Memorial Day: Sad Lessons

Day 38

usa flagIn the United States we celebrate Memorial Day to remember the people who died while serving in the armed forces. It’s the time to visit cemeteries with flags and flowers. It’s the time to attend parades and celebrations.

I often think about the men and women who did not die in the war but took their lives after they returned home. The veterans who couldn’t deal with the trauma of what they experienced. Those who couldn’t turn off the sights, sounds, and terror of the night. They returned in a wounded state and were unable to function. Are they considered heroes as well? Are they celebrated and memorialized or is there a stigma attached to their death? It’s clear they weren’t killed by an enemy bullet but the enemy did have a part in their death.

The suicide rate for returning veterans is over 10 times higher than the general public. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not track suicide trends among veterans of specific military units. And some units do not track suicides of former service members at all. I’ve read that over 100,000 returning Vietnam vets have committed suicide. And now the younger men and women are following in their shoes. I’ve learned that we all have a story. This one needs to change.

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Day 37

I’ve learned to say Yes more often. To accept leadership roles, to hike a steep mountain, to visit large cities and small shops. I learned that I can say YES and if life gets too overwhelming to say, ENOUGH for now. I’ve learned by saying Yes, I am inviting an entire new set of circumstances into my life. New people, ideas, books, articles, opinions, tastes and vistas.

Arms out wide shouting YES!Saying Yes is scary too. It forces me to show up when I’d rather lie low. It makes me take deep breaths and look around with fresh eyes. Yes gets me in the door and then I can decide how long to stay.

Yes forces me to move whether I am ready or not. I said Yes at an early age to marriage, to motherhood, to uprooting and moving across the country, to returning to college to get my degree, to working as a waitress while I worked on my degree, to living life in a way that could only happen then. Without saying Yes, I would have missed out on meeting so many people who are now friends. At each workplace, I met someone new and wonderful. I learned from amazing bosses and bad administrators. I took chances and had friends in place to catch me when I fell.

I like going to the edge of my comfort zone and just sitting there for a bit until the discomfort fades away. The fear slowly subsides while I’m interacting with my environment – visiting the sites, meeting people, starting conversations, and staying engaged.

When I find myself in a rut, I start finding reasons to say Yes again. Yes to joining organizations, Yes to cleaning out my garage, Yes to asking for help, Yes to reading a new author, Yes to listening to new musicians, Yes to relocating, Yes to a trip — HECK yeah!

Then, in the quiet hours I reviewed the things that I said Yes to and get scared again. Why did I say Yes to that and that and that and that? What was I thinking? And yet, I learned something new, enjoyed a new band, walked a new trail, made a new friend. I know there are times to say NO and I will when the time comes. I promise I will but for now I realized I have more fun when I say Yes. I get more done and feel more satisfied at the end of the day.

For now, Yes is my friend and teacher.

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Day 36

I learned (once again) how much I love walking in the morning. I love the way the light shines on flowers and how clean the air smells. I try to take my camera with me in case there is something I want to capture. My tulips and flowers morning walk1favorite things include landscapes and colorful flowers. I wish I could capture the smell as well – that fresh early morning dewy smell.

 

Learning about Grand Teton National Park

Day 30-Day 35 – Grand Tetons

I recently traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It was a quick 4 day visit and full of glorious views. Below are things I learned about the Tetons that I thought I’d share with you…

Amazing video about the wildlife and Grand Teton National Park.

Lesson: Grand Teton is the highest mountain in Grand Teton National Park, in Northwest Wyoming, and a classic destination in American mountaineering. It’s a popular destination for hiking, fishing, canoeing, boating, photographing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and scenic drives.

Grand TetonsLesson: Grand Teton National Park has about 310,000 acres and or about 485 miles of land and water. The park was established in February 1929.

Lesson: The Teton mountain range is about 40 miles long. The major peaks of the Teton Range were carved into their current shapes by glaciers.

grand tetons- oh myLesson: Grand Teton National Park is located a mere ten miles from Yellowstone National Park.

Lesson: Some history books say the Tetons were named by the French because they look like teats. Other books dispute it. I like this story and agree.

The majestic views are stunning beyond compare. They jut out of the landscape and command your attention. The trouble is every view is a photo opportunity. When the path I hiked went to the east or west, the views were breath-taking and out came the camera.

tetonsWe were told to Beware Bears and one hiker told of his encounter with a mother and her two cubs. I was happy to say there were no bears on my hike. Amen!

 

Which bear did I see video?

Drugs, Books & Buddies

DAY 29

I learned about a deadly drug called Flakka that can be found in abundance in Florida. This drug is made from a synthetic version of the stimulant cathinone, the same class of chemical used to make bath salts.

The khat plant, which grows in parts of the Middle East as well as Somalia, is the source of cathinones. The leaves of the plant are often chewed to achieve euphoria or a high, however, that high can be as potent as crystal meth or cocaine. It causes people to act totally out of their minds – erratically, uncontrollably and dangerously.

This highly addictive drug originated from China and has been traced to Florida, Texas and Ohio so far. The users of this drug have a high that can last 3-4 hours but it harms the body physically and physiologically it triggers anxiety, paranoia and delusions.

It’s scary stuff… Click to watch youtube video.

Read More:

DAY 28

One book I recently read was called Dead Wake by Erik Larson. It’s a story about the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Some of the story was conjecture but plenty of it was information from passengers on-board. The luxury liner was hit and sank within 18 minutes. It was crazy that the ship sailed into a harbor during war and didn’t have an escort. And once the ship was hit, the one battle ship that could have reached the site in an hour turned back to it’s harbor according to wartime policy. Instead help didn’t arrive for 6 more hours. It was an amazing story and I relearned quite a bit about the U.S. political scene, war in Europe, and issues that heads of state were dealing with at the time.

DAY 27

I learned that I should totally delete my Yahoo.com account because everyday messages get sent to my spam folder. I found messages from my son and emails from traveling friends who write to reschedule — only Yahoo spams it. Geesh.

Gmail is where I need to focus now and get friends and family to convert to the new address.

Day 26

I learned to appreciate how different schools work to connect their students.  At my grandson’s elementary school, each first grader is paired with a 5th grader. This person is their Buddy and they stay in contact throughout the school year – checking in, high fives in the hallway, visits in the library as a way to help the young children feel connected. The relationship allows the 5th graders to lead, teach and bond with their younger counterpart.

As a thank you, the first graders are going to sing some songs to their Buddies. This is one song that my grandson was singing, called My Wish by Rascal Flatts.

It’s the learning that matters!

Day 25

I heard a new singer today and really enjoy her music. Her name is Regina Spektor. I found her on youtube.com then downloaded her music for a month using Hoopla. Most of all I listened to her songs and videos on youtube. It was pretty, whimsical and engaging. I wanted to hear more and more.

Day 24

Have you ever watched Grace and Frankie on Netflix.com? It’s a comedy about two women in their 70’s who are recently divorced. How and why that happens is where the comedy comes in. The serious part of the story involves the sadness of being divorced 70-year-old women. The issues they never expected to have to face – saying goodbye to their long-held identities, figuring out who they are without spouses, managing expenses, reentering the dating world, learning to trust and love again and so much more. I watch the show and laugh out loud, then take a deep breath and sigh.

The show is my reminder to keep learning, growing, making friends and reaching out. Everything is temporary. The bills that are a struggle to pay, the calories consumed by that amazing cheesecake, the books I read and loved, the books I started and hated and didn’t finish (life it too short to waste on a bad book, trust me) and all those opportunities I passed along with all those amazing adventures I accepted – Temporary.

The big blackboard in the sky doesn’t care if we say YES a hundred time and NO 879 times. It’s what we learn along the way. It could end tomorrow (if so, please return my library books) or not for decades down the road. Right?  Netflix.com

Day 23

I live in a world where many people come into my life. I learn something from each and every one of them. I learn about their jobs, families, hobbies, fears, desires and hopes and dreams. Then they leave and others come into my world and I learn more. While I am learning, I am sharing. It’s a beautiful circle and I feel blessed to be part of it.

Day 22

I learned how to dole out simple joys. Like Grace and Frankie. A new season means that I can turn on the show and watch all 13 episodes on the same day. My preference is to spread out the joy. Pace myself. Once I get to the last episode it’s over. Take my time. Sort of like taking one present at a time at Christmas and making it an event. Then sitting back and watching the others open their gifts – giving them my time and attention. Once the gifts are unwrapped, it’s over. Know what I mean? Sort of?

Whoa, enough for one day! Hope yours was a good one. Now go forth and learn something new and wonderful today – then share it with me! HA!

This Path Tonight, Hiking Paths and more lessons

Day 21  

Duh, I just learned the correct way to post these so the numbers run in a sensible manner. Geesh. Only three weeks into the process, that’s not too bad, right?

Day 20

I learned from a friend who was car shopping that when there is no give – it’s time to go. My friend had done all kinds of research before entering the car dealership and still the salesman was only giving her the $1500 discount for being a Costco member. Nothing for her trade in. No wiggle room.

After 2 hours she got up and left. “Will you be going home to get your checkbook?” she was asked.  “Nope,  just going home,” she said. She was willing to pay cash and everything. She’s in no hurry and instead of buying her brand new Mazda SUV, she may look at Toyota or Hondas or something else in the same realm.

I love hearing these kinds of stories.

Day 19

I took a great walk today and relearned how much I enjoy the combination of walking, birds singing and fresh air. The walk was under the bluest of skies with no clouds to be found. The lake and meadow I was walking around was filled with prairie dogs movement, coyotes and rabbits. Not to be undone the sounds of birds were loud and sweet.

I learned how much I enjoy my one on one time with self, spirit and soul.  I often take stock of where I am and what I’m doing and how I got to this place. I’m full of gratitude for my strong legs, swinging arms and good health. Like most things, I take the gifts I have for granted but not today. Today they were all laid out before me, just waiting to be acknowledged. I had a great time learning about me.

Day 18

During my walk today there was a sign about prairie dogs.  I learned walk-bold dog
they live in small communities called coteries.   The group usually consists of one breeding male, several females and their offspring.  They live underground in burrows with multiple entrances. Prairie dogs recognize all their neighbors in surrounding coteries.

Prairie dogs communicate by vocalizing, body language and touching. If you are walking nearby with a dog they have a certain sound to warn the others that danger is walk-prairie dognear.

In the photo with the sign about Coyotes you’ll notice to the right of the sign on the ground is a prairie dog. No wonder coyotes hang out, right? The dinner bell is ringing. Ha.

 

Day 17

I’ve learned about an app called Hoopla. I can download Hoopla and borrow a book even if others have it checked out. With my other library app (Overdrive) I have to wait until it has been returned – like a real book. With Hoopla, if they have it and I want it, it’s mine.

https://www.hoopladigital.com/home

At Hoopla you can check out audio books, movies, comics, ebooks and television shows. It’s pretty simple and free. Check it out in case you’re needing something new to chew on. (You know what I mean?)

Day 16

I downloaded music by Graham Nash called This Path Tonight and loved walk-leave one outevery song. Since I checked the music out using Hoopla I had the entire month to listen. I took the music with me in the car, through neighborhoods and into each room of my house during my spring cleaning fest. Good stuff.

Learning about medicinal marijuana uses

Marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs

Yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning, there was a segment about medical marijuana and the spotlight was on a retired school principal. She told her story about how she condoned the use of marijuana for years until her body began to age. With aging came prescriptions for various drugs to help with cholesterol, arthritis, insomnia, and on and on.  With pharmaceutical drugs came side effects. She explored the organic world of marijuana as a way to stay healthy without pain or pills.

Day 12

The focus of the program made me go online and look up various plants to learn more about their medicinal properties. Marijuana also known as cannabis has just a spattering of official research behind it because in 1970 the drug was labeled illegal making research hard to do. Findings over the past twenty years have proved otherwise as people with multiple sclerosis had less painful muscle spasms and people with seizures suffer less frequently and less intensely when they use cannabis to gain control again.

Day 13

I learned that with marijuana there are two specific stains, Indica and Sativa. The indica strain’s properties lean toward reducing stress and relaxation and is used to help people with sleep, pain, nausea, appetite issues, and anxiety. The sativa strain is more uplifting and energizing. Most of the time the strains are blended and referred to as hybrids.

The medicinal marijuana stores have ‘Budtenders’ who can direct you to the right herb once they know your symptoms. Are you dealing with cancer and having trouble with pain and nausea? They might suggest you use Girl Scout Cookie strain. Budtenders take their jobs seriously, get pain well and are very knowledgeable about the products they sell.

Day 14

Other strains with cool names like Bubbleioush, Kush, Grape Ape, and Blueberry are often suggested for insomnia or to reduce the intensity of migraine headaches.  There are so many plants that can be used for various ailments. They can be smoked or eaten or rubbed on the skin as a topical soother.

The thing I love when I read about marijuana use for ailments is this product is natural with little to no side effects. A dear friend of mine recently purchased a prescription pain pill for dental work and reviewed the document that listed the possible side effects. The list was really long and scary.

Some of the items on the list were: dizziness, nausea, feeling faint, feeling weak, itching, dry mouth, excessive sweating, indigestion, stomach cramps, head pain, fever, liver failure, blot clots … I kid you not! These are just a handful of the 30 or so things that can happen to you if you take the pain pill.

Day 15

If you ingest marijuana, you’ll most likely get relaxed and just that reaction alone can make a headache go away, lessen the impact of a seizure, calm a migraine, stimulate an appetite, and allow sleep to occur.  If you are a person who with a chronic illness, the novelty of finding relief that is not a pill or injection is going to be the best answer of all.

More cannabis information to come…

More learning about marijuana to follow in the next posting. Stay tuned!

Related articles:

Medical Marijuana: What the Research Shows
Medical Marijuana for Insomnia
How Cannabis Affects Sleep Patterns

Day by Day, Learning Continues

Day 8 – I learned long ago about author and poet, Mary Oliver and how her poetry resonates with me. This poem, titled
Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End? is simply beautiful.snow daisy3-sm

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.dew rose1-sm

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking to the center of everything:
the seed, the egg, the idea that was also there, beautiful as a thumb curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Day 9 –I learned that I can quiet a class of 28 students within seconds because they know that in order to play a game, they have to be silent. The guessing game, is often played during those few moments when the librarian is out of the room. “Ok, I’m thinking of a letter of the alphabet …”  I have one student next to me who gets to hear the answer. Then with each guess, I lean down and ask the student, “Was that the correct answer?” The student is my “proof” that I am not changing the answer. It’s quick, fun and a change of pace for these first graders. And, it’s a blast for me!

Day 10 – I learned that our elementary students need to know how to use the keyboard in order to succeed. I learned the keyboard in the 11th grade of school.

School based testing is completed on computers. No more fill in the bubbles using 2# pencils. Instead, they read the computer test online and answer online. If it’s a math test, they are allowed to use paper to solve problem, however, they are required to enter their work on the computer. Any stories they write or sentences they complete – all entered on the computer.

So, let’s imagine a third grader taking required school based tests. The stress involved with reading and understanding the passage is only one of the issues. When asked to write what they thought of the story or characters, now they have to know how to use a keyboard in an efficient manner. These kids are 9 years old. They are struggling with test taking and now, they need to know the basics of keyboarding. Heck, we’re not asking too much, right? Geesh!

Please understand that I think it’s great for my grandson to learn keyboarding as a first grader – I think it’s beyond great – however, for those that struggle with the keyboard should not have to deal with it during testing as well. Like many things in the school system, this isn’t about the student. It’s a money saving issue.  Alas…

http://www.typingtest.com/blog/touch-typing-lessons-in-primary-schools/

http://humbleisd.net/page/26888

https://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2014/03/21/new-florida-writing-test-will-use-computers-to-grade-student-essays/

Day 11 –

Found some great youtube videos – Sometimes, it’s just good to laugh. Check out the video on Donnalou Stevens website for a giggle or two!

http://donnaloustevens.com/