Archive for July, 2021

Mama’s Final Gift

Friday, July 30th, 2021

This year, I will observe Mother’s Day without my own mother for the first time. I am still dealing with the emotions of watching her slip away and being helpless to stop the process. I’m sure I’ll be doing so for a long time.

My mother left me and my sisters free to deal with our loss by several decisions that she made years ago. I offer this information in an effort to share the importance of the difference that those decisions made.

  1. First, my mother purchased a funeral plan years ago. She had the policy and made sure all of us knew that it existed. It covered her funeral and cremation and almost all of the expenses. We had a final bill of just over $300.00 for a few incidentals that we elected to have. Everything else was covered: the casket for the funeral service, transporting her and preparing her for the service, the chapel, all of it.
  2. Second, she told all of us what she wanted: the songs she wanted to be played, the color she wanted to wear, all of the little details that can tear a family apart at such a time. She made sure that there would be no question about her final wishes, so no conflict about her service.
  3. Third, she prepared a power of attorney so that her affairs could be handled when she became incapacitated by failing vision and Alzheimer’s. Her bills got paid on time and she always had what she needed, because she provided the means for things to be done.
  4. Fourth, she left her health care wishes documented. She had a Living Will and Advanced Directive in place and a Do Not Resuscitate order on file. She told all of us repeatedly what she did and didn’t want. Long before dementia set in, she insisted we all know her feelings. As hard as it was to have those conversations over the years and to let her go when the situation became hopeless, we all knew that it was what she wanted and we abided by her wishes.

Because of her foresight and consideration, we were able to focus on her. Her clarity in advance of the need freed us to follow her wishes without dissension. This doesn’t mean we don’t hurt. We do hurt, and deeply. But we didn’t have any arguments about how things should be done because we knew exactly how she wanted them done.

Her planning worked because of two key factors. The first was her disclosure of those plans to all four of us. The second was our desire to see her final wishes fulfilled. I’ve been in situations where disclosure was incomplete or egos got in the way. Those conditions make a difficult and painful experience even harder.

I thank God for my mother’s planning and my sisters’ support of her plans. Because of those things, we were able to say our temporary goodbyes without rancor or dissension. Our last earthly memories of her are untarnished by anger or bitterness. Thanks, Mama, for your final gift to us.

We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.

Growing Up with Substance Abusive Parents

Thursday, July 29th, 2021

Growing up with a parent who has a substance abuse problem can introduce a chaotic environment to a child. I grew up with a dad who was addicted to alcohol and drugs. Luckily, I was only exposed to this environment for the first three years of my life, but the things I experienced from the onset of substance abuse were life-changing. According to the book “How to Rise Above Abuse,” Hunt discusses the effects that abuse has on young children as one becomes an adult such as issues with relationships, employment, and major decision making.

Know that these experiences do not define you as a person, only you have the power to define yourself, but you may be faced with side effects of this unruly upbringing.


You may become more sensitive to having anxiety as a result of having a substance abusive parent. You may worry excessively about the future of test results, jobs, relationships, or anything that can cause change. Living with a substance abuser can cause mood swings and unpredictable behavior such as anger outbursts, emotional and/or physical violence. Therefore, you were always anticipating the next outrage from your parent and can keep one on edge. Finding ways to release anxiety helps such as exercising and meditation.


Growing up with abusive parents can cause one to experience bouts of depression. When anxiety reaches great heights, the down from that can be times of severe exhaustion, sleeping over usual time frames, differences in weight, and possible isolation. Being in tune with your body can help you identify when these bouts of depression occur and you can make the necessary changes to prevent it. Ways to prevent depression are to get adequate sleep, monitor diet, and exercise regularly.


For my situation, my father was an addict and my mother was codependent; therefore, I inherited codependency traits. Feeling like another person defines you and that you have no value or worth without that person are all signs of codependency. Overcoming codependency is not an easy journey. I have personally had to unlearn unhealthy behaviors and rebuild new healthy behaviors. The hardest hurdles can be setting boundaries and sticking to them.


The drama that ensues from an addicting environment can be very sporadic. You may feel like your life is boring if there is nothing going on. Therefore, some people create drama to keep up with the cycle of uproar. If you find yourself addicted to watching melodramas on television and your friends amuse you on their recent relationship debacles, then take a step back and lessen your time with these forms of entertainment. Find other ways to spend your time such as reading or painting.


There will always be hope inside of you for a brighter day. Hold onto it. It is your stronghold and will get you out of your cycle and situation. When you educate yourself on the matter of substance abuse, learn the cycle, learn how you contribute to the situation, then you can become a better you.

“Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy.” – Jefferson Bethke


Help Your Children Protect Their Environment

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Today’s children are exposed to scary headlines about the environment and they may feel nervous when they see such events as Hurricane Sandy’s devastation on the East Coast. You can help your children take charge of these feelings. Help them overcome their feelings of vulnerability by giving them specific tasks to improve the environment.

Obviously, you should use recycling

Perhaps your city has a recycling system set up where your trash is assigned to various units. Your child can help you sort paper products and plastic to save and recycle. Older children can research where recycling opportunities are available in your community.

Kids love to muck around in the dirt

Teach them how to create a compost pile. You can show them how to save apple cores, potato peels, coffee grounds, and other organic leftovers. Let them handle the compost pile. They will get a lot of satisfaction out of adding to it on a regular basis, turning the material, and using it to plant new plants.

Let them choose and plant their own flowers, fruits, or vegetables

You can give them advice about what will work and what won’t work. For instance, if you live in a cold climate, they may have to wait a while to plant spring flowers. But don’t take over their garden. Children will get a lot of satisfaction from creating their own growth.

In many places, the topic of drinking water preservation is very serious

You might encourage your children to practice saving freshwater. Does it take a while for the water in the bathtub to heat up? Have them save this water in a bucket and use it to water their garden. If they take showers, they can throw that same bucket in the bathtub and collect some clean water from the leftover shower water. Remind them that soap doesn’t always work well on plants.

If your children have old toys, help them learn to recycle and thereby help other people

Have them round up the toys and take them to a collection center of some sort. Goodwill Industry has collection centers all over the country and they love getting toys. Habitat for Humanity has collection centers in many places. And your local church may have collection centers to donate items to those who can’t afford to buy them. Encourage your children to understand that by recycling something they no longer use, they are not only benefiting someone else, but they are benefiting the earth.

Older children can learn to recycle all those many electronics they no longer use. Did you buy your child a new cell phone? What are they going to do with the old one? Let them do the research and decide the best manner of disposal. Perhaps the phone is not worth passing along to someone else, in which case they can find a local center to recycle used electronics.

Children may not say they’re worried about the changing environment. But you have an opportunity to let them learn how to change what they can by their own actions. Help your children learn to be good stewards of the earth, and you will teach them to be more confident about their future.

You might also like this article: 12 Step Programs for Addition Recovery

Living with a Schizophrenic

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

For as far back as my memory can recall, I’ve been around family members who had been struck down by Schizophrenia. This is a mental disease that causes the victim to suffer visual and auditory hallucinations. If the proper medication isn’t prescribed, or if the person inflicted with the disease refuses to take his medication, the symptoms may cause the victim to go through severe trials.

It seems as though Schizophrenia runs in my family. One of my uncles, one of my aunts and even my mother were all diagnosed with the disease years ago. For a long time, my anxiety (which is yet another mental disease) nearly paralyzed me with the fear that even I would at some point also be diagnosed with Schizophrenia. It was something that I thought about daily, constantly. All that stress has left its permanent mark on my face.

I’ve already begun losing my hair, and whenever I am worked up about something, my head begins to throb. Of course, that’s not just from my anxiety. When you couple my anxiety along with all the other stresses in my life, you have a recipe for disaster.

I live with my uncle. He’s a schizophrenic. Try to imagine being awoken at 3:00 AM by the hysterical, high pitched screams of a grown man who is arguing with people that do not exist. Dealing with this type of disease is taxing on everyone involved, not just the person suffering hallucinations. There have been several occasions where I wanted nothing more than to yell at him, and just tell him to be quiet.

I can’t do normal things that other people would do. I can’t sit in the living room and read a book or write, because this person’s constant yelling makes it unbearable. I’d rather go to work, but I can already see myself being frustrated that I can’t concentrate on anything properly because of this. It is a daily thing that is very hard to deal with, but you have to learn to live with it.

When it comes down to it, I can’t really be angry at him. After all, it’s not necessarily his fault that this disease decided to claim him. According to my grandparents, he used to be a very decent person. He had a job at some grocery store where, at one point, he was even going to be promoted to Manager, but then this happened. It is a sad and unfortunate thing, so I don’t hold any ill will toward him, but at the same time, I simply cannot be around him.

Here’s a helpful guide for those who are in the same situation.

Today is the Day to Lose Negative Attitudes

Friday, July 23rd, 2021


I must have got up on the wrong side of the bed today. My day started bad and went downhill from there.

Here are a few of the ‘wrongs’ that I was feeling:

  • I just knew all my recent decisions were wrong
  • My hair looked horrible – I just could not get it to behave
  • I was not feeling loved – people just hang around me because they need something
  • I was heading off to work for yet another day of no respect
  • I was fat, ugly and I had no shoes to wear

So you see my day was horrible. You can surely understand why I was griping and whining.


Worms are those insistent negative thoughts that keep trying to wiggle their way into our minds. And I was on a very unhealthy mental diet of them.

Is your diet filled with worms? They are easy to identify. You don’t even need to read one of those difficult nutrition charts to find them.

Here are a few clues to help you determine your daily intake of worms:

  • Worms almost always start with the word “I”, and if they don’t they will contain the words “my”, “mine” or “me”.
  • They are only interested in self.
  • Worms are never positive although they do not mind hearing positive self-interested comments from others in response to their negative comments. (“I look ugly.” “No, you don’t. You are beautiful.”)
  • Worms want to be heard. They look for people to talk with to help spread their negativity.
  • Worms would rather be alone to sulk than to be with someone who has a positive attitude.

As soon as I determined that I was on a worm-filled diet I decided to make some changes. It is really quite simple to rid yourself of those slippery, devious worms.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Say WORMS as loud as you can. It will make you laugh and start your attitude change.
  • Get away from anyone who is passing out worms – stay away from negative influences.
  • Make a point of praising someone
  • Find someone who needs some help – and help them
  • Compliment another person to a third party Be open and loving Be cooperative
  • How has your mental diet been today? Was it filled with self-interested negativity, those worms? Or were you on a healthy positive diet?

When circumstances are somewhat “normal”, you are in complete control of the joy within your day. Even when there are unexpected circumstances you are in control of your reactions or responses.

If you find yourself having an awful day, if you just feel as if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, take a moment to look at the clues listed above and see if you are on a bad mental diet.

If you find that you are being unduly negative say WORMS and then change your perspective. Start right now. The people who love you are waiting…….

12 Step Programs for Addition Recovery

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

When you think of 12 step programs, you automatically think of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is where it originated. The basis of the 12 step programs can be used in a variety of different situations but is widely used in programs that treat addictions. The 12 step program has traditionally been based on Christian ideology but can be changed to meet each individual’s recovery needs.

According to, the steps are as follows:

  1. powerlessness
  2. hope
  3. faith
  4. inventory
  5. honesty
  6. preparation
  7. letting go
  8. humility
  9. forgiveness
  10. continuous inventory
  11. conscious contact
  12. carrying the message

Those people who are in recovery need to focus on each step individually and not move on to the next until the previous step has been completed. These steps or a variation thereof are used in most 12 step programs, and challenge the person in recovery to stay on task and address the issues that are destroying them.

12 step programs are structured so that everyone is working toward the same goal, even though their situations may be very different. The 12 steps bring together all of the issues surrounding the addiction and the subsequent resolution of what is a very destructive cycle. Depending on what type of problems are being addressed, and the level of severity, 12 step programs are worked at the individual’s pace, and not something that is given a strict time frame for completion.

Support offered by others in recovery as well as by sponsors, counselors, friends and families, and others, is instrumental in completing the 12 step program successfully.

Appreciate good people, they are hard to come by.

You will find good people here.

Completing the steps is challenging for everyone, and may even seem impossible for some, but once a person seeks recovery and chooses a 12 step program, he or she has made a commitment to rediscover themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Some people seeking treatment and recovery may not feel comfortable with 12 step programs that use a Christian-based approach, and this is alright. Many 12 step programs encourage people to interpret the steps in a way that works for them. Various treatment facilities and recovery programs use a non-biased interpretation of the 12 steps and encourage participants to complete the program in accordance with their own beliefs.

12 step programs have proven to be very effective, and have helped many people turn their lives around for good. Recovery is a constant process, and 12 step programs encourage participants to continue to work the steps even after they have conquered their addiction, to keep them focused and on task.

You can read more here: