Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Questions Than Answers

Questions are a good way to learn. My grandkids have always known the value of well-placed questions. Their vocabulary is rich with why? and  how? Curiosity is a learning tool, and children have no qualms about asking questions about any topic.

At work, my co-workers often say, “I have a question for you.”

I like to reply, “I have answers.” Sometimes, I don’t really have answers, but until proven otherwise, it seems like a good response to the statement.

Then, there’s always the contingent that answers questions with questions. “Where do you want to have dinner?” might be answered, or should we say a non-answer, could be, “Where do you want to eat?”
On Sunday, Pastor Jared introduced me to a new concept: praying through questions. By forming prayer as a question, we can focus on what is important to us. It is amazing how easy it is to ask questions—especially for a person like me who has more questions than answers.

Some of the bold questions I have for God—what causes Alzheimer’s disease? Why can’t researchers find a cure for Alzheimer’s?

After all, isn’t research a matter of knowing what questions to ask, and then embarking on a quest to find the answers? Equally important is the wisdom to recognize the answers that are revealed to us.

Knowing how to ask the right questions is a methodical way to find solutions. When researchers try to find a cure for a multifaceted disease, Alzheimer’s, for example,  they ask a series of questions. Some of the brightest minds in the country have ask questions about Alzheimer’s.  

I find it interesting to check health news sources to see what studies and approaches are being used to find treatments or a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. So I search with the question in mind—what is being done about Alzheimer’s?

Painstaking research shows that changes in the brain foreshadow development of Alzheimer’s. These changes can take place a dozen years before any evident symptoms. New imaging technology allows researchers to see these subtle brain changes. In 2013, five drugs will be tested on 1500 individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s. The drugs being studied are designed to prevent Alzheimer’s from ever developing. How can Alzheimer’s be stopped when we don’t really know what causes it?

One researcher, Randall Bateman with Washington University in St. Louis, sees the development of Alzheimer’s disease as being much like the chain reaction that leads up to heart disease. How effective new drug therapies will be is uncertain, but it is certain that new drug therapies are much more likely to help future generations that those with the disease now. Why can’t a cure be found now, for the people who already have Alzheimer’s?

Maybe we need to trust in a higher authority to rid the world of Alzheimer’s once and for all. Pastor Jared’s message reminded me that you must ask, if you want to receive. Without questions, there would be no answers.

Copyright October 2012 by L.S. Fisher

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Season of Change

Some seasons are more challenging than others, and it seems that the seasons of change are the most difficult. As much as we get bored with the same old, same old, those days are more restful.

I woke up at three o’clock this morning and added a half dozen reminders to my cell phone task list before the alarm went off at five.

Why am I so geared up? We have changed computer software at work and today I close the month end books in a completely different way than I have for the past thirty years.

It’s not that I think I’m too old to learn, and most of the time I’m confident that everything will work out, but at three o’clock, nothing seems to be easy. My preoccupation with the changes in the workplace and the way that time seems to keep marching along, have seemed to overloaded the circuits in my brain. I’ve found myself forgetting more than I seem to remember. I’m usually reliable not only in my professional world but in my volunteer world.

It could be that I’ve taken on way too many things—ya think? It has come to the point that I need to practice the word “No” or the phrase “That doesn’t work for me.” I need to back off, but can’t decide what projects or causes need to be cut. I only take on those things I’m passionate about or that I enjoy.

My life is so busy that I don’t have any down time. I’m not recharging my mental batteries, and I’ve drained them to the point that I think they may need to be replaced. I’m not sure how that works.

These forty hour intense, nothing is routine anymore, workdays and evenings filled with working on one thing or another is wearing on body and soul. Oh, how I long for a morning drinking coffee and watching some mundane show on TV while I leisurely decide what I want to do that day.

The thing about change is it requires us to be flexible and adaptable. We can embrace change or resist change, but darn it—it’s going to come either way.

Deep inside, I love a challenge. I think I’ll just drink another cup of coffee and go for it. Thank goodness there’s only one Monday in a week and only one day that is the first day of any change.

Copyright © October 2012 by L. S. Fisher

Monday, October 1, 2012

Inspiration--Good for Your Health

I attended a conference in July where Dr. Mike Perko talked about inspiration. He talked about how other people can inspire us, and how we can inspire others through volunteering. Inspiration can help us to accomplish more than we ever dreamed possible.
One of the inspiring people Dr. Perko talked about was Oscar Pistoruis, from South Africa—the fastest man without legs. You may remember Oscar from the Olympics. Oscar ran the 400 meter semi-final race amid some controversy as to whether his carbon fiber blades gave him an advantage. He finished last, but was by no means a loser. He inspired people all over the world and more important than where he finished in the race was that he ran the race.
In church this morning, I learned that the origin of the word inspire means to breath in. Inspiration is literally the breath of life. Inspiration is what makes us more than our physical beings. When we are inspired, we change how we think and even how we feel about ourselves.
How less meaningful would life be without inspiration? Without inspiration, we would go through life without inhaling that sense of awe and wonder that boosts our spirits and gives us a feeling of balance with the world around us.
It doesn’t take fame or fortune to inspire others. One of my inspirations is my niece, Angie, who is battling cancer. Angie says that cancer gave her clarity. Things that once seemed important have been replaced with those that really are important—family and love. Angie posted on Facebook that her hair had started coming out in clumps, so with the help of her best friend and her husband, clippers, and a lot of sobbing, the hair came off. She said it would probably be awhile before she allowed any pictures to be posted. Two days later Angie posted a picture where she is wearing her beautiful smile and proudly sporting her new ’do. Today she posted a picture of her and her best friend, who shaved her own head too, with the caption, “Baldies stick together.” When someone faces adversity with a smile and a lust for life, it inspires others.
We find the purpose of our lives from the events that drop us to our knees, the times that touch our hearts and our souls. Jim’s dementia was that defining moment in my life when I felt a call to action and became an Alzheimer’s volunteer. It wasn’t long before I realized that my volunteer work helped me as much as it did anyone else.
Research shows that volunteering can be good for your health, attitude, and feelings of self worth. Volunteers are less depressed and healthier than people who do not volunteer. Older adults who volunteer for about two hours a week have additional benefits of higher function levels and increased longevity.
When you think about it, volunteering helps get your mind off yourself and increases your awareness of the more important aspects of life. Or as Angie would say, “Clarity.” 
Most of us aren’t in a position to change the world. What we can do is work on our little corner of the world to make it a better place. We can inhale breath from those who inspire us and exhale breath to help pass that inspiration on to those we care about, those we love. 
Copyright © October 2012 by L. S. Fisher