Freedom and Motorcycles

I love this quote!  It gives life to something I have come to feel very strongly lately. While our life is very good, the past 6 or 7 years have felt, at times, like a never-ending flogging with those wonderful things called “growing experiences”. While we have seen and felt God’s love and tender mercies in our behalf, it has been a trial to press forward with faith.

Our kids are mostly grown, the baby is 17 1/2 now and pretty self-sufficient. Paul and I have realized that we have spent the last 25 years raising kids, and not necessarily developing mutual interests outside of child rearing. I have had several friends go through divorces at these stages in their marriages, and the commonality seems to be that they have also been caught in the same rut. While Paul and I love just being together, we feel it is important to have mutual activities that we enjoy together. And so we bought a motorcycle. This may seem ridiculously common in the minutia of daily life to the rest of you, but when you have a background in ICU and ER nursing you see your share of the results of a “donorcycle” lifestyle. Paul had a bike when we married, but I made him get rid of it when the children started coming along. It seemed so irresponsible to intentionally place ourselves in a position where the odds of shining St Peter’s gate earlier than planned would be stratospherically elevated. Ok, maybe not stratospherically (oh, I DO love that word!!), but definitely heightened. Hearing frequent calls of “Trauma code motorcycle vs automobilewas just too much for me.
Now, those kids can survive without us…it would be difficult but they could do it….so the time has come to resume our shared hobby. Yesterday, we hooked up with friends and family and took a ride to an amazingly beautiful area. We had even lived there many years ago but never took the time to enjoy what was in our backyard. As we rode along, the lyrics to “America, the Beautiful” kept running through my mind; maybe these pics will show you why.

Oh Beautiful, for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountains majesties

Above the fruited plain!

Where else but America can you worship how you want, say what you want, be who you want to be, and go wherever you want to go without having to present a passport at the state line? So far, we still have those liberties, but we must be vigilant to safeguard them.

Ok, now some pics of the fam and friends!! Woot Woot!!

the crew: John, Beth, Paul, JC, Lena,Jimmy, Kelly, Adam, Nik, Telisha, and Dylan.

The barn that the govt built?! The barn to nowhere!! So funny!

Adam and his uncle John and Pauls best friend since high school-JC-deciding how the world should run Lena and Beth taking a break from the bikes.

Quick roadside butt break.

Hitting the cooler for some water and pop, then back on the road.

Paul and I, loving the freedom!

Dylan and Telisha

From the top of the Butte you can see 70-100 miles. It was absolutely gorgeous!!

Dylan and Telisha- on top of the world in more than one way!

“They came, they saw, they conquered. How do we top that?”

And there’s nothing like finishing the day with a midnite dinner at Shari’s! Yummy and great company!! Thanks guys, for including us in such a fun Independence Day!

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signing smiles

Our lives are filled with signs . Some of them are helpful..

Some of them not so much!

Some signs are confusing like this one below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some of them are downright hilarious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other signs, however that are not so easy to read, and they can be crucial for us to learn to pick up and interpret correctly. The following excerpt is a post from a blog titled “the Brave Girls Blog” and the post is titled:

We Must See Past What it Seems…..

4th January 2011 by melody under Everyday Brave, Featured Post

After a dear friend telling me about a hurtful experience she’d had this week…..I began thinking again about a story I have told a few times….a story that my children will tell to their children, and maybe even beyond that… because it was such a learning experience in our family….maybe even a turning point…it’s a story that I think about often because we were the main characters in it 3 or 4 years ago, and even though it was something that lasted less than 15 minutes….it changed all of us….and now I see others differently, especially when it seems that they might be main characters in the same story…or one a lot like it. I used to be too embarrassed to tell this story….but I am not anymore. This is a human story that everyone needs to hear, I truly believe this…I hope you will stay with it, it’s kinda long.

As we move along…I want you to think about some of the big signs with big messages that I bet you wish you could wear around your neck sometimes so that people would be more gentle….or even that you could put around the neck of someone you love….so that you didn’t have to go into a big long story to defend yourself or someone else….so that people would just stop judging and and just be kind.

First, if you don’t know my history because you are brand new to Brave Girls Club…welcome welcome welcome! I need to start this story by giving you a little bit of background….. you see, my husband had an accident in 2004 that injured the frontal lobe of his brain……it has taken 6 years to get him back……but in the middle there, between 2004 and now…lots and lots of stuff happened. He was essentially out of it…but not just that….he changed to someone else, we lost him. His personality changed completely, he could not work, he was angry and depressed and could not cope with human beings.  He did not feel love or affection, really he only felt anger…rage…and he was suicidal most of the time. He did not remember a lot of things. He could not take care of our family or even himself, really……..(and I want to mention again that through lots of miracles, he is 100% recovered now…we are so thankful….he is even BETTER than he was before his accident)

But……during that time…..he would have these confusing and amazing glitches of time when he would be totally normal. It was bittersweet. They would last for an hour sometimes, and sometimes for days…or even weeks…then he would sink back down into that horrible place. When he was sick, I protected him fiercely. I didn’t want anyone to see him like that…I had faith that someday he would recover….but man oh man it was lonely…I wished every single day that I could just walk around with a sign like this….

….because on the outside…I looked like I had EVERYTHING GOING FOR ME…I looked like I might just have a perfect life….but I was hiding a very painful secret….

Well…a lot of other things happened too………you can imagine what might happen over the years while we have a 7 acre farm, a pretty big international business that we own with lots of employees…..a life that  HE managed before his accident, while he just let me do the fun and creative stuff….now we had lots of medical bills…lots of sorrow and lots of distractions……we also had LOTS of kids…..and no one competent managing the business…

Well…after a few years, I couldn’t hold it all together…our business was suffering for all of the reasons listed above and a few more reasons on top of that……..and we discovered that we were really SINKING. Well……one day when he was partly lucid….he was THERE…he was coherent….I told him the condition of our life.

He kind of panicked and he went straight to work figuring out what he could do. It was insanely heartbreaking when he would “wake up” after weeks or months and I had to tell him how much things were deteriorating financially, etc. It was very hard. But when he could, he did what he could….before his mental illness sucked him back into the prison it kept him in most of the time.

He called a sign place and had a huge sign brought out to our house…the kind that you can put letters on, and it was electric and lit up…….He put it by the road in one of our horse fields……then he drove our Suburban….both of our trucks….my classic Thunderbird that he got me for my birthday a few years earlier…..our tractor…all of our tractor implements…the boat that I worked 10 years to get for him (and that caused his brain injury, incidentally)……….and he lined everything up along the fence and he put a price tag on every single thing. Then, he put the letters on that big huge sign and plugged it in.

You have to understand that we had worked for MANY years for those things. We started a business in our twenties and we sacrificed everything we had for all of those years to make it work. We owned almost all of it outright…….but, when I told him that the business was struggling….this is what he did….

Sooooo…..there it was….all in a row……all of our stuff…..out in our field.

All of the neighbors driving by…our friends…the community…..people who knew us most of our lives and people who knew nothing about us…..we were just the young family who lived in that beautiful little farm house on Beacon Light road with the perfect lawn….or what USED to be.

You see, in addition…for months….our once beautifully manicured yard started to be filled with weeds that were now several feet high. I just couldn’t keep it up. The lawn was a nightmare. Everything was just falling apart all around me and my heart was broken over my husband, too. It was humiliating and exhausting and horrible, really.

Well, the sign was not up in the field for more than a few hours…….when my husband’s phone rang….it was someone who saw all the stuff and my husband’s phone number on the big huge sign. We were sitting out in the yard while he was still coherent and he was feeling devastated about the condition of our lawn…..I was apologizing that I just couldn’t do all of it………..he was so heartbroken at his limitations and that he had left me to try to handle our life alone……we were trying to make a plan…..

He answered his phone…I saw that he was just listening…I could hear that the person’s voice was getting louder and louder and louder………..my husband just listened. He turned his back to me a little so I wouldn’t hear. But I could hear it….It seemed to go on and on and on……..

These were the things I could hear on the other end of the phonecall….

“You are bringing down the value of my property with that ugly sign!”

“What are you doing?”

“That is the most obnoxious sign, do you have a permit to have that out there?”

“Are you starting a used car lot?”

“You have got to get all of that moved and out of here or I am calling the authorities”

I sat there, mortified, embarrassed, humiliated, mad, sad, devastated. I was certain that this would snap my husband back into his dark hellish place.

But, when the man was done ranting, my husband waited a second and then very calmly said something that I will never, ever forget…….

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

The man was silent…..and then my husband went on to tell him a few details about what was going on with our family….

The man waited a moment and then his tone changed…..he apologized….I mean, really apologized and then said…

“I am going to call all of my friends and see if any of them need any of this stuff….”

***************************************

I wish with everything in me that we could have put a sign up on that big stupid lit up billboard in our field that said OUR LIFE IS FALLING APART….  but all that we really could put up is a sign with the price of everything that we owned that was worth any money…….

WHAT IF we could all wear a sign that said what WE REALLY MEANT? What if we could go straight past the small talk……..or the masks…….and we could actually go straight to the heart of the matter…….what if our friends and family wore signs like this?

…we would treat each other differently.

I think we should just try to imagine it………that when a friend is quiet…or not showing up to stuff she usually shows up to….or acting a little “off”….or a family member is wearing pajamas to the grocery store for weeks on end……or not answering the phone…..or the lawn is not mowed…..

whatever it is……….

IT IS A SIGN. It is not a sign that can be read in words and letters, but it is a sign that someone needs to be treated gently…that they need help….most of all, that they need love, understanding…and that they DEFINITELY DO NOT need to be judged.

Every time I think of this story….I want to be better…I want to do better, I don’t want any silent signs to go unread before my eyes or my heart…..I don’t want to make up my own answers to what must be going on…I don’t want to assume………..

Let’s be gentle with each other.

Let’s read each other’s signs.

Like all of us, I have been remiss innumerable times at taking the time and or effort to correctly pick up on and interpret the signs of those around me. This post brought home to me how we daily have opportunities to mitigate the pain and distress of our fellow human beings, and how whether we make the most of those opportunities can contribute to their agony or alleviate their suffering. As I have thought about it, I wonder why we do or don’t come to the aid of those whose pain we DO notice. What makes us ignore them, and what makes us care? And that brought to mind Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians: Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease;, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away…..And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

At the end of the day, at the end of time as we know it, all that will matter and all that we take with us, will be what we have learned, and how we have spent and used this little moment of our earthly sojourn.  William Ernest Henley spoke to the natural man’s tendencies to look out for #1 in his poem “Invictus” :

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

What Henley didn’t understand is the purpose of our life here on earth. Orson F Whitney perfectly and simply framed our divine nature and eternal potential using the same meter as Henley but titled it “The Soul’s Captain” :

Art thou in truth? Then what of him
Who bought thee with his blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood?
Free will is thine—free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto him
To whom all souls belong.
Bend to the dust that head “unbowed,”
Small part of life’s great whole!
And see in him, and him alone,
The Captain of thy soul.
He is the Captain of my soul, however unworthy I am to be called His servant.  I hope I can keep this post in mind as I go through my days, and make a difference in someone else’s life.

Here a blog, There a blog

I just got home from Relief Society ( a womens meeting for our church). It was all about keeping a history of our lives and the different ways there are to do this. One gal spoke about blogging, and about how it helped her keep in touch with her family while living far away, and then how it became a therapeutic outlet. Another spoke about journaling, and another about digital scrapbooking. Still another showed a “scrapbook” that was so beautiful, about her husband’s life, and then a copy of it hardbound. As I was sitting there, a good friend turned to me and asked why I quit blogging. Her question caught me by surprise as I hadn’t ever really decided to “quit”. As I thought about it, I realized that it was fear that had caused me to stop expressing my feelings in this forum. Fear that my feelings might offend someone, that I was hanging my dirty laundry out to dry, that my children’s lives might be affected by what I shared here. This good friend then shared something one of her professors told her; and that was, that those feelings should be expressed, and opinions should be aired, and by using discretion I could discuss private issues and thus protect the privacy of those I am closest to.

I first began to blog about 5 years ago. This same friend had a blog which I loved to follow, and that led me to other blogs. Soon I wanted to join the blogosphere. My intent was to share ideas, as well as to document the happenings of our family. She taught me how to set up a blog, and that was all it took, I was off to the races. I remember my first entry was “the top 25 things about me”. I talked about my love for roller coasters, my kids, my testimony, and on and on. Soon the political climate was being discussed and of course I offended some people. I shared the story of how Nikita came to our family, his adoption story, and his choice to move out one very painful day in October. The difficult straits my children would find themselves in through the diagnosis and early treatment of bipolar disorder, my daughter’s horrific car accident and brain injury. The endless hours on the road going from specialist to specialist and therapist to therapist. I remember one January being so depressed from the never ending grey skies and blogging about that- I even uploaded a picture of a dead tree by a lake to express my disgust with the elements!

And now, it is January again, and the skies are grey again, and my children still have bipolar disorder. But lots of things have changed for the better and time is healing wounds that were so terribly painful I thought they would never close. My daughter is in her internship at a juvenile correction facility, then has one more semester to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with emphasis in Criminal Justice. She has been stable on her meds for over a year, and is an honor student. She not only keeps up with her classes, but has founded a local chapter of NAMI on her campus, and works in a group promoting her choice for our next US President.

Nikita remains living on his own, but now comes around to visit, bringing his girlfriend who is super sweet. Our relationship is improving all the time, and it is a beautiful thing. He is in no way interested in the Gospel, and doesn’t come to church, but he is respectful of our lifestyle, and encourages Adam to follow our guidelines. We have great hopes that someday his heart will soften and he will return to what he knows to be the truth.

Dylan lives in a resident firefighter house with other volunteer firefighters. He is taking his EMT course and loving it. He hopes to go on to Paramedic training. He is not planning on a mission in the near future, but he continues to keep himself worthy to do so. We are so proud of him and his ethics and standards. He is a leader at his station, and continues to grow and mature.

Adam is the last child at home. We are enjoying having  these last two years with him, and I am loving the one on one time with him. We are watching movies, taking road trips, and working together. He is working hard in school, and has decided on meteorology as a career choice. Before we know it, it will be mission time for him! Yikes! What will it be like to be empty nesters?

This year in Young Men’s and Young Women’s the theme is D&C 115:5- “Verily I say unto you all- Arise and shine forth that thy light may be a standard for the nations.”

Why do you care? Because in Olympia, Washington, on January 23 at 10:00 am, the same sex marriage legislation will be presented in committee. Of the 25 senators needed to pass this legislation making it legal to have same gender marriage, 22 have already indicated they will vote to pass it. What can you do? If you live in this state, go to Olympia, be there by 9:00 and sign in ready to testify. At least go and show your face and your desire to send this legislation to the garbage can. Be in the room, be in the halls, be in the building and on the campus of the state capitol. If we can kill it in committee, it will take another session of Congress to bring it back again, and it will have to start over in committee. If we don’t kill it now it will go directly to Congress for a vote. “Verily I say unto you all- Arise, and shine forth that thy light may be a standard for the nations”.

And that’s what I’ve got to say.

 

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free Epictetus quotes (Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, AD 55-c.135)

When the Family gets together

33 years ago, I met the nicest lady. She lived just down the street from us, and had 2 kids still at home that were just older and just younger than I. I remember how quiet and kind she always was, and especially how much she loved her family. She had some older kids that were kind of “wild” (that’s what we called it back then), hence she spent a lot of time helping to raise their children while they struggled along doing the best they could. There were many many months that I watched her love and nurture those little tikes, patiently guiding their parents, praying that her children would return to the gospel she so loved.  Later, I watched those children, now on their own with those same little ones, pull together when there was crisis- when the father had 2 heart attacks, open heart surgery, job losses, and finally as their mother fought a losing battle with adenocarcinoma. They spent every moment they could with her, encouraging her, loving her, staying with her to help out. By now, I was part of the family, and had developed an even deeper respect and love for that gentle, serving soul. She had insisted on regular family reunions- not the “afternoon in the park” kind, but a long weekend spent playing games, visiting, camping, and singing. The most important thing I learned from her was this one simple truth; that when the rubber hits the road, family is all you really have, and family will always be there to pull you along, dig you out of your pit, and kick you in the butt when your motivator seems to be out of order.  She had a deep and undying love for her Savior, and made sure each of her children, in-laws and out laws, and grandchildren knew it.

December 5 will mark 11 years since she left us and rejoined her parents in that sphere where there is no pain. For about 22 years, each of six siblings has taken turns hosting a reunion every other year. This weekend, all of her children, most of the out-laws and in-laws and grandchildren gathered together to celebrate family. Bonnie and her hubby Doug, found a beautiful lodge that would meet all the needs of such a large family, and rented it for the weekend. It was up in the mountains, and we were greeted by a fresh snowfall.

From our bedroom window

a little clearer peek- don't you love that brickwork?

Lovin' me that kitchen!!

We talked, laughed, cried, played, slept, and just had an all around great time!

The next pro pool national team

the never say die gamers....

the traditional all night poker game....

a late night gaggle of gabbers

Karen, Jim, and Bonnie with little Lincoln

showin the love- Bob lovin' on his wife Karen

yak attack

The Kildow clan

And at the end of the day, when the rubber meets the road, this family

will always have each others’ back, will always love each member, and

will always be in the cracks between the rubber and the road. For this

family I am thankful.

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free Epictetus quotes (Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, AD 55-c.135)

because it matters

Ok, I don’t want to do the abc thing. It’s not what I want to write about. So I won’t. I want to write about something I care about, something that moves me.

Can I just say that I HATE Bipolar disorder ? ‘Cuz I really do. It robs children and adults alike of the joy that life has to offer, instead offering endless days and nights of cycling torture. There is no cure, and medicine’s only “take the edge off” of the symptoms, leaving a foggy mind that is expected to function as quickly as everyone else does.

What does mental illness look like?

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5-7% of all children and adolescents, but that number is rising as doctors are learning to recognize the symptoms. Children and adolescents may present differently than adults, but research is showing that as these children mature, their diagnosis remains the same. When the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV was published, this disorder had not yet been recognized in the pediatric population.

Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by symptoms of other psychiatric disorders (those other disorders are said to be “comorbid” with the bipolar disorder). In some children, proper treatment for bipolar disorder clears up the symptoms thought to indicate another diagnosis. In other children, bipolar disorder may explain only part of a more complicated case that includes neurological, developmental, and other components. An accurate diagnosis of a child or teen presenting with severely troubled behavior is perhaps the most problematic issue facing families.

Diagnoses that mimic, mask, or co-occur with pediatric bipolar disorder include:  

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)* 
  • Depression** 
  • Oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD) 
  • Conduct disorder (CD) 
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) 
  • Panic disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Tourette’s syndrome (TS) 
  • Seizure disorders 
  • Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)

* It is estimated that 85% of children with bipolar disorder also have ADHD and up to 22% of children with ADHD have bipolar disorder.3  

**Depression in children and teens is often chronic and cyclical. A significant proportion of the millions of children and adolescents with depression may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder, but have not yet experienced the manic phase of the illness.

Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as:

  • ADHD or ADHD with depression
  • Depression
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse



Just, as juvenile diabetes is generally a more severe disorder than adult-onset diabetes, pediatric bipolar disorder appears to be more perilous than adult-onset bipolar disorder. The rationale for early intervention is compelling.

http://www.thebalancedmind.org/learn/library/about-pediatric-bipolar-disorder?page=1

There is also some evidence that children with bpd may have smaller amygdala’s than other children. Because the amygdala is an organ in the brain that controls emotion, this is a significant finding.

So, why did I post all this? Because it affects 3 of my 4 children. Because they have a label. Because their label, instead of inducing compassion and empathy in others like a label of juvenile diabetes does, instead induces statements like “weird” “psycho” and other less attractive terms. Because the next time someone is behaving a little out of the ordinary, instead of talking about them, snubbing them, and being just downright rude, maybe you will take a moment to brighten a day that may very well have been planned to end in a suicide attempt. Maybe you will realize that there is a human being in there that also needs care and affection and understanding. Maybe you will talk to your teens about mental illness, and attempt to destimatize it, understanding that it is a biological disorder just like diabetes, cancer, or any other more “sexy” diagnosis. And just maybe, you can save a life. Because that is what this Man taught, all of His earthly days, and continues to teach now.

B & C

  • Living in the country is an experience I wouldn’t trade. Watching the seasons change, and all the colors in the fields is a daily, ongoing , joy. My camera is never far away, and although a beginner, I enjoy trying to capture the subtle nuances of nature and her humorous jabs at us as we determinedly declare the beginning and end of each harvest cycle. This year has been no different. Following a mild winter, spring came……or did it? Temperatures stayed laughingly low for the calendar month, not warming into summerlike caresses until the middle of July, and then only staying until September when Autumn‘s cooldown began to change the colors of the leaves, and the rains began to return green to parched pastures and lawns. Having the blessing of irrigation, our area doesn’t fear drought to the extent that other parts of the country does. Still, the busy-ness of summer fun can lead to the neglect of sprinklers and fertilizer application.

Kitten anyone?

  • Which brings me to B. B is for busy, and that is what our spring and summer epitomized. No, we didn’t do much playing- just a little. Most of our summer was spent in projects around the house- re-siding, fencing, irrigation, gardening, etc. And THAT led to the craziness of my homemaking efforts.
 
Dylan some time up north swathing- gorgeous!!
  • C is for canning: tomato sauce, corn, carrots,beans, jams, berries, and grapes and apples are still on the horizon.  The tomatoes are still going great guns, but I’ve been feeding the exhausted bean plants to the goats and chickens.              I canned a lot of corn and beans, and promptly forgot to take a picture before putting them all away. What a goombaw I am!    See you soon for D & E! Happy Saturday!!