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.

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?….”


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?

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!