When life is chaotic and uncertain, it’s important to be thankful for the beautiful things (or people) we’re surrounded by. They are easy to overlook, especially in difficult times.
Tag Archives: life
My cursor blinks rhythmically on the screen, waiting… I sit in front of it, compelled to write something about how I am feeling after watching the most disturbing and depressing movie I have perhaps ever seen. After watching it last night, I cried as I looked deeper into the issue of assisted suicide, or as it has been deceivingly called: Death with Dignity.
I thought about diving into the issue of suicide, whether “assisted” or not, of depression, loss, etc. I thought of how to weave my empathy for those suffering from debilitating mental illnesses, chronic pain, terminal illnesses or life-changing accidents, into the very divided issues of death, dying and our “right to choose.” And while I pour over the sadness and pain these people no doubtingly feel, there are also those who never get such a “chance:” children who would choose life but never will be able; children who have never known anything but death, destruction and disability, like 5-year old Omran from Syria.
So as my cursor blinks and my heart aches with my racing mind… how does one address such an issue? For certain, it is not one issue, but a multi-faceted topic that touches each human being on this Earth. We have all known death. Pain. Loss of some form. Known or experienced first hand mental illness. We have all been faced with choices that have altered our lives forever. And depending on how we have experienced these, coupled with our beliefs, we as a people have wide views on such hard topics. Some may argue that because of these different beliefs and experiences, are we all correct in our thinking? If you can make a fair argument for why this man should be allowed to take his life, are you right? If I can make a fair argument in opposition, am I not also right? We use words such as “choice,” “this is my body,” “my life.” As a fellow blogger put it: we live in the era of ME.
But I do not want to discuss choices or right and wrong. I think my position is probably clear that I am for life. I do not say pro-life because I am not limiting my statement to abortion. I am for all life. Every life is worth living. And so, in opposition to the movie (yet so appropriately titled), Me Before You, I would like to celebrate examples of lives that could have been seen as lost, but instead were turned into something extraordinary.
I first read the book about Joni Eareckson Tada before the age of 12, at the recommendation of my mother. An incredible athlete from a young age, Mrs. Tada became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a diving accident. Like the character in the film, she experienced the depression and helplessness of her new disability. Yet with beautiful dignity, she did not choose death. Instead, she became a famous artist using her tongue to create unbelievable artwork for the whole world to admire.
Another example and similar story is that of Marcus C. Thomas. He was a triathlete who also became a quadriplegic after a horrible accident. He learned to paint using only his tongue. Like Tada, he has given the world not only inspiration and perseverance, but also true beauty through his story and artwork.
A woman named Celestine Tate Harrington did not suffer a tragic accident, but instead, was born with a congenital joint condition that eventually left her without the use of her arms and legs. But she lived her life happily, and was known for her cheerful, bubbly personality. In addition to her contagious disposition, she was an accomplished street musician. More astonishingly than that, she gave birth to a little girl and fought for custody in the most remarkable way: After seeking public assistance for her child, she instead found herself before a judge and courtroom ready to deem her unfit because of her disability. To the complete surprise of them and the world, she dressed and undressed her baby girl in the courtroom using only her teeth! She won custody of her daughter, and a year later, moved her and her daughter to their own home. She supported them both by the money she earned playing music using only her mouth! She died at the age of 42 from complications of her condition.
Another remarkable story is that of Talia Joy Castellano. She battled childhood cancer bravely for over six years until her death at the age of 13. She used her living years to create YouTube makeup videos, showing the world both her struggle and beauty. She was also a Covergirl model with a YouTube channel that amassed a huge, supportive following.
There have been many other stories of children who battled and died of cancer who, instead of choosing death, used their lives to do amazing things for the world. Trevor Sims died of cancer at the age of 11, but not before using his illness and struggle to raise money and food donations for the Baton Rouge Food Bank.
These are just a few of the countless people who have lived their lives to the fullest. I have no doubt that they faced fear over their conditions, depression and maybe even wished they could end their suffering early. But they saw the beauty in their lives and embraced it, in turn, leaving our world that much brighter because of their struggle.
They saw the truth: Every life is worth living.
I grew up in a suburb near Boston, Massachusetts. My father was a school principal and in the later years my mother worked as a bookkeeper. In the early years my mother stayed home to raise us and money was tight, especially during the inflationary period in the seventies, but my parents watched every penny and made it work. As a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, life was simple.
Necessities Were Simple
The home I grew up in was a modest, split-level home. Throughout most of my childhood I wore hand me downs or clothing bought at steep sale prices. If the clothes didn’t fit right my mother would get out her sewing machine and work her magic. We had all of our basic necessities taken care of. We ate three meals a day all made from scratch, and we didn’t own a microwave until I was a teenager. We also had a small garden in our backyard that provided green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lots of berries throughout the summer. I still remember my father sitting on the front steps of our house, snapping the ends off the green beans, and putting them in a large bucket of water while I played in the front yard.
For most of my early childhood we didn’t have cable television. In fact, our television couldn’t have been more than 22 inches big with a thick brown frame and large rabbit ears that always pointed north. It did the job. For entertainment I was sent outside to play with the other kids in the neighborhood. We didn’t have fancy toys, but we had each other. We did have some board games and we got bikes for Christmas, but overall it didn’t take very much to make us happy. “Kick-the-Can” was our favorite game to play and it required nothing more than a soda can. Most of the time all we needed to have fun was our imagination.
Celebrations Were Simple
Birthday parties were easy. We would invite some kids from the neighborhood over and my mother would bake a cake and serve it with some ice cream. When we were young we played “Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey”. For decorations we would string up some balloons and buy some cheap party hats. Nothing fancy. For special events my parents would invite guests for a backyard BBQ and throw some hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill.
Entertainment Was Simple
For music we had a record player. My father liked to play Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary, while my mother liked to play Olivia Newton-John and The Beatles. One Christmas I got my very own record player that played 45’s. About twice a year we all went to the movie theater and I will never forget seeing the movie E.T. on the big screen. What a movie! We didn’t have a VCR until I was about fourteen years old. Back then VCR’s could only record one thing and it would be what you were presently watching. Not sure why we needed this thing. As time went by we started to see video rental places pop up and they quickly became our source for watching movies.
Communication Was Simple
Our phone was a corded rotary phone. We communicated in person or by telephone, and day-to-day business was conducted mostly by snail mail via the U.S. Post office. We used to order things from catalogs by phone, and in the second week of November my sister and I could hardly contain our excitement as we waited for the Sears “Wish Book” to arrive. If you’re not familiar with the Sears “Wish Book”, I would have to describe it as the coolest and biggest toy catalog on the planet! My sister and I would battle over who got to look at the catalog first, until we were eventually told by our parents that Santa wouldn’t come if we continued to misbehave. Both of us used to spend countless hours pouring over the catalog and perfecting our list for Santa.
Technology Was Simple
The first video game console we got was Atari and our first game was Atari Pong. Picture a black screen with a vertical white line down the middle. We had a about a two-inch, small white line on both the left and right side of the screen that acted as the paddles, and a ball that moved horizontally back and forth across the screen. The paddles had limited mobility and moved up and down in a straight line. I’m embarrassed to admit that my sister and I would spend hours and hours playing this stupid game. My homework was done first on a typewriter, then on a word processor. Do they still have those? The first computer I ever saw was a black and white Apple computer that took up the entire table in my high schools new computer room. I took my first computer class as a Junior in high school and also got my very first F. Trust me when I say back then computers were complicated. At the time, it didn’t occur to me how life changing this new technology would turn out to be.
Things Are Different Now
Today families buy frozen, prepared meals and pop them in the microwave, or they stop off for fast food as they shuttle their kids back and forth from their expensive after school activities.
If they go outside and play, it’s free.
Birthday parties require a cake from the bakery. Ponies and bounce houses are rented, or better yet, professional party planners are hired to take care of all the details and make life easier.
Do those $600 dollar designer cakes really taste better than homemade?
We have high-speed internet, cable, and high-definition smart tv’s with theater systems that make you feel like you’re at the movies. For a few thousand dollars up front and a couple hundred a month, you’re all set. Movies and music can be downloaded at an instant for a small charge.
Don’t worry! I’m sure all that radiation and those electromagnetic fields we created are perfectly safe. Besides, you have spend your income on something.
We have five and six hundred-dollar smartphones with contracts that run a couple hundred dollars or more per month, which are used to communicate mostly by text.
People? What are they? And we definitely need the internet on our phones. How else are we to keep up with Facebook? We need to be able to report that we are getting gas and picking up some new underwear. If we don’t have texting, how in the world will we be able to tell our friends that we should both wear red socks today? This is important stuff! We’ll die without it!
Game consoles are so advanced, you would think you’re playing the game for real. Remember the movie Tron where a teen get’s sucked into a video game? Well it’s now a reality. With several hundred dollars for the console and a cost of $50 per game on average, you too can experience this mind-blowing technology.
Has anyone stopped to think what some of these games might to doing to the minds of children?
Modern day vehicles are now computerized. Instead of a steering wheel, a gas pedal and brakes, cars now have computers that entertain us and give us directions. With all of the new devices, automakers have made it easy to hook everything up so we can talk and text. Nowadays most people do just about everything while driving.
Soon to be released on the market are self driving cars. Now people will be able to cook themselves breakfast or paint their toenails on their way to work. Does anyone out there know how to read a map? Remember those?
Where Does It Stop?
Cashiers are disappearing as we automate the registers. Waitresses are disappearing as we automate the ordering process. Banks are disappearing as we do most of our banking online. Receptionists are disappearing because we automated our phone systems. Customer service is disappearing so we can talk to a computer. Tax professionals are disappearing because new software has allowed all of us to become experts. Office workers are disappearing as we become paperless. Retail stores are slowly disappearing as online purchases continue to grow. And thanks to this new cloud technology, many more jobs are expected to disappear. Who’s next? Will drones replace our delivery drivers?
We suffer from a lack of employment, underemployment, student loan debt, credit card debt, and there are many who are barely able to save a dime. Crime is at an all time high, our schools are plagued with violence, family units are broken, and we live in a nation of people who grow angrier by the day. With a nation either at war or heading into war, carrying a national debt load of $18,155,729.727.216.00 with a population equal to 321,663.649 to pay it off…what comes next?
Even though I grew up with rose-colored glasses, I still miss the simple life.
Image of Boston Public Garden courtesy of Erin McDaniel, Image of Retro TV courtesy of Wittaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Life is full of big events. Changes that are difficult and those that we look forward to with arms wide open. Then there are the choices, both small and significant. Sometimes, the decisions seem more obvious than others. For example, homeschooling my children. While it was a big decision, it was an easy one for me to make. My husband has always been for public school, but he supported my desire to home educate. Surprisingly, the more difficult choices along the way have been what curriculum is best and for what child.
Since making that decision years ago, three more kids have come into our world, and now another is on the way. My sixth pregnancy was a difficult one. For reasons I cannot explain, my hormones hit me hard and I suffered severe depression. I went through our day to the best of my ability, but it was a struggle. But, baby was born and the debilitating hormones vanished with the belly. Life continued to move on. More changes… a move still in process, seven months now! And we adapt, some days getting little done because the house needed to be shown. Weeks were broken up moving from place to place. But still, we adapted, the kids and I, taking each day and its struggle as it came. And then we found out baby seven was coming. My husband decided it would be best for the kids to go to public school in January. This was not a discussion, but his decision. My heart broke into pieces. I was filled with doubts in all areas. Did I ever think I could educate them all the way through high school? Sure, I know successful, well adjusted, happy kids who finished their educations at home. But that was them. This is me and mine. And what about their adjustment into school? Sure, they are strong, good kids who have adapted many times over, riding each wave as it came. But still, the ache in my heart is there and the mixture of emotions – relief, guilt, fear and anxiety. Suddenly school work doesn’t even seem important (don’t freak – we’re doing it). I want more time!! More time to paint and make crafts. To have them help me with meals. To snuggle on the couches together, reading, playing, or just being together. Running around the empty parks (a perk of being a homeschooler), anything! Time is so precious, so short and fleeting. Regardless of where your kids are during the day, the reality is our time together with our children is only a small portion of their lives. But for a mama used to having her brood with her all day, everyday, that time seems to be slipping through the hour glass at an accelerated rate. What could I have done differently? Anything?? What can I do now? I look in their eyes and my heart is filled with such longing. Longing for more….