Sunday, March 29, 2015

Life Changing Events

Many years ago, I taught a novel called Alas, Babylon to my students.

The novel deals with the effects of a nuclear war on the small town of Fort Repose, Florida, during the height of the Cold War. All major cities are destroyed, and this small town begins to rebuild.

In the book, the characters use the term The Day to mark the date of the nuclear war. They refer to events as “before The Day” or “after The Day.” 

The Day signified the beginning of their new life, the life that would be totally different from what they had known up until that point.

I’m sure we have all experienced days that we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when a certain event happened. Most noteworthy are tragedies that happened during my parents’ generation -- Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President Kennedy.

My generation has its tragedies, too. We can tell you where we were when Robert Kennedy or John Lennon was shot and definitely what we were doing when 9/11/01 happened.

Other time-worthy events that change our lives are the births of our children. We usually comically refer to those times as BK (Before Kids) or AK (After Kids).

These time markers, like The Day in Alas, Babylon, usually bring about a change in our lives or at least a change in how we see the world around us.

I usually look at a change in my life, whether good or bad, and try to learn from it. For example, I will never forget when my second son was born and we were told that he had Down syndrome. That event changed my life, but the change is for the better. I was reluctant to accept the change because it’s not what I wanted or planned, but I adapted and my life became a “better” different.

About a month ago, we had to adapt to another of those life-changing times when the doctors told my husband, “You have lung cancer.” After the shock and immediate fear subsided, we had to totally revamp our lives to now include monthly chemotherapy and daily radiation, along with countless doctor appointments as well as trips to Tampa for a second opinion.  We have been forced to change the way we look at life, too. No longer am I counting down the days until I retire because I am living one day at a time. I’m also very grateful for each day, no matter how little sleep we have gotten or how many new things I have to do, such as medicine schedules, blood pressure records, or injections I have to give.

This new event is a change that I did not want to happen, but I am trying to find something good that has come out of it. So far, I have met some extremely nice and truly caring people that I never would have known before. I look around to see what I can do after we win our battle to help others who are fighting cancer. I have become more focused on telling people how much they mean to me. And although I have shed many tears, I have laughed lots, too.

These times, like The Day in Alas, Babylon, are important to remember, but we shouldn't dwell on them. Life can’t stop on that day; we have to accept the event, learn from it, do the best we can and move on.

Prayers are appreciated.

P.S. – If my posts are not as timely as before, I hope you will understand. As much as I love writing and hearing your comments, Pass the Honey may not be published every Saturday morning as I have done for the past year. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21: World Down Syndrome Day

March is a such beautiful month that I always anticipate.

Many events occur that signify change during this month. There’s the switch to Daylight Saving Time during the beginning of the month, the change of seasons from winter to spring on the March 20th, and all of the transformation in vegetation with its bursting forth in green and blossoms along with all of its yucky, yellow pollen.

March is also the month that brings about that much anticipated week for school children and teachers alike – Spring Break. This week is such a joyous time for those mentioned as well as their families. It’s the week to leave all the stress of school/work and the blah winter season behind and take time to breathe and enjoy. The only time I didn’t like Spring Break was when I lived in Panama City and all of the college kids invaded the beaches. I always headed out of town during that time because of the traffic and all of the crazy events that usually happened because kids didn’t make wise choices. I moved away from PC ten years ago and from what I read, the crowds have gotten worse.

Pi Day, March 14, received a lot of press this year because of the first seven digits after the decimal point. This year you could stop at 9:26 am or pm and record the digits representing Pi – 3.1415926. As a person who does not love math, the only Pi I recognize is spelled differently – PIE.

As an English teacher, I always recognize March 15, the Ides of March, not because of the ancient Roman religious observation but because William Shakespeare referred to it in Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March. 
If you remember studying the play, probably in 10th grade English, you know that later, Brutus stabs Caesar in the back and the other senators join in to assassinate Caesar. Good times!

Other celebratory days in March include St. Patrick’s Day; the birthdays of Dr. Seuss, Albert Einstein, Big Bird, and Barbie; the invention of the rubber band, the pencil with an attached eraser, and Coca-cola; and of course, March Madness for all the basketball lovers.

One extremely important event that was established on March 21, 2012, and officially observed by the United Nations, is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). On this date each year, these wonderful people who were born with three copies of chromosome 21 (instead of the usual two copies) are recognized. The goal is that community groups and individuals will bring awareness of this genetic abnormality by performing different events to show how people with Down syndrome play a very important role in our lives and communities.

One activity that I’m taking part in is a simple one, a random act of kindness (RAOK). It’s the same premise as any RAOK in that you do something nice for someone, but in this instance, you give a card saying that you are doing this in honor of all people with Down syndrome.

Sometimes people do these acts anonymously and that’s certainly fine with this activity; however, it might be nice to stick around so that you can answer any questions or tell about the person(s) you know with Down syndrome.

I found this at the Piedmont, NC Down Syndrome Support Network but there are many other sites about simple activities that you can do to educate the world about these fine people. Here is the link to the information letter and postcard you can print and give out if you want to participate in the RAOK for World Down Syndrome Day. 

On March 21, and every day of the year, I encourage you to take part in educating people about Down syndrome.

Happy March!

Drew, my 27-year-old son, who is a wonderful person with Down syndrome.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Year of Pass the Honey

On March 8, 2014 I entered into the world of blogging. When I started this journey a year ago, I was so unsure of myself as a writer and unsure that I could stick with blogging in a consistent manner.

A year and 83 published - and just as many unpublished - posts later, I can firmly say that I have done better than I ever thought I would. I have missed only one week and that was due to family illness.

My beginning was a rocky one and when I look back at the first posts I wrote, I'm more than a bit embarrassed at the content. However, when I read many of the more recent ones, I feel really proud. My ego has experienced high and lows. Some posts got numerous hits and comments right away. These posts are the ones I wrote about deeply personal events that truly touched me or just about occurrences that were in the news to which I and others could relate. 

Most of the time, I am shocked that anyone would want to read what I have to say about anything. I’m not anyone special who has profound thoughts about life, but I do have common experiences and thoughts that many other people share. Maybe I’m their mouthpiece; I say what they want to say but can’t find the right words or just don’t have the time to sit down and write.

I admit that it’s really difficult to find topics to write about. I’m not an organized blogger who knows what she will write about on September 24, 2016. I envy those prepared people, but I don’t believe I will ever be one. Instead, I pay attention to things that happen around me or what people say during the week and then decide if it’s something I want to write about. Writing is much harder and more stressful this way, but it works for me. Maybe when I’m no longer working, I can get super organized and be better at planning my posts. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Whatever the reason for reading my posts, please know that I’m really grateful. I sometimes feel like I’ve won an Academy Award when a post has lots of readers and comments and would like to say to everyone, “But most of all, I’d like to thank my fans. You are the reason I do this.” That statement is so true. After a year, I feel a deep connection to people I don’t know and also feel that I can’t let my readers down. I don’t have zillions of readers yet, but it’s important to me when one person says, “I really enjoy reading your blog” or “Your experiences really touched me.”

So thank you for taking the time to share my life, my thoughts, and my views on everything. I hope that I can keep your interest for another year or two. I’m willing to keep writing, and I hope you are willing to continue reading.