Creativity

I was asked to speak to our local Stroke & Soup support group about Creativity

Mmmm, where do I begin? I have always prided myself on being pretty creative. It’s my key personality trait. (Well, I think it is.) I was voted the female Senior Superlative in high school as Most Creative. (It was my thang.) I tried every lesson in the book. I had to try it ALL! Throughout the years, I’ve spent countless hours on piano, dancing, calligraphy in many styles, singing alto, sign design, violin, silk screening, guitar, ballet, button design and construction, drawing, tole painting, manual and computer graphic design (I had to adapt over the years- things change,) photography, scrapbooking, party planning, rubber stamping, paper arts, chalk painting, flower arranging, jewelry design and beading. (Whew!) Some of these I even did as jobs! I constantly need to throw myself into something, not just watching the grass grow. (Too passive.) My mind must possess a project to chew on.

My husband calls my crafts “craps,” and he thinks I’m a hoarder. He doesn’t comprehend that crafters must hoard to be productive, and the work space might appearto be crazy when we’re in the “zone.” (Deal with it.)

So then one day the Creative Queen relinquished her title when she lost the use of her dominant right hand. She felt as though fate slammed the door on all things creative in her life. (I just slipped into third person! And, back to first.)

This creativity topic is a sensitive subject for me. 

“Leftie” has always been a helper hand, not a doer hand. Now that “rightie” is hibernating, “leftie” has been a champ and stepped up to the challenge. But it has spent it’s whole life being the helper. What can I expect from it? Every time I struggle, I must remember it is my left hand. It has performed as my helper hand for forty-seven years. Many additional things take two hands to accomplish than I realized! My family has been incredibly supportive. They are very patient with my shortcomings, and they even eat Sunday dinner with their left hands. (See, it’s not that easy!)

“Leftie” has learned to swiftly one hand type and drive my electric wheelchair with precision. (Usually!) I’ve also dabbled with an adult coloring book.

I started writing in Facebook in response to a daily love writing challenge. I also found it was a opportune way to express appreciation to my family and friends, and it turned out to be a wonderful vent for my feeling and emotions. I wrote for a second month on a daily basis about my lucky blessings. (Well it was March after all.) After those two months, I had quite a large group of followers and avid readers. Many friends suggested I write a blog. A blog? Me? (That sounds difficult.) Don’t you have to be a professional writer? I simply put my thoughts on the screen and shared occasional milestones. I enjoyed English classes, but I never regarded myself a writer. The blog has served as an excellent creative vehicle for me. I started out stressing positivity as a self-made pep-talk to help me stay on the right track and avoid depression, but now it is the underlying theme of most of my blogs. I started out writing daily, but I found out about three months in, that my thoughts were becoming tapped out. So now I only write when the ideas hit me.

After I go home, and get all my “craps” organized, I want to utilize my creativity as much as possible. It might just be to teach my daughters and pass on my knowledge. I want to get a table vise, and try jewelry again. I also figure I can rubber stamp one handed. (I’ll make enough cards to keep me supplied for fifty years!) The paper trimmer might be challenging, but hey, I’ve got three girls at home to help me. The computer is always calling my name. I have already completed a few computer generated flyers for my church and family. I also figure I can do digital scrapbooks on the computer. My creativity can also come out in my home decorating (of my new digs) and how I deal with my family. At the moment I cannot sing or dance like I once did, but I can still enjoy and appreciate those physical arts. Photography is not out of the picture (get it?) I just need to master it single-handedly. (I’m full of puns! Stop!)

It is imperative to remind myself that even though my right hand is taking a temporary leave of absense, there are many ways I can express my creativity by hand (singular) and through my mind. We never lose that creative eye, that’s what makes us who we are. We can be creative in everything we do, if we put our whole self into each and every thing we invest our time in.

Graduating

Guess what? I graduated! My Occupational Therapist informed me I graduated from his assistive technology program! (An OT works with arm rehabilitation and teaching ways to be independent, even with physical problems, like washing dishes, folding laundry and dressing.) He will continue to work on my arm and hand to keep them flexible. He offered me a diploma, but I declined. Jordan also offered me a job. (Haha.) Every time he shared a adaptive concept, I had already thought of multiple ideas to be more productive before we discussed them. (Many assistive tools are sitting in my Amazon cart to order when I go home.) He did start some new lines of thinking for me though. 

Another part of the work was the cognitive aspect. (He found out quickly that all of his tests were no match for me.) It is a tender mercy that the stroke had no effect on my knowledge and memories! (My education from school and life wasn’t a waste.)

I’m not sure this can be included on a job resume, but I’m quite proud of this achievement! (Yay me!) 

Cherish the small achievements in your life, even if it is just getting out of bed or not killing your kids today! It’s advantageous to count even your smallest successes. Try writing down one achievement you accomplished each day. That small exercise will help you keep moving and avoid daily discouragement. (This is coming from the Queen of Slow!)

Framework

I received a big surprise when I went home to visit last weekend. My house addition was framed! (Well, almost.) It looked like the dream is real. They all kept it a big secret from me! (Which is hard for some girls!) I was amazed at what the frame made of wood can do for you morale. I wondered if it would ever happen.

The house frame made me contemplate (I’m a thinker, I have the time) what my life’s frame is made of. Since I am so abundantly blessed, I mulled over many facets in my mind. It answer finally came down to my family

God bestowed on me the ultimate framework. Each one of them from multiple extended family (on two sides) to my own husband and children (and now spouses and soon grandchildren) are vital and treasured pieces of my frame. They hold me up, and make me who I am. I could not be strong and stable without their caring service and important influence upon my personal structure. I learned my positivity from the many examples of my family.

Sometimes it is difficult (very difficult) to be kind and appreciate certain family members, but make it a priority. They are your life-long friends. You will be there for each other many years down the road. Show your gratitude for your family. (Just do it!) Express it to them while you can. “How do I live without you?….”


Good Morning

I was watching the movie “The Hobbit” today. A confused Bilbo Baggins greeted Gandalf with a “Good morning?” The tall and haggard Gandalf with his rustic cane, floppy hat, and bushy grey eyebrows replied, “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning, whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

Many common sayings can signify different things by the intonation you use, sort of like “Aloha,” “Shalom,” or “Unbelieveable.” I began to ponder upon his comment. It really can be examined four ways.

1.“Do you wish me a good morning?”             

We need to acknowledge each and every person with a positive greeting and salutation. (Especially if it doesn’t require an answer. I.E.: Good day, hello, or Happy Holidays!) Don’t you just love a person who is smiling and makes eye contact and speaks to you even if it’s just in passing? (Maybe not on a busy sidewalk, but definitely at a door.)

I have found, being in wheelchair, there are two common personalities in people. One who figures I am a broken unseen obstacle in their way. I unsettle them. (Some are even scared.) They just want to escape with no eye contact. Then there are those who are very kind. Theysee me as a real human with hopes and dreams. People who venture far out of their way to greet me or hold the door or stop their car so I can cross the street. These second people are thinking of others, and they sincerely wish me a ‘good day’ free of problems. Now, I am not saying, “Be kind to invalids.” (Well, yes I am.) Everyone, wheelchair or not, yearns to be treated with kindness and respect. We all desire those who cross our paths to leave us with a smile. (It’s only human.) So let’s do the same.

2. “It is a good morning whether I want it or not.”

This part leads me to ponder the weather and one’s outlook of it. I am so thrilled to have an actual autumn. We, in the west, experienced a cold snap rivaling early winter recently. (Break out the coats and gloves.) It has warmed up a little. (Thank goodness!) I figured we were going to skip fall altogether. Autumn is that fabulous season of year when there’s a nip in the air, and the leaves turn yellow, red, and orange (Crunch, crunch.) It’s not too hot, and hopefully, not too cold. 

Sometimes, one person’s outlook on their surroundings can be very different from the other. (I won’t start on the Men/Hot, Women/Cold debate.) One may observe our season’s characteristics by grumbling, “I hate this! I can’t believe summer is over, here we go again into the dreaded frigid winter!” or another one happily states, “It’s so wonderful not to be so sweltering, and we can enjoy the crisp comfortable days ahead.” Attitude turns any situation around.

3. “That you feel good this morning?

There are literally times when sickness takes over, and we feel rotten, physically and emotionally. (It’s called Soma-psychotic. Body controls mind.) But more often, our thoughts and hopes control how we feel physically. (You’ve heard of the medical description Psycho-somatic.) Especially if you have an exciting event in your near future, you can ‘will yourself’ to rise out of the bed (or ashes, like a Phoenix,) strive to feel better, and get to the business at hand.

During my school years, I would call my mom to go home from school sick. She called it “the blahs.” I was just bored, and had no interest in participating in the day. I know presently, I might feel like dragging on the floor each morning (figuratively,) but after I get active and some exercise, I feel positive and motivated. (Endorphins.) We can get enthused and moving if our brain says, “You can do it!” No matter the circumstances, we most surely keep telling ourselves, “It’s going to be a great day!” (Success is mainly in our heads.)

4. “Is it a morning to be good on?”

Choices and consequences. Every time we encounter a decision crossroad, (like constantly,) we must select our actions or reactions. It might not be easy to choose the high road, but the favorable consequences will serve as our reward. Before we choose in any situation, we should take a second and compare the possible results of our choices. (Use a flow chart in your mind.) If only, the people in the news would consider the outcome before acting, we might have ‘world peace” or enjoy a tad bit more happiness. (Our jails and court systems would not be as overloaded!) 

“Choose the Right” is my favorite song. I still sing it in my head as my own personal little Jiminy Cricket. Some people wear CTR rings as visual good choice reminders. Others wear “WWJD?” (What would Jesus do?) to point them in the positive direction. No matter what method you employ, “Choose the right way, and be happy.” 

Have a good morning! Love, Kim


Solar Eclipse

I eat my small Sunday breakfast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “Music and the Spoken Word” on TV. The narrator spoke about the solar eclipse we witnessed about a month ago during the day. He marveled at how so many people stopped their lives and gathered together to view this rare occurance. He also shared the reason he believes we were so astonished by this phenomenon is that we were confounded by the clockwork precision and the utter beauty our world offers. We paused for a moment to marvel at a small piece of our inspiring world and universe. (I also believe we wanted to witness a sight rare and amazing. We wanted to be part of the earth’s history.) How often (in our busy schedules) do we stop to appreciate the sky and nature? (If you do, lucky you!)


I understand some people made piles of money selling eclipse glasses. (Since the press over-reported the event, and scared us to death about the adverse effects of looking at the sun with the naked eye!) Whitney and I watched from the patch of lawn at Maceys. We were buying treats, and she didn’t want to miss it. (We had eclipse glasses, thanks to my mom and dad!) It was about 95% full where we viewed it. The sky resembled evening dusk at totality.

We don’t need special glasses to behold the awesomeness of the glorious nature-filled wonders around us. I am lucky to live near the Rocky Mountains so I can exit my door and see the majestic mountains or drive a little to the wooded forests and tranquil waters. On a clear night, we can sit in our backyard and clearly view the stars and vast sky.
During your next prayer, be sure to thank your Heavenly Father for giving you countless celestial and earthly beauties in what was once “the lone and dreary world.” (Even those dreary parts are beautiful in their own way.) Take time to notice and appreciate the natural abundance we live in!


Taken by my 14 year old daughter the other day from our home. Snow in September?

The Thumper Rule

I was always told, Remember the Thumper Rule! “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!”  (Sorry about the double negative, I’m quoting.) These days, kindness seems to be passed off as old fashioned, passé, and not very popular. (Are you listening, Trump?) “You won’t get very far in this world on kindness.” (Yeah, right! I say sarcastically.) Kindness is the true measure of decent, mature person. The true sign of maturity (in my book) is knowing when to shut up. Knowing what “not” to say.

The rehab home where I’m staying admitted a new patient. She’s uber onery. (She is more onery than a multitasking mom with a migraine!) She’s driving the staff mad. (Referring to it both ways. Mad “grrrrr” and mad crazy.) This lady is verbally abusive to the max, and they all dread going in to help her. They’ve thanked me for being incredibly kind and understanding. I always say “Thank you,” and try to make their jobs easier. (Like day and night.)

Really? Do we need to force other’s lives as to be as miserable as (we think) our own is? I’ll bet if she attempted interaction with people the opposite way and made a concerted effort to be kind. She would be happier, and it would additionally brighten the other person’s day. Let’s at least start with civil and work up from there. (Here I go being all positive again. It must be my thing!)

My thoughts rush back to high school. (Fade to backstory with weird music.) I was attending to perform in an evening choir concert. All the choir members were required to wear our finest. One girl, who was low in the self esteem department, was looking exceptionally nice. I felt compelled to compliment her. So I did ecstatically. Her countenance changed from shy and uncertain to a big smile and looking rather proud of herself. I noticed her. I swear there were beams of light shooting from her body! (Seriously beaming!) All it took was a few kind words. (I bet I made her year! If I do say so myself.) I felt great, and I am certain she did, too. (Like I say, win win.) It left me with such an impact, I remember that experience from over thirty years ago!

(Return to the present.) My tween girls are always bickering and placing blame. (Yeah, you guys!) Oh, how much calmer, pleasant, and quiet our home would be without the incessant arguing! (Serenity now!) I need to constantly place a picture of Bambi’s Thumper in their faces (or tattoo it to their corneas) to remind them about the urgent and necessary need for kindness. (Sometimes it’s a relief to go back to the rehab home! I didn’t say that.) They need to forget their pride and me, me, me attitudes and think of the other. Remember: Kindness begins with me!” We seem to be the worst with our siblings. (I’m sure there’s some psychological reason.) That’s too bad, because your brothers and sisters do become your best friends. (True story.)

Let’s play Truth (and) or Dare. 

Truth? Tell me how an act of kindness changed your day. 

Dare? Go perform an intentional (way out of your way) act of kindness for anyone, and see how you feel. Tell me about it. (I really want to hear about it!)

Next time you have a choice, choose kindness. See how that works out for you! (I dare ya!)

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.