Learning by the Seat of your Pants is Long Remembered

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Looks like my library as a kid.

Sometimes it seems that the only thing standing in your way is lack of money and opportunity. To say that we’re all created equal and have the same chance at success is to overlook the stark realities and conditions of our lives.

Where you are born and to whom, and what color your skin makes a significant difference. If your parents are poor and uneducated, it isn’t likely that you will be any different unless they and you are motivated enough to make the choices that will determine your future.

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This could have been me, and yes I was shy and introverted.

Even personality traits play into the mix. A shy introverted child is less apt to reach out for help or make the necessary connections without considerable coaching and encouragement. If you are part of a large family it is even more difficult to find the resources needed for education. Getting a job and helping the family in the here and now becomes more important than planning for the future. Gaining access becomes the result of privilege.

My own mother never graduated from high school and was married at age 16. My father was 18 and barely fulfilled the requirements. He did go on to become a welder, but was forced to travel away from home to obtain work. When money was tight, my mother did odd jobs like candle eggs and work in the school cafeteria. Both of my parents worked hard and lived largely in spirit and faith. It wasn’t until I grew up and moved away that I realized how little they really had.

images (4)Children never experience poverty if there is joy and kindness of spirit. It is only by comparison that they recognize the disparity.

Mother was a divine creator of nourishing eye-pleasing meals incorporating the fish that dad caught in the summer, and the fruits and vegetables that she canned in the fall. Their garden was productive and they both enjoyed working together to provide for their family.

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I made up for their lack of education by becoming a voracious reader. I spent hours at the Public Library in pursuit of education. Thirsty for knowledge, I read through many of the classics before I even knew how precious they were.

I taught myself how to write. I devoured plays and then moved on to writing them for non-profit groups. Except for a few classes at junior colleges and universities, I taught myself how to write articles and children’s stories. I learned how to oil paint and went through every available book at my fingertips on various fine art topics from portraiture to landscape. I hungered to learn.

Having a large family of my own, there was seldom extra money for my education and barely enough for theirs. Everybody worked. Five out of six of my children all received degrees and three out of six are teachers, one is a writer, and one in finance. They were non-complaining about their student loans and grateful that these funds were available to them. All have since paid off their financial obligations.

In spite of never obtaining a degree, I was able to work as a freelance writer and have some measure of success in children’s and adult education and training. My scripts, which were much like writing a play, were financed by corporations in conjunction with film companies. I studied film making and video/movie script writing, and I prayed a lot.

Many students get through college on their parent’s dime and still have difficulty finding a job afterward. They go through the motions, obtaining that degree, but failing to absorb the knowledge that someone else has paid for. When you pay your own way and struggle not only to understand, but you crave and hunger for knowledge and success, the learning is remembered.  Your efforts are rewarded.

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Freeze-Frame Happy Moments and Save them for Later

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Lillie and Ian

Lillie and Ian

We all love taking photos of important events and celebrations in our lives. Pictures are great, but good memories are better. Here’s how to stay focused and save those special moments even when you don’t have a camera.

Say you’re out for a run, or a walk and you see a spectacular sunset. Stop! Take the time to observe what you see. Use all of your senses. Smell the air. Remember the location. Frame the picture either in your mind or by using your hands. File your personal snapshot away and pull it out later when you need a pick me up.

Daughter Pam (Grandma)

Daughter Pam (Grandma) and Truly Notice picnic outdoors with all!

A visual frame adds a second level of memory to your image. The scent and sounds around you provide a third. By the time you continue your walk, this virtual photograph will be imprinted on your mind. Why is this important? Because the greater the quantity of peaceful images and joyful experiences you can tuck into your brain, the more inner material you’ll have to draw upon when life seems bleak and unbearable.

Ask a prisoner of war or a hostage victim how they were able to endure, and they’ll tell you it was the images they were able to bring to the surface of their minds and focus upon. It wasn’t the menagerie of fun that filtered past them online or the colorful games that flitted beneath their fingertips. It was actual real-life-experiences that were embedded in their very heart and soul.

Adrienne, my oldest granddaughter

Adrienne, my oldest granddaughter

On our recent vacation we took numerous photographs of spectacular scenes and prominent places that we can enjoy again and again when we take out our photos or look for them online. But the images that remain in my head will be there forever:

  • The hugs from my granddaughters and grandsons telling me how glad they were that I came out for a visit;
  • The tears in my daughter’s eyes when it came time to say goodbye;
  • My son-in-law’s patience taking us from place to place;
  • Seeing each grandchild and great-grand-child up close and savoring each hug.
  • Being there for one of them in the ICU when she had a near-death sweep that made life seem so fragile;
  • Watching the interactions of parents and children, of grandparents and grandchildren, of lively cousins running and giggling in circles around us and then getting together for an old-fashioned ball game in the cul-de-sac.
Kayla, my oldest "great!!!!" She was in ICU, but is okay now.

Kayla, my oldest “great!!!!” She was in ICU, but is okay now.

These are the kinds of images you savor; the ones you never want to forget that warm your heart long after life has gotten back to normal.

Do I remember what kind of cars my family drives or how clean and neat their houses were? Do I recall what we ate on a given night? Absolutely not! But I do remember each smile, each face, and each sincere hug.

Am I glad I took photographs? Of course; but I also freeze-framed each beloved one in my mind’s eye, complete with my own frame that helps to emphasize how precious each once is to my heart.

Chris and his dad.

Chris and his dad, Andy.

It isn’t distance, prison, lack of freedom or old age that is our enemy, but forgetfulness. God bless those who have Alzheimer’s disease! The worst thing to happen to us would be an inability to remember who we are or to have nothing to fall back on when we’re alone.