Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Safe Travel Helps Your Wanderlust

Ah the wanderlust of travel. It creeps upon us and we throw up our hands and say YES, YES, let’s explore this amazing earth.

But before you head out the door, if you are planning on International Travel, you need to think about health and illness prevention. Being ill when you are miles away from home and familiar doctors does not fulfill any part of the desire for wanderlust.

On the Plane 

If you are flying to far off places, your flight will most probably be long. Some airlines serve food and others will sell you boxes of snacks. Either way, find out if you can request meals and snacks that are healthy—think low in salt and sugar. If it’s possible to bring a snack bag of low-fat, low cholesterol and low salt foods on board, do so. You probably have to purchase these snacks after going through security.

During a long flight it’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine as both of these can hasten dehydration. Some folks even experience head congestion, caused by poor air circulation as well as alcohol consumption. Drinking a glass of water or fruit juice per hour will keep you hydrated and make you get up and use the bathroom—which is good for you and fights against the effects of prolonged sitting. And if you are prone to swelling in the feet and legs, compression socks or hose should be part of your travel outfit.

Get Your Shots

Immunization is the other key to travel—you have to prepare your body as it doesn’t want to deal with viruses and bacteria it is not familiar with and won’t be able to handle.

Think of immunizations as part of your prep for travel. Maybe even more important than your suitcase, immunizations are something you carry with you to protect you from very serious illnesses.

Contact your local health department and ask to speak to an RN about your travel plans. Health departments have charts which indicate what immunizations you will need depending on the country you are traveling to.

For example: if you are going to India, the following immunizations fall under the category Recommended/Required: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. The following fall under recommended: Japanese encephalitis, polio and rabies. And Yellow Fever is required!

While researching immunizations, I was extremely impressed by the following website Passport Health USA. Not only does it cover immunizations but weather, the locations of U.S. Embassies, safety and security tips and if you do need medical attention, what processes to follow. Travel agents often have access to similar information, but if you do all of your reservations online, a site like this one is extremely valuable. To find a Passport Health near you check out this link.

Plan Ahead for Immunizations

Don’t wait until a few weeks before your departure to check on immunizations. Some require a few weeks within your body to be effective and some health departments might not be able to take you stat! So call ahead and talk to someone who knows what immunizations you will need and can set up an appointment that will work with your schedule.

More Travel Tips Below are some more ways to stay healthy while traveling.

  • Frequently clean your hands with a gel cleanser kept in your purse or pocket; remember to buy a size less than 3 oz. that can go through security.
  • Use the hand sanitizer often, especially after trips to washrooms.
  • If on an airplane, turn off the overhead vent; you don’t need the draft and you don’t know what the air contains that it blowing on you.
  • Swab a small amount of an antibiotic cream like Bactroban inside your nostrils before leaving home; the cream will help fight viruses that want to make a home in your nose.
  • If you are immunocompromised from a chronic illness, purchase a N-95 mask to wear on a plane or train, especially if the people around you are coughing or sneezing;
  • Clean the seatbelt, tray table and arms of your plane seat with sanitary wipes;
    you might think to swab your suitcase handle when you pull it off the belt on arrival.
  • Try not to touch your face as you travel and if someone sneezes, close your eyes. Viruses love to enter through our eyes, mouth and nose.
  • Some travelers flush their noses with saline solution once they arrive at the hotel etc. You can try NeilMed Sinus Rinse that is available at drug stores.
  • Always have plenty of tissue with you.
  • Finally, wearing ear plugs protects you from sinus pressure as you take-off and land on airplanes and can provide a quieter environment if you happen to be around noisy passengers.

So BON  VOYAGE!!!!!!! With these travel tips you will stay healthy, arrive feeling good, and avoid getting some disease that is endemic to the place you are visiting. You’ll be ready to have fun and fulfill those longings for wanderlust.

Thanks to Barbara Barzoloski-O’Connor MSN RN CIC in nurse.com

Photo: Pro Profs Quiz Maker

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

My mother and thousands like her remembered and recited this old rhyme to us:

Wash on Monday

Iron on Tuesday

Mend on Wednesday

Market on Thursday

Clean on Friday

Bake on Saturday

Rest on Sunday

She also taught us the song: This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes. And during our childhood, mom followed a schedule not unlike the one above so that we would always have clean clothing that was fresh and dry. It was a time when many moms had ringer washers and not everyone had a dryer. Doing laundry was not only time consuming–it was hard work!

Now that our mothers and grandmothers are aging, they still need clean and fresh laundry. But if you are a caregiver or if you occasionally supervise on laundry day, you’ll want to insure that “doing” the laundry is easy and safe. Working with heavy containers of bleach or detergent or bending over to dig detergent out of box are activities that aging folks should not have to deal with.

Purchasing innovative laundry products like Tide Pods and Gain Flings is the key. These useful and versatile products insure that grandma can do her laundry safely. And the results—they are even better than those she attained with her old products. Tide Pods are easy to use— take one from the convenient canister they come in and add it to the clothing in a front load or top-loading washer. No matter the size of the wash load, water temperature or make of the machine, the laundry will come out clean, bright and stain-free.

Caregivers know that providing a clean and fresh environment for an older person who may be ill is vitally important. Gain Flings are perfect when washing sheets and towels or any laundry that is heavily soiled. The product has a long-lasting scent like Moonlight Breeze, provides a powerful cleaner OxiBoost and when remaking beds and folding towels the odor-fighting power of Febreeze will still be working.

Having clean laundry has been an essential part of life for centuries—whether a stone and a fast-running stream was the method used or the sleek modern machinery of today. And if you are helping grandma with her laundry, she just might have a memory to share. Though I wasn’t doing the work when my mom was hanging out the laundry to dry–here is what I love remembering: the flapping of the sheets and towels as they wrestle with the wind, and the creaking of the laundry poles as they perform their Atlas-job holding up the line, and the intense scent that clings to my brother’s and my skin as we run under the warming linen. Mom always shooed us to the back of the yard. There we would flop down in the brilliant grass and watch as she stretched the wet fabric of the next sheet, working the clothespins onto it with a squeak, the taut line groaning. This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes—

Great memories to share while you are using innovative laundry products that make caregiving and laundry time easy and safe. And remember to keep these products and all cleaning products out of the reach of children.

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

 

Photo: countryliving.com

 

As a member of The bLink Marketing Network, I participated in this sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Proctor & Gamble. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Story of Three Fathers

The Story of Three Fathers

These were neighborhoods that encouraged walking and friendliness.

The Story of Three Fathers

The 99th Street Train Station

This is the story of three fathers in my life and the neighborhood that connected them. It is the story of a typical southside Chicago neighborhood where city blocks of various-styled houses marched along, occasionally interrupted by a cluster of stores–commerce that arose because of the presence of a Rock Island Railroad station at 95th, 99th, 103rd etc.

The neighborhood grew around access to the train and the city north. Sidewalks lined every block, slicing between the lawns of the houses and the lawns of the parkway where elm trees grew and short streetlights supplied only pools of light, because that was all that was needed. These were neighborhoods that encouraged walking and friendliness.

My father lived on the street with the simple name Wood. In the middle of my father’s block, three houses with three very different families lived side-by-side, fruit trees or a driveway marking off property lines. Of course each block had a house on either end—the proverbial corner house that had a certain cache. But if you turned the southern corner and walked past three other houses, you’d come to my father-in-law’s house that sat way back from the sidewalk.

That’s how close these two men’s lives were geographically in the quiet neighborhood of Beverly Hills in Chicago. My father, Albert Pfordresher, was eight years older than Edward Havey, so they never attended either grade or high school together. They did go to the same church. And ironically, after each was married, they lived in those same houses, the ones where they had previously lived with their parents.

But my father died suddenly at the age of 45 when I was just a child, and thus would not be there when I rode my tricycle and then my two-wheeler around the block, past the house where Edward Havey was now living with his growing family—which included his first son, Johnmy future husband.

So you see, this is a story that can be repeated over and over in the lives of many folks in this country, folks living in farm towns or small cities, or living in the suburban areas of huge cities. It’s a story of bumping into people, of knowing them and connecting with them and finally NOT being surprised when the connection becomes deeper, becomes family. It’s a story that echoes with the phrase—it’s a small world. Because then, when I was growing up—it was smaller. People grew up and stayed—like my maternal grandmother who moved from a big Victorian home with her many brothers and sisters to a smaller house—again just blocks away. And lived there for over 65 years—content.

But Readers, you know all about change and far-flung relationships. You know all about the positives and negatives of insular living versus spreading your wings. It’s history, often family history. It’s life. It’s all very fascinating.

In 1931, a news article appeared in the neighborhood newspaper, the Southtown Economist. It was a review of a recent musical that occurred at the local church, St. Barnabus. Albert Pfordresher was the co-producer and Edward Havey took part in the performance. The article also mentioned Bob Singler, whose father was my grandmother’s brother. All families who would be intertwined.

But in 1931, my mother was only fifteen. I guess I wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye at that point in time. But so fascinating to imagine my father putting his hand on Edward Havey’s shoulder and saying,

“Wow, thanks for all that you did to make this performance go so well. It was great. We should get together more often.”

And my father-in-law responding,

“We should. Why you’re just around the corner from me. Maybe we could sit on your porch and talk about life and our futures.”

Imaging and wondering about conversations that could have taken place works for me. After all, I’m thinking about fathers today and want to say thanks to my father. Even though his untimely death took him, he left me with an amazing mother and my two loving brothers. And thanks to my father-in-law, whose courage and strength got him through WWII so he could come home and with my mother-in-law bring my future husband into the world. And thanks to my husband, my best friend, my advocate, my partner in all things.

To quote a writer whose words truly touched me: There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown

Credit: Family photos and www.bapa.org  Part of an ongoing Family History Project

The Story of Three Fathers

I guess this was a day when I was not riding a bike.

 

The Story of Three Fathers

A typical south side street.

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

Once upon a time, a woman stood in the empty nursery of her home. It was a high summer evening and her husband and two daughters were off on a bike ride. She could hear the carefree shouts of the neighbor children coming through the open windows. And she couldn’t stop herself: Andrew, Andrew she found herself calling out, in the vacant nursery, on this evening that trembled with green breezes and slanting sunlight. The name was one chosen for a son even before college, the name that topped the list for boys whenever she was pregnant. She felt a bit crazy to be standing there alone, calling out for a child who didn’t exist. So she got hold of herself and left the nursery. She had a perfect family–why ask for more. And she was almost 40. But the thought kept pumping through her head–you only live once.

Of course the woman was me and the catharsis of that summer night created an even stronger desire to have another child. With some tears, laughter and the dubious argument that our midlife crisis should not be a snappy red convertible but another child, I convinced my husband. Of course being a numbers guy he pointed out the 50% possibility. No problem. We picked out a name for a girl too.

Amazingly I got my wish and less than 2 years later–Andrew was born. I will always feel there was just some nameless force inside of me that propelled us forward. In some ways wanting a child and being blessed with one often happens that way. And this post emphasizes all the positives, though being an RN I schooled myself in the risks of pregnancy over 40 and all that meant–increased chance of miscarriage, fetal anomalies, and infertility problems. A friend and I even wrote a book about it, which we never published. But truly the upside of the decision far outweighed the downside. Look at these current stats, from the National Center for Health Statistics: in American women ages 40 to 44, birthrates have hit their highest point since 1967. Births have also become increasingly common among women in their late 30s. 

Many women today wait to have children because they realize the positive aspects of having a career and thus insuring a strong economic foundation before having a family. And many women like me have forged the pathway for older moms now having babies. We made the decision to not care if when preschool began someone might think the grandmother had showed up and not the mother. The Boomer culture enfolds us and reminds us to fight the grey hair and keep the body trim and flexible. The latter is easily accomplished when you have to chase after a baby!

Our son’s presence in the family welded us all together in a new and exciting way. Yes, there were some adjustments. But very quickly his sisters embraced him and eagerly wanted to babysit, feed and play with him. They both became his godparents and thus our  little BUDDY had it made from the start. My elderly aunt on hearing of my pregnancy exclaimed, “He’ll add 20 years to my life.” Amazingly, he did. Of course his grandmothers were thrilled to experience the first word, the first step of a grandchild all over again. Children just fill you up and pull you into their world.

Because I was an older mom:

  • my son commented that his oldest sister is the luckiest because in the long run she’ll have more time with me. Of course he’s counting on me taking a powder one of these days, but I know what he means. And I’m not sure his sister would agree and I’m just not going to ask her!
  • he says he wouldn’t trade this older mom even if I could run the rapids like Meryl Streep in THE RIVER WILD
  • he taught me about legos and Game Boys, guitar riffs and appreciating music of the 70s 80s and 90s that had passed me by
  • I never minded when: I found guitar pics in the dryer; he changed my screen saver to read: I LOVE ANDREW; we had open talks about sex; he refused to part with any remembrance of his childhood (well, maybe I did a little, but I was flattered that these things meant so much to him and luckily we had the room to house everything)
  • he taught me once again, that amazing experience of family–that we all belong to each other

There is no doubt that his presence in our lives kept me and my husband young. John became a Boy Scout leader and went on campouts complete with raccoons invading his tent. I did a short stint of rappelling during scout camp, rolled down a hill like I was only nine, and numerous times went sledding and hiking. Final report: no broken bones!!

Then the most amazing thing happened. Andrew was taking a tennis lesson and I was sitting in the bleachers listening to the thump, thump of the ball and looking at a magazine. And after I while, I got distracted and was just staring into space. And I heard the name HAVEY. Of course the coach was talking to Andrew, urging him on, saying something like way to go HAVEY. But my skin tingled and my heart increased its rate and I was back on a Chicago park bench with my girlfriends, waiting to hear that word blow across the baseball field or the tennis court. Waiting for the love of my life to show up with his friends.

I’ve been a HAVEY for most of my life now, and when I looked up to see Andrew swinging his racket, that same deep love extended back to him, to my son, to this child of an older mom. Because I know he will inspire my heart and keep me young.

As my fellow bloggers from Grown and Flown wrote in a recent post–Motherhood is a big tent and it matters little if you step inside at 18 or 40, or somewhere in between. What did matter was my desire to grow and change with this child. To open up to new experiences, to adjust to thought patterns and ideas that might never have presented a challenge had my husband and I not taken up the role of parent again. But it’s all good–it’s all amazing. Because we have stayed young, we have  embraced new things– I guess you could say we have thrived under the big tent of parenthood.

To Stay Young, Be an Older Mom

A Mother’s Time Capsule, Short Stories from 1980-2014 www.elizabethahavey.com 

photo: thestir.cafemon.com and John Havey

Women Making News, Making History

Women Making News, Making HistoryOur current social network world puts everyone on the stage of life. Being aware of those around you and what they are up to has been charged with the lightning of involvement. Possibly our ability to comment on or record life and news as it happens contributes to this, but possibly there is just more involvement in society than ever before. People don’t look away. People want connection, have a say, comment, critique. Most of it’s for the good, but sometimes it feels like the train of life is off the track. Do we want our daily lives to be about making news?

Take various episodes of mothers with their children. In a recent article published in Salon, Kim Brooks reports on women who were arrested for child endangerment, cases that as she states: “seemed absurd, an over-the-top parody mashup of modern parenting techniques and the East German Stasi. Then it happened to me.” Like the women she writes about, she left her 4-year-old son in her car while she ran into a store. Someone filmed her and called the police. She was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Brooks writes: “…a charge most people associate with buying beer for teenagers.” To save herself, Brooks did 100 hours of community service and had to take parenting lessons. One hundred hours!

Back in the early nineties, I more than once ran into the post office while my young son stayed in his carseat. I could see him from the postoffice window, but in today’s world someone probably would have tried to have me arrested. To turn the absurdity of this situation on its head, I received a ticket when I hurried to HELP a child. I leapt from my car and ran because I saw a child fall from the top of a slide. I’m a nurse. The policeman appeared from out of nowhere, ticketing me for leaving my car running while I ran to help this kid. When I argued with the policeman at that moment and later at the police station–no go. Pay the fine. Brooks remarks that months later a child was screaming while waiting in a cashier line, the mother having another child in a baby sling. Brooks waited for the photo, the nasty comment–instead a women approached the harried mother asking to help, saying “You’ve got your hands full.” That’s truly the experience I’ve always had–the stranger wanting to help, not interested in having me arrested.

Then there’s the famous Baltimore mother, Toya Graham, who within view of TV cameras slapped her son, pulled him back, kept him from losing his head and making a mistake. This was during the Baltimore riots and protests that occurred after another black man died under arrest. Graham saw her sixteen-year-old son with a rock in her hand, she knew what she had to do–stop him.

“I am a zero-tolerant mother. He knew that, He knew he was in trouble.” Later, Graham admitted that she had lost it, repeatedly slapping the boy; and then wondered what her pastor would think of her. She realized later that her actions were the result of her only thought: if I can just  get my son back in the house as quickly as possible, before something happens that I cannot fix.

In an article in the LA Times, Mary Mcnamara brilliantly compared this situation to a literary one. She recalled the tension-filled scene in To Kill a Mocking Bird, where naive Scout Finch walks into a group of white men whose goal is to break into the jail, get Tom Robinson who has been accused and unjustly found guilty of rape, and take him out and hang him. Atticus Finch stands before the jail to protect Tom, but the men, this mob, will beat him up if necessary to get to Robinson.

Then Scout arrives saying “Hey Mr. Cunningham,” and chatting about the man’s son who goes to school with her. Moments pass. Finally, Cunningham bends down to talk to Scout and as a result he calls off the mob and they gradually drift away.

As a teacher in a school that dealt with a few race riots in the early ’70s–I know that the ability to name a person always pulls them out of the mob, the crowd. They become individuals. Atticus tells Scout later that in that instance she reminded Mr. Cunningham of his  humanity.

Mcnamara ends her piece giving Toya Graham the same praise–by pulling her son from the mob, even if it took a slap! she reminded him of his humanity. And the woman who volunteered to help an overcome mother instead of berating her or taking a film of her momentary inability to cope–again proclaims humanity.

Maybe, when considering the actions of people in public places, we need to pause, to look for clues that might guide our interpretation. Accusing an innocent person of a crime, no matter how large or small, is a heady responsibility. And on the flip side of that coin, we do need to remember to be alert so that the weaker members of our society–like our children–do not experience abuse. It’s a lot to ponder. But we can make history by supporting mothers, asking questions and looking for the humanity in each and every person we encounter.

Women Making News, Making History

Scout and the mob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

drawing: normankoren.com  photo: Macomb Tribune

Want to read more about mothers in various situations? A Mother’s Time Capsule, my recently released book of stories. Thanks for checking it out:  elizabethahavey.com 

 

Dig In or Have Fun

Dig In or Have Fun

I love the word rationalize. Definition: attempt to explain or justify one’s actions with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate. Example: I have a large block of time in which to do something. So I ask myself: should I sit down, dig in and write my blog post and then go down my work list, checking off other writing work? Or, should I escape from that, play and have fun? Because I have a large block of time, I can rationalize that play should be on my agenda.

Today’s definition of play:

  • sand my grandmother’s rocking chair and prepare it for a new stain;
  • repaint the Adirondack chair on the patio;
  • mat a lovely photograph in an old antique frame I’ve saved.

I love writing, but I also love puttering, decorating or as I call it playing with my house. No matter where we have lived, I have always had a file of photos torn from magazines from which to get inspiration and ideas as well as a basket of paint tubes and brushes, art paper and stencils. Sometimes my projects turn out extremely well. I blogged about chalk paint and have used it several times to freshen a furniture find. Sometimes my family notices and comments, sometimes they don’t. But even so, it is my kind of escape.

Dig In or Have Fun

One of my ESCAPE projects.

Thus we could engineer the old phrase VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE and make it work for us. In just about any situation. My explorations into playing with my house not only give my brain time to wander and thus possibly fire up my creativity so that when I get back to the keyboard there is something coming from my fingertips–plus the physical activity involved in painting etc is good for my body.

You might be familiar with recent research that stresses that sitting for long periods of time (at a keyboard, for example) is not good for one’s health. James M. Levine MD, PhD writes that a study was done comparing folks who spent at least two hours sitting in front of any kind of screen, with those who logged in at least four hours away from a screen. Those with more screen time had:

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
  • About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

And even if you were at the keyboard everyday, all day and then worked out a few hours a week at a gym, that didn’t significantly offset the risk. The solution: breaking up those long periods of sitting time by adding periods of standing to your day–maybe while on the phone or eating lunch. Even better would be taking a walk, or at work, inviting a colleague to walk during an informal conference.

Here are some suggestions for keeping your body moving and insuring good health throughout your day:

  • stretch on arising, especially feet, ankles, and neck
  • when on the phone, sit on the edge of a stool or chair and do butt clenches
  • always tummy tuck (tighten abdomen) when doing daily chores or when lifting
  • fight against forward head posture by keeping back straight and watch position of head and neck while at computer or driving in a car etc
  • need to move furniture? use legs, try to push instead of pulling
  • take stairs with loads like laundry to increase aerobic activity and stress bones
  • add walking, running, sports or workouts–when you can and when age-appropriate
  • drink fluids throughout the day
  • women: favorite advice from an RN: at stop lights do Kegels
  • finally at bedtime, stretch to relax and keep muscles flexible.

So maybe in the end, I am not rationalizing by choosing to escape from my real work and go and play with my house. Maybe digging in can really be the fun stuff as well as the more serious stuff we do each day. I have a fire in my belly for writing–my first choice of what I want to do and be. But I also have fire for the second choice–decorating and making my home the best that it can be. And that choice keeps me moving. There are certainly many more ways to pump a variety of activities into daily life. So what do you do to fire up your desire, revitalize and add that needed variety to life’s choices??  What do you do to dig in and have fun? Please share. Maybe Calvin and Hobbes can say it better than I can. Dig In or Have Fun

P.S. Have you checked out my first publication: A Mother’s Time Capsule–Stories about Motherhood. Easy reading, one story a night. Maybe add a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine. Enjoy!

Announcing: A MOTHER'S TIME CAPSULE

NOW IN SOFT COVER AT AMAZON.

 

Plus

Dig In or Have Fun

 

 

 

 

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis and thewinecenter.com

 

How I Dealt With Fears of Kidnapping

How I Dealt With Fears of Kidnapping

The Pied Piper

In my recently published book A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE, one of the themes that I work with is that of losing a child—to accident, death, but also to kidnapping, abduction—your child goes missing. And a week ago, in a piece published on the Huffington Post, I wrote openly of such a fear: …in 1983, when my daughters were nine and five, ten-year-old Jeanine Nacarico was kidnapped from her home in Naperville, Illinois. Though the kidnapping was in another Chicago suburb, it was something unconscionable that could happen: Jeanine home alone sick, her mother checking on her, and then a man breaks in, takes her, rapes and murders her. Days later her body is found. I couldn’t get a grip. I read newspapers for answers—the mother did something careless? Absolutely not. The horrific event made me realize again: these things actually happen…

There is no soft landing when a child is taken. Within days, the Nacaricos knew the unspeakable fate of their daughter. But then again, there is Etan Patz. Thirty-six years ago, May 25th, 1979, Etan disappeared while walking to his school bus in the Soho district of New York City. He was never found. Recently, a hung jury was unable to convict the man who claims he strangled Etan and dumped his body in a trash bin.

News such as this grabs mothers. Because after Etan, there was Adam Walsh, taken and murdered in July 1981 and two Des Moines Register paperboys: Johnny Gosch taken in 1982 and Eugene Martin, taken in 1984—never found. There was also a string of child and adolescent murders in Atlanta. Then in 1983, President Reagan declared May 25, the day of Patz’s disappearance, National Missing Children’s Day. And in 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was formed.

A curtain of fear descended. A wall went up between naïve security and scary reality. As a young mother, the climate of fear came into my mailbox as periodically, along with catalogues and Better Homes and Gardens, the Advo flier appeared, listing the current MISSING child and a grainy black and white photo. What did I do about all of this? In my Huffington Post piece, I describe in detail what my husband and I did to raise our three as safely as we could. You can read it here.

But the other thing I did, was take that fear, that feeling of being paralyzed, and try to deal with it through my fiction. The three stories mentioned below are all in TIME CAPSULE. 

In SONG FOR HER MOTHER, I worked beyond the finding—trying to discover some form of healing and forgiveness to bind up the wound of the forever separation and the unknowing.

Ana wondered if there wasn’t a place where all missing people gathered. A place deep in a wood where the trees arched overhead to form a cathedral-like space, and underneath, a pocket of peace, a place shot through with golden light. The missing found each other there. And while they spoke and learned each other’s history, more kept coming. They held out their arms to new arrivals. And they wept on each other’s shoulders or picked up the children and held them and wept again. And after a time they settled into a life of waiting in stillness and quiet, until the pattern of the trees and branches against the light above them became so intense and all-consuming that their memories of those they had lost melted away.

In THAW, I made myself work directly with the Nacarico case, of course changing names and ages, but always working through my own inner terror.

Maddy once said that it helps to think that Jessy is two years older now. She’s not eight, she’s ten and she understands what happened to her and the terror of it has subsided. Karen decided a year ago, though she never brought it up with Maddy, she never wants to ever bring it up, that Jessy was unconscious almost immediately; they beat her and raped her and she didn’t know anything. Karen had decided.

I also wrote a story entitled ANGEL HAIR, which though it’s a story about children going missing—the blame lies not with the abductor, but with the falsehoods, the cheating, the penchant for war and blame and fighting that still riddles our societies. Using the old story of the Pied Piper worked well: a well-meaning person is accused or taken advantage of and in retribution he or she uses the children as collateral.

But then in one of Jeff’s runs down the lawn, she heard sounds, the soothing notes of a high piped birdcall, or the humming of bees wings, and she smelled the pungent fragrance of shorn grass or scattered rose petals and saw the flash of a yellow/red cloak engulfing the sunlight for a split-second to reveal a shadowy opening in the hedge at the end of the lawn. Then in a blinding light there was Jeff, that was all she could see, the strands of his hair and then his entire head, and his entire body becoming golden and brilliant.

And maybe this last story is closest to truths we need to look at. We should teach our children to be aware of strangers, but we should not live their lives for them and we can better insure their futures by working to improve society—all aspects of it.

Fact: many of today’s parents tend to be over-protective—yes there are reasons for that, but society has jumped on the bandwagon, like charging a mother with neglect because she allowed her two children under ten to walk home from a park. Let’s not go crazy.

In a recent article, Meghan Daum gives us some stats: An oft-cited figure when it comes to missing children is that 800,000 are reported each year. What that number belies, however, is that the definition of “missing child” includes runaways and children abducted by a parent. Research from the Department of Justice puts “stereotypical” kidnappings at just over 100 per year — an unsettling number but hardly a national scourge.

Daum wants mothers to not sweat the small stuff in the face of the horror of kidnapping and disappearance. We can entitle our children to safety, but we must also get them out the door into their own lives where responsibility and initiative creates a full human person. In other words, we don’t want them to be entitled to life.

In a recent talk with a college professor, the extreme of entitlement presented itself. He told me that some students now verbally assault a teacher if they don’t get the A they think they deserve. And then if the complaint doesn’t cause a grade change, which it won’t, the student takes revenge and writes up a poor teacher eval.

Daum ends her piece with some thought-provoking words: Statistics (see above) are important to remember as we are, once again, being instructed to be scared for the nation’s children. This time, the boogeyman isn’t a mostly nonexistent marauder who strikes when parents aren’t looking. It’s the ever-lurking, overbearing parents themselves.

Strong words. What do you think? How do you handle the fears you have for your children and grandchildren? What societal changes would better protect our children, yet give them the tools to be independent?  As for me, I continue to mine the theme of MISSING in a novel I hope to publish next year.

Thanks to Eyeofthesoul Mixed Media On: monIster

 

I’m Not a Scientist. Oh Yes You Are!

I'm Not a Scientist. Oh Yes You Are!

 

I’m not a scientist. Actually in some ways I am. I went to nursing school and for three years I read nothing but science related to disease, the anatomy of the body, the physiology of the body, how bacteria and viruses live among us. But those are blatant examples. Anyone who operates a piece of machinery whether utilizing electricity or wireless is working with science. Definition: the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the host of the new television show STAR TALK and an astrophysicist states: “Pop culture at face value views science as this other thing. Until you realize that science is everywhere, it affects everything that you do, it affects how you communicate, it affects your health, it affects your future, it affects your wealth. And StarTalk is an exercise in highlighting for the public what role science actually plays in the survival of a society.”

Tyson has guests on his show, some truly involved in the practice of science like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but others like Jimmy Carter and Arianna Huffington who find connections with science in their daily lives and acknowledge the importance of those connections. Talk can be about current culture—which is really the point—science is part of our lives. Tyson says: “I think it’s a first rise, a science appetite being revealed in the hearts and minds of the public. And among the various points of evidence we point to is the wholly and unpredicted success of the TV sitcom the Big Bang Theory. …if you had been a network executive and someone walked up and said ‘I have an idea—let’s have five scientists and an engineer and they’re all friends and they talk about their job, speak science fluently and half the time you will not explain what it is they’re saying’—that’d be a great show, wouldn’t it—you’d be out on the street five minutes later.”

But The Big Bang Theory is in its 8th season: five characters living in Pasadena , California, two physicists who share an apartment; a waitress and aspiring actress who later becomes a pharmaceutical representative, a geeky and socially awkward aerospace engineer and an astrophysicist like Tyson.

The point that Tyson is making and that the popularity of the television show reveals, is that we are all ready for new knowledge and for expanding on the basics of knowledge that we already have. Children ask the question WHY and when you provide an answer, they often immediately say WHY? The chain of questions reveals that we all want to make connections between our experience and an understanding of that experience. Kids love science–they love learning how things work and WHY they work the way they do. The age of technology can baffle us now and again, but it’s exciting that answers are out there–research is available to us, we don’t have to live in ignorance. As kids often say–science is cool. Yes it is.

Tyson enjoys linking science to comedy. “…interest (in science) has been undercapitalized because we somehow as a culture don’t think that science is fun or entertaining or a source of comedy. There’s a bias. And I think the universe is a hilarious place.”

He goes on to describe what would happen to a person if he fell into a black hole. “You get stretched and ripped apart–it’s not so much hilarious as entertaining. If I had to pick one way to die, that’s how I’d want to go. It’s far more interesting than getting hit by a bus.”

Maybe Tyson glibly says this to be somewhat outrageous and because there is little fear that this can happen to him. But he certainly approaches such information with wit and irony. Science is intellectually cool.

A recent major article in TIME Magazine, called THE IDEA FACTORY, (no link available) reflects how the man and woman in the street are using science to power their careers and to embolden their bank accounts. All sorts of inventions are listed: a baby-formula dispenser, a power strip that bends, an LED bulb that can be controlled with an app and many more.

Science rises up in all of us when we get sick and want to be well–fast. We can read and inform ourselves. It wasn’t always this way. The availability of information on the internet and just the openness of desiring to understand and accept change can move us forward as a planet, as a people.

In that process it’s better to say, though I don’t have a degree in science, I can educate myself, I can read and discover. I can become science-informed. There are no excuses.

We need to honor and love our planet. If the mention of climate change is presented–better to read and get informed than to say I’m not a scientist! Because you are–do you accept gravity? Would you take your sick child to the doctor or wave incense over them? Would you insist on walking everywhere or accept airplanes, cars and whatever!

We are all living with the benefits of science and that assumes that we believe in it–we accept it.

Tyson follows Carl Sagan, his mentor from the age of seventeen. The words below are Sagan’s and they underline the importance of our accepting science and helping our planet.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering…every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. …The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. ..

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

I'm Not a Scientist. Oh Yes You Are!

Sagan’s pale blue dot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Little Red Elf, Flickr, and Wallpaperswide.com

P.S. My collection of stories, A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE, available in many stores and formats at www.elizabethahavey.com

 

Everlasting Gifts from My Children

Everlasting Gifts from My Children

Mom, Carrie and Christie

Everlasting Gifts from My Children

Andrew and Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before: In 2007 my husband and I are new empty nesters. 

We live in an empty nest, a hollow house devoid of children. Once we were capacious with four bedrooms, now we are lousy with them. But are my husband and I lonely? No, not really. Our schedules are more varied and that’s fun. We eat out on a whim. We can cancel an entire Saturday if we want to—read, watch films, hide away. But it’s truly amazing when the house fills up again with warm, human bodies who lug laundry in with them, run the shower constantly, and scatter various exotic foods and drinks around the kitchen. I mean at some level don’t we all miss that?

After: Now we are seasoned Empty Nesters

We have downsized from the four-bedroom house and moved to a townhouse in California. The HOA hires a gardener, but I should have brought more gardening tools for my back patio—and about once a week I ask myself, why did you give that away? But overall downsizing is good. When you have fewer things, they take on more meaning. Like life itself, things are more precious when we prize them and avoid squandering.

We boomers are aging, our children are aging—and yet we eternally have these strong bonds and life experiences that weld us together. They remain, regardless of the change consuming us; and yes, we must adjust to change, embrace it and move on. Below are the things we treasure most.

EVERLASTING GIFTS FROM MY CHILDREN 

1. First words, smiles, and offerings–a dandelion, a heart made from clay, a card filled with words of love and the greeting I LOVE YOU MAMA, handmade ornaments which will be kept forever, a self-portrait, a fund-raising presentation,  a parade of stuffed animals, a series of original songs–words of love.

2. Stellar report cards, high school honors and awards, college degrees, grad school scholarships. Falling in love with amazing people. 

3. A phone call when I needed it. Knowing I belong. A shared photo of a trip, a graduate project, a grandchild, a published article, a published book, an original song with an amazing guitar riff. Phone calls!!

4. And most importantly–and all three of them possess these traits–persons full of kindness, eager to help others, possessing tolerance, joyful when you experience music, art, dance, literature.

Thus, the house, this nest, is NEVER empty, because is glows with the memories of us all being together. It carries within it the beating heart of love that makes a family. And when it does fill up with your physical presence, the walls sing and the windows let in more than the usual amount of light.

Thanks for your everlasting gifts! Mom 

Everlasting Gifts from My Children

My mom, the greatest giver of them all with C and C.

Thanks to John for the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE

Susie Darrow wrote: I immediately bought your book through Amazon and have read about 1/2 of it so far. It is wonderful. I found some character trait or emotion that I could identify with in each story.Thanks.

 

Announcing: A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE

Announcing: A MOTHER'S TIME CAPSULE

NOW IN SOFT COVER AT AMAZON.

Mother. Writer. Those are two of the titles that I have proudly claimed for a long time. But today I have something to show for those two titles—A Mother’s Time Capsule—my first published book. It’s fiction, a collection of stories that grew from being a mother, but more importantly from being a writer. Because writers can be alchemists. We absorb life experience and then, with hope in our hearts, we work to create gold—something meaningful that honors the human interactions that we have witnessed or experienced. Writers also read and read some more, and listen–eager to hear the stories of people’s lives, their joy and their pain. Over time my stories accumulated and some of them made it into small magazines. But when I began to really look at them, I saw that they all dealt with some aspect of motherhood. My book was born.

A Mother’s Time Capsule takes you on a time-travel journey, some stories pulling you back in time, others taking you to a present and immediate place. Though the experience of pregnancy, birth, raising children and the empty nest has commonalities, there are many more variables. In these stories, mothers are married, divorced, aging, young, facing their fears and blinded to them. You’ll meet their children who struggle with responsibility, know the pain of an absent father, ruin the one opportunity to bond with an absent mother, go missing, attempt suicide and teach their parents that being fearful is not the way to live one’s life. There are mothers whose lives are welded to helping their children, and mothers who must settle for only the memory of a child.

The book is dedicated to my husband and three children who are the children of my dreams and of my life. But know, these stories are not pure autobiography—instead they are tangential to what I have experienced as a mother to my children and the daughter of my mother.

Last week I wrote about how Boomer Highway came to be. Now I want to thank you for the opportunity to share more of my journey from writer’s desk to the publication of my first book. I hope you enjoy A Mother’s Time Capsule and I welcome comments about the stories on here and on TwitterFacebook, Goodreads and Amazon. I have also created a board on Pinterest with an illustration for each of the stories. You can find it here.

A Mother’s Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey ebook available now and soft cover will be available soon. Check : www.elizabethahavey.com  You might want to share it with the mother in your life this Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015.

Events: On Facebook, I will be chatting about CAPSULE with Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) on Tuesday, May 5th at from 1:00to 1:30 eastern time. Here’s the link

And Thursday, May 7th, on Twitter, I will be talking with Sezoni Whitfield on Writer’s Kaboodle. That’s from 1:00 to 1:30 eastern time. https://twitter.com/SezoniWhitfield

Below are a few examples from the 13 stories in the collection:

FRAGILE: It’s a given that mothers worry about their children. But can a wife and mother who worries too much shape her own reality? And how would that affect the father who is almost a stranger to such concerns? In the story, a couple takes their young daughters, eight and four, on a camping trip and an accident occurs. My husband and I had two daughters those ages. I certainly had fears, and he was often traveling. As I wrote the story, my fears came onto the page and I worked through them, actually learning from my children.

MAKING CHANGE: Motherhood totally changes the direction of a woman’s life, filling up the days and determining choices. The empty-nest years can offer shining promise, but they sometimes bring confusion, health challenges and regrets. Whether a woman has many children or just one, there will come a time when that child takes on an individual life and the mother’s trajectory changes. Even if a full-time job filled the mother’s life, the empty-nest years can bring about challenge.

WHEN DID MY MOTHER DIE? We all know a mother, our own, and even if during our lifetime we never have children—as our mothers age the role will reverse, and like it or not, we will know many aspects of motherhood. This is my most recent story, written after my mother died in 2013. It reflects the anguish and confusion of loving someone so intensely that when they develop dementia and their lives are narrowed down to sitting in a wheelchair, you can hardly bear it. But you have to.

Thanks to FOREVERLAND PRESS.