Monday, October 31, 2016

The Tricked and the Treated

Throughout my lifetime, I can remember different Halloween adventures. As we walked from home to home, we’d stop to pick up pears that had fallen to the ground. Word on the street would spread as to which homes had the popcorn balls or the best homemade cookies. Yes. Homemade.

In our town, you never heard of anyone tampering with candy. Halloween was fun and kids could count on being treated, and never cruelly tricked. The only trick for me was the upset stomach on All Saints Day from indulging in too many sweets the prior night.

Have you ever noticed that in life we know people who are tricked by life and others who are treated? Whether life brings rewards (treats) or disaster (tricks) doesn’t seem to have any correlation as to how deserving they are.

Good people get the biggest tricks of all—cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s. Bad people get big inheritances, win the lottery, and raise high in life by stepping on others. I’m not saying that all people who make it good in life are bad.

Badness comes from the core, not the outward trappings. Bad people trick good people because they have no conscience. They not only manipulate, they also revel in their power to sway gullible people. They bully and project their own shortcomings onto others.

Life doesn’t have a balance sheet. Good deeds for others doesn’t always produce dividends or reciprocation. Just as when someone cons you and takes advantage of you, don’t expect karma to bite them in the butt. Conniving a way to “get even” brings you down. Instead of revenge being sweet as Halloween candy, it’s more like biting into a razor blade hidden in an apple.

Personally, I’ve been both tricked and treated numerous times throughout my life. That’s the way it is for everyone. Maybe that’s where the balance is. Sometimes tricks turn into treats. I lost a job at a time when I couldn’t afford to lose the income. I found a much, much better one. When I was young, I had my heart broken. Then, I found my soul mate.

The thing about life is that when it hits rock bottom, it can’t possibly go any lower. Life is a cycle of good, bad, good, bad, good. Unless the rollercoaster flies off the rails, just hang on and enjoy the ride.

The choice is mine. Do I want to be one of the tricked or one of the treated? I choose to be treated.  

Copyright © October 2016 by L.S. Fisher

Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Alzheimer’s Novel: Brought to Our Senses by Kathleen H. Wheeler

I blog about early onset Alzheimer’s, and authors often ask me to read their books. If I believe I can squeeze in the time to read another book, I’ll ask for an electronic copy.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of reading a prepublication copy of Brought to Our Senses by Kathleen Wheeler, release date November 1. I don’t want to gush, but this is one of the best Alzheimer’s novels I’ve read…and I’ve read a lot of them.

Brought to Our Senses explores the family dynamics when early onset Alzheimer’s strikes the Kraus family’s mother. A dysfunctional family must reshape their differences to deal with the unthinkable. The distinct characters and the storyline make this a page-turner. This spellbinding story is so real to life that it is easy to forget it is a novel and not a true story.

I liken the quality of this book to that of Still Alice. If you only have time to read one Alzheimer’s novel this year, I would recommend this one.

Kathleen has kindly provided some background for me to share with my blog followers:  

Tell a Great Story: First and foremost, I wanted to tell a compelling story, one that just sucks you in from the get go. I’ve been drawn to reading and writing since I was a kid and have always wanted to write a novel. Once I grasped the premise for my book and realized what a great story it was, I just couldn’t let it go. I had to write it.
Build Awareness: I had other reasons for sharing the story too. Alzheimer’s was extremely traumatic for my family, and I’ve been changed by the experience. I wanted to share the reality of the illness, and I wanted to emphasize the importance of strong family relationships to get through such an ordeal.
Give Back: Finally, I wanted to do something positive for the community, something that would help others struggling with the difficulties of dementia. So I’m donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of my book to help organizations that support dementia patients, family caregivers, and research to find a cure.

Upcoming events: Here are a couple of those groups with events already lined up for my book’s release. If you’re in central Illinois, stop by or attend to see me and help with the efforts of these fine organizations:

SIU School of Medicine Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders
Alzheimer’s Awareness Educational Program

Free and open to public, register before or at the door as space permits
November 5, 2016 (Saturday) from 9 am – 12 noon

Memorial Center for Innovation and Learning
M.G. Nelson Family Auditorium
228 West Miller St, Springfield, IL

Alzheimer’s Association – Greater Illinois Chapter
Book Signing Benefit
November 15, 2016 (Tuesday) from 4:30 – 6:30 pm

County Market Mezzanine
210 E Carpenter St, Springfield, IL 62702

For up-to-date information, visit Kathleen’s author website:

Copyright © October 2016 by L.S. Fisher

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Take Me Away…

At line dancing exercise class last week, our fearless leader, Ruth, said that line dancing was her way to relieve stress and take her mind off her troubles.

“That’s what it does for me too!” I said. “No matter how bad a day I might have, I leave here in good spirits.”

Part of the reason is that while I exercise, I have to concentrate on the steps. By focusing on the dance, I empty my mind of all the troubling thoughts that may have been plaguing me.

This month was our annual “take me away” Girl’s Trip for my mom, my sisters, and me. Our short vacation was a relaxing kind of busy. Still, it must have tired me out, since I spent the entire first day back in my PJ’s doing absolutely nothing beyond eating and breathing.

I haven’t figured out how to live without a certain amount of stress, but retirement alleviated a lot of it. Now, I seldom have a headache, while it used to be an almost daily event. Even so, I have too many things to do and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them.

Here it is, almost Halloween, and I’ve yet to put up my fall decorations. I planned on doing that three weeks ago, but it just hasn’t happened. I used my decorations at the October SBW meeting, and until Wednesday, I still had them in the trunk of my car. Now, at least, I’ve brought them inside, and they are currently on the dining room table.

I have been a wee bit busy lately. I thought after the craziness of September that October would be a little more laid-back. Instead, my calendar is stacked, double stacked, and occasionally triple-stacked.

This last week has been Business Women’s Week with daily activities. Fortunately, some of the events were simply stress-busters too. One night was “relaxation night” and I participated in a Zumba class. Another night, we played Bunco with a lot of laughter and visiting. Dinners and luncheons were an opportunity to spend time with my friends.

Yesterday was the second day this month that I didn’t have something on my calendar. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything. I caught up on some of my accounting, updated a website, and helped with plans for the Alzheimer’s Symposium that Congresswoman Hartzler is hosting in Sedalia on November 10.

I will present a program on “Caregiver Emotions” at the symposium. I’ve given this program three times before—once at the Senior Center in Warsaw, for the Men’s Support Group in Columbia, and for family members who had loved ones in a nursing home. By addressing the individual emotions, a caregiver can alleviate caregiver stress.

Managing stress is a crucial step toward staying healthy. Left unchecked, stress can leave you vulnerable to high blood pressure, acid reflux, blurred vision, irritability, and problems with concentration. Caregivers tend to ignore their own health problems, which can lead to the caregiver dying before his loved one.

The last few months of ugly political rhetoric has created stress for a lot of us. Social media has turned into a firestorm of disagreement, meanness, name-calling, and wild stories re-tweeted and shared as if they were the gospel. I can only hope and pray that after the election, people will rebuild the bridges they’ve burned with their family and loved ones.

Now is the time for all of us to look for those “take me away” moments. I find it totally relaxing to sit on the deck drinking coffee and conversing with the dog. Reading a good book is another way of getting away from the day-to-day stress that creeps up on me.

Hallmark movies, the Voice, and reruns of the Golden Girls saw me through many stressful moments. Laughter is the best stress buster, and I’ve found that the old truism “Laughter is the best medicine” is undeniably true!

Copyright © October 2016 by L.S. Fisher

Friday, October 7, 2016

Give More Than You Get

We are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. I remember when my youngest son was young, he used to say, “Curtis and I want to go to Colorado and be mountain men.” One time my granddaughter told me that she wanted to be “Barbie” when she grew up.

I was watching a TV show several weeks ago and grown-ups were saying what they wanted to be when they “grew up.” One person said, “When I grow up, I want to give more than I get.”

Well, I never wanted to be Barbie or a mountain man, but I certainly admire the idea of giving more than I get. It’s only natural for us to look out for numero uno. After all, we’re looking at the world through one set of eyes and from one perspective. With our limited vision of the world around us some find it easier to be selfish than to be selfless.

Does it do any good to measure what others own to what we have? Coveting another’s possessions creates a miserable existence. Those who have little might envy those who have more, or those who have a lot might look down on people who have less.

Some people are innately generous, for example a child who gives his or her favorite toy to a friend. More common are the children who grab a coveted toy out of another child’s hands.

The odd thing is that often people who are the most sharing are those who have the least. Maybe it isn’t so strange after all. People who have accumulated a lot of wealth sometimes do so by pinching each penny until it screams. They’ve worked hard for what they have, and they don’t think anyone else deserves the fruit of their labor. Wealth can be a prison of fear and anxiety.

I came from a home with two hard-working parents who struggled to provide for a family with eight children. We never had a lot, but Mom and Dad instilled into each of us that a person’s worth was not tied to how many material possessions he had amassed.

Instead of telling us to go out into the world and try to be rich, our parents guided us toward being independent, hard-working adults who took satisfaction in being good people. We were taught that we weren’t better than the less fortunate, and we weren’t less than the wealthy. We were raised in a share and share alike environment, and it has lasted each of us for a lifetime. There is not a selfish member in my family!

One of the most generous people I’ve known in my lifetime was Jim. He would not only give someone the shirt off his back, he actually gave my brother the buttons off his uniform. He gave away a priceless tater bug mandolin and a valuable Gibson guitar. I would say throughout his life, he gave much more than he received. Greed wasn’t in his vocabulary.

Although dementia greedily snatched him away physically, he left an indelible impact on the lives he touched. Throughout his life, a circle of family and friends surrounded him with love.

Jim was one of the people who gave more than he got during his lifetime. No, he didn’t leave a monetary inheritance. What he left was a richness of memories, stories, and love of family.   That is admirable in itself, but I think even more important is that when he passed away, he left more than he took.

Copyright © October 2016 by L.S. Fisher