Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"How are YOU doin'!"

When people ask "how are you doing," the polite thing to say is "I am doing great!"

For my step grandmother, we learned never to ask because she would tell EVERYTHING that was wrong with her health not for just her but everyone.

When I had a stroke, the platitudes were more pronounced! Everyone was so concerned. It was gratifying. I have so many friends, and the generosity was so humbling to me.

10 months later, everyone is moving forward with their lives like me. But, just as everyone moves forward with their own lives, I do not think that a lot of people know about my reality. I don't know what their lives entail anymore. When I was working and very active, I knew a lot about their lives, kids, work, etc.

Now that I am "home," I don't get around anymore!

That is understandable. My mother-in-law told me that, when her husband died, there was so much activity. Then, days, and then months, and years slipped away. Do people know really what she thinks, dreams, and fears?

My uncle died last week. My uncle and aunt were married for at least 56 years, and, like my mother-in-law, my aunt now has a sad reality check. Granted, we love loved ones, but they go on with their lives, what is left for them?

I think about this often. Not just because of my relatives, because of me. Do my friends really know about my life? One of my friends helped me with my homework soon after I released from the hospital. One friend. That's it.

My wife and my brothers have been so great asking and participating. I am so grateful for them.

But, the others? No one knows anything about my therapy other than "I have some." No one knows about how hard it is. No one knows what I do every day. No one knows about my fears and dreams and hopes. Some friends call often. Some do not...even close friends.

On the off chance I see people, they often slap me on the back, and say "you are doing GREAT." But they don't know. I have had great success. I have a lot of honors. But, in the dark when I should be sleeping, I wonder what my future holds. Go back to what I did before even though I cannot do some work like before? Will I venture to a new adventures and work?  Will my friends be the same?  I don't know.

My wife is a great reality check for me. When I feel so sorry for myself, she says "have you thought about this or that." That helps a lot.

But, just like a widow, I am isolated in my grief about what I was before.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dying parents

My parents died last month. My mom and step dad were married for 42 years. My dad died almost 20 years ago. It seem unreal that they are gone. On Facebook, I posted news about my parents dying, and even now, it is surreal to me.  The outpouring of postings about my parents was a key part of my grieving even though I suppose I will be grieving for years. I did my mothers eulogy  which was very tough to do even if I had not had a stroke.

Here is what I posted:

September 23: Our mother died yesterday, a victim of ovarian cancer. She left us 13 days after our step father passed away. This was a quick exit after 80 years. Her considerable life force has ended. She was many things: Hardworking, beautiful (inside and out), driven, compassionate, feisty, loyal, and loving. But, Mom was simply a great mom and grandmother. That was all she ever wanted to be. She had so many great friends and people who loved her. I will miss her laugh. I will miss her endless phone calls. I will miss the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I will miss my dear friend.

September 10: Another one of "The Greatest Generation" died today. My step dad, Karl Brown, was my hero. I met him when I was 8 years old, and for 42 years, my step dad was the epitome of love, caring, mentoring, inspiration and great jokes! He was the Best Man at our wedding. Thank you, Karl, for all that you have given me. I hope I can always make you proud of me. He was a great dad to me, and I will miss him.

Strokes and slowing down...maybe!

My stroke was 10 months ago, and I am eager to get better. "Getting better" is relative because I have a long way to go. I have had 160 therapy session so far (speech, vision and occupational) plus massage therapy and acupuncture. I was partially paralyzed  in my right arm.

When I got out of the hospital -- 18 days! -- I was so scared. I was in a fog. I was in a daze.

But, I slowly got some focus. "Focus" in the sense, that I was tired in every way. My words lacked focus. My vision lacked focus...literally! I was unsteady because I thought I would fall.

I had to learn everything again. Oven? What was an oven? Light switches. Electrical outlets. Shaving. Showering. Tying my shoes. Driving -- not that I am driving even now!

My standard answer when I am asked, "I am getting better." And, I am.

But, I realize that I need a lot of time to recover. For example, in April, one of my therapists said I must return my blog. The problem was, I could not read or write! That was a problem....

I had to write four sentences a day every day. Initially, my sentences consisted of three of four words.

I was resigned about my fate. A writer that could not write. A speaker that could not speak. An educator that could not teach. On and on.

So, I was scared not just because of my health, but because most people don't know how to deal with stroke "victims."

Some people think that I will get immediately get better. "A few weeks of therapy and go back to work."

Some people think that I am a "cripple."

Some friends were supportive. Some "dropped" me -- and my family.

The reaction runs that gambit.

The intent is to be "normal." I have always be a busy guy, so, I am striving to be busy and normal. I am a very driven person so today I am trying to  replace one set of priorities for another. I do not have "job," my new "profession" is trying what to do next.

I am not sure what I will do, but I am doing everything that I can to be "normal." So, I have been going to a LOT of meetings.  I went to Sun Valley for the AGC convention. I went to the Governor’s Cup.

This month, I went to the Idaho Association of Realtors convention in Coeur d'Alene followed two days later with a trip to Boston for the College of Western Idaho. Then, I did a series of conference calls plus some very intense political discussions.

What learned recently, I AM kinda tired!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

This is from one of my favorite books. I have not read it for a long time. Given my stroke, this really hits home. Think about it.
Quotations From The Messiah's Handbook
"Reminders for the Advanced Soul"
"Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"
by Richard Bach - 197

Perspective - Use It or Lose It. If you turned to this page, you're forgetting that what is going on around you is not reality. Think about that.

Remember where you came from, where you're going, and why you created the mess you got yourself into in the first place.

You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.
You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.

Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers.

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a false messiah.

Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.

The simplest questions are the most profound.
    Where were you born?
    Where is your home?
    Where are you going?
    What are you doing?
Think about these once in awhile, and watch your answers change.

Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.
Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.

Imagine the universe beautiful and just and perfect.

    Then be sure of one thing:
    The Is has imagined it quite a bit better than you have.
    The original sin is to limit the Is. Don't.

A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed, it feels an impulsion....this is the place to go now.
But the sky knows the reason and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.

You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours.

If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.

The world is your exercise-book, the pages on which you do your sums.
It is not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write nonsense, or lies, or to tear the pages.

Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.

In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."

The truth you speak has no past and no future. It is, and that's all it needs to be.

Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.
And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.

You're going to die a horrible death, remember. It's all good training, and you'll enjoy it more if you keep the facts in mind.
Take your dying with some seriousness, however. Laughing on the way to your execution it not generally understood by less advanced lifeforms, and they'll call you crazy.

Everything above may be wrong!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple products

 I have never really liked Apple products. I guess I think they are so arrogant.  I think Steve Jobs was mean man. I think his personality is so caustic.Their corporate culture is so "know it all." But, because of my stroke, I have found that there are so many affordable tools for me. I can "read" the news through a program calls ""Speak It." I helps me use e-mails, reading, etc. I have a program called "Predictable" that literally predicts my words. I just got my new iPhone 5, and it seamlessly uses my phone and my iPad. So, I really like their products. But, still....yuck!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

“Regarding Henry”

I watched a movie called “Regarding Henry” starring Harrison Ford the other night. I kind of remembered the movie, but like so many movies, it was a distant memory. I don’t know who told me that I should watch again, but it was sobering to me.
The back story was irrelevant for me. But, the focus was so similar to what I have been going through. Brain injury. Therapy. Scared.  The protagonist had a child. Very driven. Working too hard.

Not really realizing what is important.
And, it is gone in an instant.

That the end of the movie, the family is better than the were before.  I hope so. A movie is about two hours. For me, this is my life. I don’t know when I will get “better,” just like I don’t know when I will recover.  And, that is “recovery” anyway.

This tragedy  actually made my family better is so many ways.

A movie is about 2 hours. For me, the story has no “The End.”
For now.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My mother died....

My mother died on September 23, 2012. I never thought about it too much because my Mom was so vibrant. She was 80, but her health issues were very recent. She succumbed only about 5 months before she became ill. As I said, her life force was so palpable that we thought she would out live all of us. But, as she said, “it was her time to go.” So times, I catch me calling her. Just last Sunday,  I picked up my cell phone and just realized she is gone. Dead. My mom is dead. I sometimes I say that over and over just so I can convince myself that she is gone.  On Facebook, my tribute about my mother resonated. So many people commented, and that helped with my grieving process. When my Dad died almost 20 years ago, I do remember grieving, but I think this different for some reason. Maybe it’s because I was so close with her. How knows? I have been thinking a lot about life and death recently because of my stroke. But, life goes on. Seems kinda trite, but it is life -- and death.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Realtor Friends!

I went to the Idaho Realtors’ Convention last week. It was great fun, and I saw so many friends. I was the director of the organization for about 20 years, and after all this time, many faces were the same, some of the issues were the same, and some of the personalities were same. I left the Realtors on Dec. 31, 2003. But, I have some many friends throughout the nation, and it was great to see many of them again. I am grateful that I was invited, and I am happy that they are using me as part of the new search committee for the next director. It is an important job, and I can help, I will.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Returning to my blog...

Well, I have been meaning to return to my blog. It has been a tough year. My strike and my parents passing has been so starling to me. I do need to blog again. Doctor’s orders! So, this is my attempt to blog more consistently. It will make me accountable and I can view my progress.

I used to write so much. When I wrote, it just flowed. It was a great outlet for me to express ideas, dreams, and hopes. I wondered if I would ever write again. As I write this blog, I am writing, but I am not editing like I used to. Rather, I am just writing, and I will correct my mistakes later.

I don’t know if anyone will read my stuff, but I am setting a goal for me to write at least every week.

This blog post was created in about 10 minutes including editing. Months ago, I almost cried because I could not string words together at all. I tried to do 4 sentences a day, and the sentence structure was weak. I started with simple sentences. Granted, some of my contacts suggest that I was “too wordy,” so, maybe this is blessing.

However, I don’t think a stroke is the way to do it!