Committed to Optimism

Arthur Tennyson, brother of the famous poet Alfred, developed cataracts in his later years and gradually went blind as a result. Nevertheless, his determination to look on the bright side was an inspiration to those who knew him. Discussing his loss of vision with a friend one day he said, “God has sent me to His night school.”

Arthur lived to be 85 and, though his sight was gone, he used his other senses to observe his surroundings. He was enjoying a walk one spring morning when he met up with a friend, to whom he expressed how excited he was by all the joys of spring he could hear and feel around him.

Modern medicine has done wonders to increase the pleasure of our older years, but nothing beats a positive outlook.

Advertisements

Free Book: Rescuing Finley

I have great news for readers who like an inspiring contemporary fiction story. Dan Walsh is one of my favorite writers and I see that his book, Rescuing Finley, is FREE today on Amazon.

Here’s my review of Rescuing Finley

Amy Wallace was a recovering meth addict, who lost her job and needed friends. Sad to say, two “friends” had in mind some shoplifting: they wanted to steal an expensive ring from a department store’s jewellery section. And they had in mind Amy should be the one to pocket the goods. Which meant Amy was the one who got caught and sent to prison.

Ever since he finished high school Chaz wanted to sign up with the Marine Corps. His mother protested angrily when he told her, “I signed up today. It’s for two years — but they’ll go fast.” She needed him to help her survive. And what about Finley?

Chaz was Finley’s whole world, the one human who loved him. Chaz’s mother barely tolerated Finley in her small apartment. We understand through his eyes how abandoned and confused he was when Chaz left — and never returned. Finley couldn’t know his master’s life ended on a battlefield, but he knew something was very wrong. Lost in her own grief Chaz’s mother couldn’t deal with a dog — especially a huge one like Finley. Feeling guilty but desperate, she dropped him off at an animal shelter.

Chris Seger’s life as he knew it also ended while on a mission in Afghanistan, when he stepped on a land mine. A permanent ticket home — minus one leg. Stateside, after months of therapy, he found work with an understanding and flexible employer, but he wrestled constantly with PTSD, depression and the nightmares. Then a pal suggested he look into this new program: service dogs for the disabled.

Dan Walsh does an excellent job of taking us through Chris, Finley, and Amy’s lives as they struggle to start again. Then he brings them together in a winning story of forgiveness and healing. At the same time he walks readers through a great program where prisoners work with dogs, training them as companions for veterans with PTSD.

I found this a terrific, heart-touching book and shed quite a few tears as I watched the story unfold. Five stars from me.

Stroke of Bad Luck

Levi groaned and shifted in bed. Groggily he opened his eyes. Man, the light hurt! Then he was jolted awake by the realization that someone was lying beside him.

He turned to see who it was and his eyes opened wide. Who was SHE? He sat up and looked around the strange room. Was he drunk? Why did his head feel so funny? He rubbed his face with his hands and noticed…a wedding ring!

Whoever she was sat up and kissed his cheek. “Morning, love.”

He rolled out of bed and stood, gripping the corner of a dresser. His glance fell on a studio photo, a wedding picture. Him and her. When? Why couldn’t he remember? He touched the picture. “Uh, how long have we been…married?”

He heard a little gasp. “It was two years last month. Levi, are you okay? Is your headache worse?”

“Headache?” he echoed and shook his head.

“You went to bed with a headache last night, remember?”

He felt no pain now but something wasn’t right. Nothing in the room looked familiar. He eyed the picture. At least he’d picked a pretty wife. Her voice was nice, too. What was her name?

He glanced out the window and the whiteness startled him. “It’s winter!”

“Maybe you should lie down again, Honey.” She sounded hesitant, worried.

Carefully he turned toward her. “My parents? Where are they? I need to see them.” Were they even still alive?

“Dad will be leaving for work about now, but Mom’ll be there at home.” She stood up and looked at him, her dark eyes reflecting her fear. “Sure. Let’s go see her. And maybe you should see a doctor, too?” She grabbed a robe and left the room.

Levi found the bathroom and had a shower. Then he hunted through dresser drawers to find clothes. He picked out some familiar ones and put them on.

When he found his way to the kitchen later he saw a laptop on the table, open to a screen headed “Signs of Stroke.” He pondered that word. Is that what had happened to him?

Writer’s note:

The dialogue is fiction, but a friend told me about a 30-year-old neighbour of hers who had a stroke in the night and five years of his life’s memory banks were completely wiped out. Not only had he gotten married a couple of years before and bought a little house, but he’d also started a business. Life can hand you a real whammy sometimes.

Enlightening Book On Depression

BOOK REVIEW:

How Hard It Really Is: A Short Honest Book About Depression
by J. S. Park

This book was written for folks who are seeking answers about this major problem. it’s for those wrestling with depression themselves and for those who want to understand what the sufferer is going through.

Pastor Park isn’t preachy; he offers no pat answers. No “Trust God, have more faith, count your blessings.” No “Think positive, just cheer up.”  No “This vitamin formula, yoga position, or new drug on the market will cure you in no time.” In fact, these pat answers make him angry because they tend to add yet more mental anguish to the sufferer. He knows. He’s been there.

“My hope here is to give a voice to those who have been depressed so they can share in their own words what they have found helpful and what they have definitely not.”

You’ll read about others — even doctors — who’ve been in, or are in, the same battle. Knowing you’re not alone can give you courage. Knowing that winning is possible is empowering. Seeing how others have climbed out of the darkness can give you courage to keep trying.

If you have a loved one who is dealing with this issue and you want a little better picture of the enemy, this book will definitely clarify some muddy waters.

The best thing we can offer each other is…our set of experiences, our voices, our ears, so that the tunnel is less intimidating and the light is not as distant as it was… It’s in sharing what we go through that we are empowered to make it through together.

The first few chapters contain a lot of basic facts; I found it rather heavy reading. This is where the writer discusses some theories behind depression, past and present, and different approaches that have been adopted in treating it.

I found the later chapters the most engaging, where he shares his own experience of being knocked for a loop, the treatments he tried, the help he found, the friends who stood beside him and made a difference, the way he finally managed to climb back out of the deep well he was in.

Sometimes there are obvious social and economic factors that trigger depression, but the writer also tells how suddenly it can hit a person:

“(It can be) …a simple punch in the face with no complex reasons, no social complexities, no biological build-up — just a sudden shock to the system. Depression can occur by a crisis event or situation and, like a face-punch, will spin you around and leave you surprised and reeling.”

He discusses the role culture plays in how we talk about and deal with this affliction. Is depression only “the white man’s disease” as some cultures say?

The section I’m Here gives some valuable tips on how we can reach out to a friend who’s struggling with depression. It’s a lot easier than you think. One thought that really impressed me: we don’t need to grab a microphone and make a rousing speech or say just the right thing to get this person through the darkness. Rather we need to give the depressed person the mike and listen. Let him share what he’s going through and how he feels. To be there is often the best gift a friend can give.

“Something powerful happens when we reach across the dark…
Fear starts to shrivel the moment it is exposed.”

The section, Who Am I Without You? deals with being so dependent on the approval of others that we crash at the smallest hint of rejection. The writer urges us to get to know ourselves, our own likes and wants. How necessary it is to stop being a people-pleaser — needing, clinging, then devastated when they feel suffocated and walk away. He tells how he learned to love others more and need them less.

In the last chapter, Elijah, By Bread and Water, he relates the account of the Biblical prophet Elijah, who had his greatest victory on Mount Carmel — followed by a vicious threat to his life that knocked him right into the cesspool of depression. Pastor Park shows us the gentle method God used to pick Elijah up and set him on his feet again, an inspiring story.

“(God) is bigger than your situation and closer than your deepest hurt. He’s not mad. He is cheering for you and rooting for you this very second. He’s okay about all the things before. He sent His Son for that very reason.”

The book’s Appendix lists different treatments for depression and hot-lines readers can call to get help or a listening ear when needed.

Amazon US Link

☆☆☆☆☆
5 stars from me.

“Going to the Dogs”

Today my mind has been tumbling bits and pieces of the latest news and all the implications, real or imagined, for our world today. A rather unprofitable pursuit, since my mulling makes not a speck of difference in the grand scheme of things.

But we do hear news that disturbs us. Then my mind went back to a song recorded in 1965, “The Eve of Destruction,” and I had to smile just a bit. We were in the Cold War years and someone pushing the button and wiping the world out with atomic warfare was everyone’s dread.

Back 52 years ago. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nam war, the KGB. We lived through all of that. We here in Canada lived through the Quebec Referendum and were not split into two nations. Then the world survived Y2K. About the time we thought things were going well 9/11 hit us all pretty hard. Air traffic around the world was frozen and we in the Western world wondered what would come next. Now President Trump is leading the US and I gather from recent reports that we’re on the Eve of Destruction again.

Yes, we’re facing serious matters one doesn’t want to take lightly, but I did think of this little poem. It pulled my mind out of the whirlpool of dark thoughts, so I decided to post it, hoping it will give someone else a glimmer of hope.

GOING TO THE DOGS

My grandad, viewing earth’s worn clogs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his house of logs,
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in the Flemish bogs
said things were going to the dogs.
His grandad in his old skin togs
said things were going to the dogs.
There’s one thing that I have to state:
the dogs have had a good long wait.

Author Unknown

Dog worried.jpg

 

Overheard

Friday Fiction chimes again in Promptland and dings in my InBox, aided by the sweet purple Tinklebell, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Many thanks to her for presiding over this notorious party-line and to J Hardy Carroll for contributing the picture that nudges our creativity this week.

It took some doing to squeeze my contribution into 100 words but I made it. The seed for this tale was planted when I worked with a fellow who peddled drugs on the side. Being on the opposite side of the spectrum from me, he was hostile and would have been delighted to see me quit, but thankfully no plotting like the type in my story.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Yeah, he hates me, but I never thought he’d go this far. And he’ll have planted enough so I’m nailed for trafficking, not just possession. You saved my life, pal!”

“I’m blown away! Sure, I recognized your coworker, but hearing your name, then ‘One call to the RCMP and she’ll be in for years.’ What’s chances I’d be right there to catch that?”

“I’ll head for the nearest police station, tell them what you overheard and ask them to search my car — before they come looking for me.”

“I’d call this one amazing happenstance!”

“I’d call it a miracle.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been away from writing for awhile, wandering through the DropBox Thousand file-lands to gather material for my upcoming book of poems and short stories. I need a better filing system! I’ve made ten sections in my book and putting each item in the right section has involved a lot of shuffling since some stories would work in several sections.

Once the manuscript was ready to be formatted, I converted it from Word Perfect to MS Word — and the fun began! My first plan (four years ago) was for a print book so I (misguidedly) purchased a number of graphics. Now I added them to my e-book file and the switch from WP to Word has thrown things out of sync big time. I don’t have Word myself, so I must take my file to our son-in-law’s computer when I want to open and read it. Which I did and was rather dismayed…

I’ve decided to do an e-book format only — but you rarely see e-books with graphics. So I’ve a question for you seasoned writers: Would you add small box graphics to illustrate an e-book of poems and (mostly) short tales?

I’ve also been beta-reading a book for Florida Pastor JS Park, who’s writing about depression with an aim to helping both those who suffer and those who want to empathize. He hopes to help readers find a better understanding and ability to cope. The book is live on Amazon.com now; you can find it here: How Bad It Really Is: A Short, Honest Book About Depression.

Got Your Back, Pal

The Friend Who Just Stands By

When troubles come your soul to try
you love the friend who just stands by.
Perhaps there’s nothing he can do;
the thing is strictly up to you

for there are troubles all your own
and paths the soul must tread alone,
bad times when love can’t smooth the road,
nor friendship lift the heavy load.

But just to feel you have a friend,
who will stand by until the end,
whose sympathy through all endures,
whose warm handclasp is always yours—

It helps somehow to pull you through,
although there’s nothing he can do.
And so with fervent heart we cry:
“God bless the friend who just stands by.”

Google tells me this poem was written by
William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963