Doin’ Fine

Last weekend, I went to Lauren Alaina’s concert at Cherry Peak (a newer ski resort above Richmond.) It is definitely fall. It was exremely cold! She was the American Idol, Season 10 runner up in 2011. Her music is a fabulous mix of rock and country. Lauren has a genuine and kind heart, and writes many of her own songs, including, “Doin’ Fine.”

As I sat bundled up in my cocoon, this song struck a chord with me. Good thing I was wearing a hoodie to hide my face, because I cried through the entire song! (Like sobbing.) I’ve heard it before, but this time it meant so much more.

Even though the song is written about the divorce of her parents, it is also about being broken and an attempt at healing. In the chorus she sings, “I’m not okay, but I’m gonna be alright.” (I totally know the feeling.) Time doesn’t cure all inner wounds, but it does dull them and help them not to sting as much. We need to keep our hearts ‘wide open’ so we can feel love and gratitude for all those who care for us. Closed hearts shut people out, which is never advantageous. She refers to ‘growing pains’ in the song. At first I was confused as I took that literally, but it dawned on me that as we endure the pain and rough times, we grow. (So true!) Blame is our initial gut reaction, but through prayer and the grace (love) of God we can grow much closer to the point of healing. We all have tough times, and we might even hide the heartache and cry in private. Even though we are still hurting, things could be much worse, and you can honestly say, “I’m doin’ fine.”

My father instructed me many years ago that most people ask, “How are you?” in conversation. “Fine” is the correct answer. They are being courteous, and don’t really want to hear about your ingrown toenail or your bout of diarrhea. (Nowadays they call it TMI, Too Much Information.) This has occurred to me plenty of times in the past year. I am happy to truthfully say, “I have no pain, and I’m fine.”

I might be broken, wheelchair bound, and taking about 20 pills a day, but I’m alive and fine.

5 Ways to Be Miserable

Life is a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. (Even a few upside downs!) We hope to be on the upward climb more than the down, but odds are, there will definitely be downs. (Either from our own stupid decisions, or through no fault of our own.) How we react to the difficult down times dictate whether we will be happy or sad throughout the ride. (Notice how some on the ride enjoy every minute, and some are freaked out the entire ride?) If you want to be miserable definitely do these things:

1. Show No Gratitude
Don’t appreciate anything. Take all your personal gifts and Heavenly blessings for granted. (You probably don’t even acknowledge the existence of most of them anyway.) Look around and see nothing but boring nature. Assume you are entitled to everything, (because you deserve things just for breathing.) Never write a quick note of thanks for kind actions or thoughtful gifts given to you. Don’t ever say ‘thank you’ or be sincerely touched. Act nonchalant about every wonderful thing you have received.

2. Hold Grudges

Plant your hardened feelings deep inside. (Let them grow!) Don’t let anything go, and don’t think of what circumstance the other person is coming from or their life situation. Let foolish words spoken in haste fester, and make all the memories that could have been created together non-existent due to harbored grudges. Make sure to let the big angry confrontation or even the little off-handed offensive comment consume your every thought. Use every opportunity to rehash the situation with outsiders, and be sure to act over dramatic. Definitely don’t say, “I’m sorry.” (It really doesn’t matter who’s at fault.)

3. Pass the Buck

Assume zero responsibility for your actions. Discover and execute a way for someone else to take the blame. (Surely don’t throw them under a ‘green’ bus, that would be bad! Simon & Garfunkel reference.) Never take ownership of your faults and mistakes. Adopt the Bart Simpson mantra, “I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove anything!” Also, don’t follow through with anything you are responsible for or promised to complete. You have better things to keep you occupied. (That show might not always be on Netflix.) If it’s more convenient, select the easy road. Make the simpler, enticing, or most fun choice even if the consequences may punish you in the end.

4. Think of Yourself

In all things, place yourself first. Do not ever consider the feelings of others. Selfishly make choices that only benefit you. Make a huge effort to impress others and improve your social standing. Do whatever it takes if it involves increasing your bank account. Pay no mind to other’s life struggles. Share a juicy story at every opportunity no matter the validity. (Start or perpetuate a grapevine rumor.) Jump to judgements without researching the back story. Be quick to take offense. Act holier than the Pope, and make sure everyone knows about it. Knock others down to increase your own esteem. Always respond with, “What’s in it for me” when asked to do a task or procrastinate until they go elsewhere.

5. Always Assume the Worst

Look on the dark side in every situation. Abandon hope and faith for gloom and doom. Things can only get worse. Don’t ever hope for the best, and don’t try because you can’t do any better. What you have is what will be, permantly. Tragic things happen to you all the time, and you probably deserve it. Life just hates you. Have a picked-on and bullied attitude. Bad luck must be your only luck. Stop trying, it’s not worth the effort. (Have some chocolate with that pained expression.)


This was incredibly difficult to write, because it goes against everything I believe. (Disclaimer: Don’t do these things!) It made me recall Stephanie in the tv show Full House. She always said, “How rude! 

I wanted to accentuate the worst actions of humankind to prove that we can be better. That rollercoaster symbolizes our wild ride and tests in this life. It’s easier to be our best when the ride is high. (Or is it?) But what about the low points? Can we ride out the lower dips, and not be a self-made Grinch? 

I have one word to conclude with: ATTITUDE. (Mic drop.)

It Feels Wonderful!

I’m am constantly amazed at how the smallest movement can benefit your comfort level immensely! I have recently begun to lift my foot at the ankle, and it feels great.! It requires major concentration, but I can raise it up.  I was sitting in the car, and I lifted both feet. Then I thought, “Did I do that?” (But not in an Urkel voice.) So I did it over and over. I realized it wasn’t just a stretch reaction. (My right side moves when I stretch, sneeze, or cough in a reactionary way.) I was actually doing it!

It made my think of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. ‘Frozen’ stiff for a year, all he needed was oil. (Where can I get some? I use essential oils, but they don’t work that immediate.) With a sigh of relief, he said, “It feels wonderful!” He performed a spiffy little dance when he was able to move! (So will I!) 

The other day, I thought, what else can I move if I concentrated really hard? I sat out in the courtyard and tried all the parts of my right side, with much exertion, but nothing else was ‘unfrozen’ yet. (It will happen.)

I have a new trick though!

The physical therapist has jumped on it. The ankle is actually lifted by the outside muscle on your calf. (Peroneal) I’ve had electrodes there. I’ve done multiple ankle lifts. It hurts my head and jaw, due to major exertion. I need a Tylenol afterwards. I guess it’s all good. (You go ankle, make the other body parts jealous!)

Fire & Clensing

My heart aches for those suffering from the fires across the North and the Northwest sections of America currently. There are gut-wrenching losses, total damage, and completely ruined landscapes. It’s seriously disheartening to see the cherished structures, beautiful mountains (and animal residents) scarred by this unrelenting scourge.

I know this kind of heartbreak. All you once possessed is ruined. (Well, much of it.) 

This massive destruction isn’t done to us. It is done for us.

The concept is so incredibly difficult to fathom, especially when you’re in the thick of it. But I truly believe we are in the latter days, and we are special. (Each one of us!) We met with Jesus and our Heavenly Father before our birth. They asked, ” Will you go through this trial to be cleansed and infinitely grow? We know you are a brave and powerful child. This hardship will deeply impact and teach those around you. You can be an example of surviving and willfull determination. You can be a force for positive and good.” I know we took some time (it was a massively strenuous and difficult decision,) but we had the Holy Ghost to guide us. His ‘burning in the breast’ technique helped us know it would be laborious, but our lives would ultimately emerge successful. He whispered in our ears, “It will be an arduous task, but it’s the only way to expand your spirit in this life.” Deep down, I know this is true, and I know I’m not the only one.

Hard times cleanse the overgrown forests of our inner souls. We learn lessons that cannot be taught by any other method. (Tough love.) If we look at them with positive eyes, much can be gained. We must remember we always have silver linings. There’s always a bright side, even if it’s difficult to see now. Many people on earth (and beyond) are in our cheering section. We are not alone. 

There will be a time when this trial will be in our distant past. What was once a burned up hill of black stumps, will regrow. The ashes of the past will act as fertilizer for the soil. (And soul.) These green saplings will start small, but they will flourish over time. They will be heathy and thrive, making the forest abundant. “Time heals all wounds.” But aside from waiting for our internal forests to regenerate, we must work and have faith to allow it to heal properly.

There is a reason for everything. 

When we understand and accept it, is up to us. “Be still and know.”

Swinging and Freedom

I attempt to avoid the news. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. (I only watch for the weather.) So many people say America is going down the toilet. (Insert flushing sound.) It makes me recall something my parents taught me in my youth, “You can swing your arms as much as you want, until you hit someone.” Meaning, you are free to act in a way that makes you happy and safe, in your own sphere, until you impede on someone else’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. I call it the “Rule of Swinging.” (Yes mom, I listened!)

Our founding fathers understood the concept when they drafted and enacted the Bill of Rights and Constitution 223 years ago. In example, you can say or write what you please until you damage someone with slander or libel. (I won’t even begin with those who are easily offended!) Or, you have the right to shoot a gun, but when it’s used to threaten or the bullet hits someone, you have (literally) ruined their happiness. I suppose you can say freedom ends at the tip of another’s nose.

This is the reason why we have laws, to protect ours and other’s lives and safety, thus equaling our happiness. (In example, speed limits and seat belt laws.) I can’t help thinking, if each person was reared and taught properly, with high morals and respect for their fellow men, and followed the “Rule of Swinging”, we wouldn’t even need laws. I must include the inherent problem of selfishness, greed, or as Chaucer put it, avarice (love of money.) Eradicate these, and many of our country’s daunting problems would be non-existent. (Including healthcare legislation.) In my opinion, our elected leaders must rise above the petty bickering and childish side-taking and remember to strongly embrace democracy and the Constitution, and all they represent, for the good of the people. It was shaped and molded with God’s help, because it holds true to key values and inalienable rights of each and every human. If we spend our time and resources worrying about ourselves and stay out of other’s business, that would help, too. (I’m not refering to countries in need. I’m speaking on a more personal level.)

The bottom line of my rant comes down to the urgent need for unending kindness and love. (That’s the problem I have with Trump. He might get things done, but with incessant unkindness and whining.) How do we teach kindness? How will we improve our current situation? What can little me do?

We cannot sit idly by. I believe the moral-based teaching of future generations is an integral part of the solution. My future grandson could be President of the United States! (You just never know!) What we do and say is so important. The other part of any success of the nation includes respect and unselfishness. (I know it’s not that simple. So many variables come into play.) We must be the good example.

As I quoted a song, in an essay about America that I wrote about 30 years ago, “Perfect or not, it’s the best thing this world’s got!” I personally think we would thrive as a country if we were just more kind! (Our nation, according to Kim!)

Four-Way Stops

If you get in a car, you can’t avoid them. They are a bane of many people’s existence. (To put it lightly!) Four-way stops can be great if you’re alone (then they are just like a normal stop sign.) But add other cars, and usually it’s an incredibly maddening situation! I was riding in the car last night to go home for fresh sweet corn and steak, and those wonderful four-way memories came rushing back. Due to the great time (sarcastically speaking) I’ve had at them, I told my college daughter the subject of a four-way stop would make an excellent A+ psychology research paper.

I was taught in Drivers Ed 32 years ago that the first to get there, proceeds first. If the cars enter the intersection at the exact same time, tie goes to the car on your right. (Not the biggest!) If they are opposite of each other, both just go. I don’t think the rules have changed, but I think some people sluffed the day it was taught. (They sure act like they have no clue!)

You can totally read a personality by the way the driver acts at a four-way stop sign. (Like profiling.) I understand some of us might be having a bad day, and those rotten attitudes will come out as we attempt to quickly reach our destinations. But at a “road-rage” free stop, your true colors are going to be revealed. 

There is the impatient, self-centered driver who will stop and immediately proceed with no regard to who was next. They might not even stop at all! Then there’s the polar opposite timid or good-deed driver who waits until everyone goes then they will eventually feel inclined to go. This inaction wastes a normal person’s time, as they wait and wait, then they finally say to themselves, “Fine, you’re not gonna go, I will.” Then you have the bossy, self-appointed king of the intersection who decides to be the traffic cop, and gives drivers permission to go with a flip of their hand.  They put themselves in charge like they need to fix the intersection. (It’s extra upsetting when they don’t know what they’re doing.) There’s the indecisive driver who stops and goes and stops again. You are positive if you go you’re going to get hit by them as they try to make up their minds. Finally there’s the mouthy, road-rage prone driver who lets you have a big chunk of their thoughts if you even think about crossing their paths. It usually involves obscenities and a certain finger. (Really?) I guess I need to add the calm, level-headed well-adjusted driver who just wants to get through in one piece, with little drama, and a smile. (You hope and pray the stop is full of these drivers!)

I have decided a four-way stop situation is a lot like life. You’ll survive it much better when you follow the rules and keep your bad day to yourself. (Just be kind!) The biggest determiner to how you get ‘across’ successfully is your attitude. Do you just chuckle at the place you’re at and the unbelievable circumstances, or do you grumble, growl and complain at where life has landed you? Sometimes things don’t go exactly how you’d prefer, but is it really a reason to ruin someone else’s day? There are some things that are a necessary evil and unavoidable, but you can control the way you react to them. Keep smilin’! (Sometimes you’ve just got to!)

Joy Disguised as Sadness

It’s been a year since that fateful day. The day my life “flipped turned upside down.” (That’s the best way I can describe it.) I feel like I’ve been living in some alternate universe for a whole year. Every morning I wake up, look around, and my heart sinks because it wasn’t just a dream! (Dangit!) What I’m experiencing is for real! The picture above has never been seen before. It was taken by my sister right after the stroke. (She understands how chronicling life is so important to me.) I only remember bits and pieces. I hear it was touch and go for awhile there.

Wrapping my head around this event has been difficult. Since my brain operates fine, I have mulled, analyzed, and stewed for just about a year. (I’ve had the time, for a long time.) I suspect it’s a lot like mourning a lost life. I used to cry at the drop of a hat. Time has healed some of that, but certain things still set me off.

Most people who know me say, “You’ve come so far from no movement at all and on life support, we wondered if you’d even still be with us.” I agree, but I still mourn the past life I lived. Then they add, “But Kim, you need to celebrate your gift of life.” I understand. I am extremely grateful for that ultimate blessing and tender mercy. I’m still a little sad, though. My common sense tells me, “Yeah, I’ve figuratively traveled an extremely long way.” I do have joy and acknowledge that I fought for what I possess, but it is still lined with a thin layer of regret and “what-could-have-beens.”

Humility is engrained in me now. I was too confident in my comfortable (yet busy) life before the stroke. I hope and pray others can gain the lessons they need to learn on their own without experiencing life-altering changes! I will feel a little better if I know other lives benefited from my hardship. But at this time, I most assuredly recognize the source of my blessings, and I am truly grateful for the hugely abundant acts of kindness on my behalf. There are so many angels on this earth. (Seen and unseen!)

I wondered how to signify this milestone. Many of you shared your great opinions. The sad thing was, the clothes they cut off me in the ER were trashed, and I had no hospital paraphernalia to light on fire. (I got rid of it as fast as I could!) So my older daughter and the girls made a poster that said, “Big fat nasty nasty nasty stroke” with a corner that said, “burn here.” After I ate my fill of cheesecake with Dr. Pepper, we proceeded to the fire pit for some burning! “Burn baby burn!” I only cried a little.

So a year has come and gone with my new normal. I have come the equivalent of 10,000 miles. (I am approximating.) In the next few years, expect to see me walking through the door! (Cuz I’m gonna do it!) 

I can do hard things, and so can you!