”

“Did she and Henry get back together?”

“Yeah. They’re back and forth all the time. They fight over stupid stuff. They’re like teenagers.”

“Have you and Fiona ever have a fight?”

“Not really. Her mom and Melanie are envious of us. They want to know what our secret is.”

I laughed. “I’ll tell you the secret: control. You and Fiona don’t try to do that to each other. You let each other be.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

Funny. I’ve got a pair of teen sweethearts who inherently get that. (Hubby and I do okay in that department, but every now and again it creeps up. Then we deal and hopefully have learned something new about each other, eighteen years down the married line.)

I’ve watched these kids in action over the past three years. Like her mom who grew up the youngest of five and the only girl, Fiona’s friends are mostly boys, the same ones who are my son’s core group. (Doesn’t seem to phase him none, to his credit.) Her appearance matters but she’s no diva, which is nice.

She and my son spend a ton of time together, but neither cares if one does something without the other. And—thank God!—there’s NONE of the ridiculous, “You can’t talk to that girl” or vice versa. (I’d probably bean either or both if they did. Can’t stand that nonsense.)

We’ve spent vacation time with her family and she’s come away with us. Spend that much time with someone, s/he’s bound to get on one’s nerves. Not so with this girl. They’re a lot alike—even resemble each other a bit—in how overall easygoing each one is.

Got me thinking about how much control gets in the way of having ANY relationship, and not necessarily a romantic one.

When one lives and lets live, life is so much easier on both sides. I can be me without worrying about feeling judged. Disagreements are seen as differences of opinion and not as a personal affront (most of the time anyway). I can do what I need to do without worrying someone else is going to get bent out of shape. When that goes both ways with a spouse, parent, child or friend, I’m can pretty much guarantee a respectful, peaceful and mutually satisfying relationship where two-way interaction just flows naturally.

What are your thoughts on this? Any experiences come to mind that you’d care to share? If positive, what made them so? And if not, how did you deal?

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week–that means we can actually start going again! I’m psyched! 😀

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week--that means we can actually start going again! I'm psyched! :D

Have a great day, all!

Joanna

On A Virtual Visit with Babette James…

Happy first Friday in August folks–hey! Didn’t July start just the other day? Where did it go?

I’m visiting with fellow Liberty States Fiction Writers member Babette James today! She’s been kind enough to offer me the opportunity to share the topic of my recent talk at the Howell Twp Public Library in NJ. So if you couldn’t be there in person, here are the highlights of my chat with some very nice folks who took time out of their busy Saturday to hear what I had to say.

You’ll find a little sneak-peak there as well. Come on over: http://babettejames.com/2012/08/03/what-id-do-differently-by-joanna-aislinn/

Joanna

Force A Solution?

Not always the way to go for me.

Good day, friends. Hoping this Tuesday finds you all well.

Wow. This calendar year is flying; Memorial Day weekend (and the French Open Tennis Championships :)) both start next week. Then a few more weeks to another school year closing–where does time go?

Brings me to how busy this past weekend was–all good–but I wasn’t able to get something new together. I have three works-in-progress going on right now and struggling a bit with direction for each. I can do internal stories pretty well; those external plots get me crazy. Translation: I’ve been getting myself a little nuts with plotting books, templates, etc and am so jumbled with ideas I’m getting nowhere. So, because this older post is a great illustration of where I am right now in my writing journey, I thought I’d pop it up here again. I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. And, as always, if the article speaks to you and you believe someone else can benefit from it, please click a SHARE button before you go!

The 30-40-minute meal I promised Stephanie should be up Friday! Hope to see you then 🙂

Have a wonderful day,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control (Part 3): The Fruits of Discipline

Happy Tuesday, friends! Hope this week is treating you all well so far. For those of you catching up with this particular series, here are links to the preceding posts. I’m hoping you don’t get sidetracked and remember to come back! 😀

Discipline V. Control–Part 1

Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Back to the fruits of discipline, I recently got to watch first-hand a great example of how my son and his friends are utilizing their current repertoire of fishing skills. As many of you know from previous posts, kids are often at my house and usually hanging out in the kitchen when I’m getting dinner ready or cleaning. We often engage in conversation and I take every opportunity I can to teach. (One can hope I do so without being preachy and/or without showing surprise, shock or disapproval for all the stuff kids know nowadays that I had probably just begun learning at their age. They keep coming back, so maybe I’m doing something right? I also happen to love middle-school and now, high-school-aged kids. If they don’t feel judged, they’re very open and a whole lot of fun to have around.)

Anyway, I had my older son’s ‘core crowd’ over on a Friday evening. One of the boys grabbed his coat too when his ‘girlfriend’s’ mother (the one whose dad is said to be strict) came to pick her up. He wanted a ride to a party to which he’d been invited by another friend who wasn’t present at the moment. Because he was in my house, I went into mother-mode and started asking questions.

In short, this boy couldn’t come up with the better responses any parent hopes to hear when a kid is off to a high-school party. The boy who invited the dude at my house was reported to have met the party host, a senior, earlier that day—and the inviter is not known for sound judgment up front.

Mind you, I’m dealing with freshmen. I also was not in a position to tell the invitee he couldn’t go, which I made clear to him as I plied him with queries for details of where he was headed.

The core crowd of kids at my house chimed in, advising this guy to not go (for all the right reasons, too). He put on his jacket anyway and left with his girlfriend. He was back in five minutes’ time, having opted to hang out at my house for the rest of the evening. (He’s recently joined the wrestling team and voices liking how it keeps him out of trouble by being busy after school.)

Could I have asked for better? No way. This was peer pressure at its most positive. My older son’s core crowd of friends is far from perfect, but that incident shows me they’re—fingers crossed—on their way to making more sound decisions as time goes on. Makes me feel good too, to know these are the kids my son is with outside the house. I also realize this is a just-for-today moment, but can pray that more of these will string together on their road to adulthood.

At least this post turned out a little shorter, lol. Your thoughts? Experiences? I’d love for you to take a moment and share yours here. We parents and guardians are on an immensely challenging journey of raising kids to face a world far bigger and menacing than the one with which our parents had to deal.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Thanks so very much!

Wishing each of you a joyful day,

Joanna