2019 KCT INT’L LITERARY AWARDS CONTEST GRAND PRIZE WINNER, “SO, YOU’RE RAISING YOUR GRANDKIDS!” by RWISA AUTHOR, HARRIET HODGSON #RRBC #RWISA

If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, help has arrived.

According to the US Census Bureau, more than 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids, and the number is going up. You may be one of the millions of these grandparents and it’s a role you never expected. Willing as you are to assume this role, you have some questions. How will I find the energy for this? Is my grandchild normal? What if I “blow it?” Each day, you look for ways to make life easier.

This book will:

•Help ease your worries and guilt;
•Offer tips for creating a grandfamily;
•Give methods for improving grandparent-grandchild communication;
•Suggest ideas for how you can connect with your grandchild’s school;
•Provide child development information;
•Recommend approaches to help your grandchild set goals;
•Stress the importance of having fun together;
•Offer ideas of how to foster your grandchild’s hopes and dreams.

So, You’re Raising Your Grandkids blends Harriet Hodgson’s wise and moving grandparenting story with recent research and findings. It shares her 21 years of caregiving experience, including seven years of raising her twin grandkids. Each chapter ends with What Works, proven tips for grandparents raising grandkids.

At the end, you’ll cheer for all the loving grandparents—including you—who are putting grandchildren first.

Rochester, Minnesota resident Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for 38 years, is the author of thousands of articles, and 36 books. She has a BS from Wheelock College in Boston, an MA from the University of Minnesota, and additional graduate training.

Hodgson is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). She is a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation, The Grief Toolbox, and The Caregiver Space websites. Visit www.thecaregiverspace.org/authors/hhodgson to read her articles.

Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 talk radio shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of television stations, including CNN, and dozens of blog talk radio programs. A popular guest, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, bereavement, and caregiving conferences. 

Her recent work is based on Hodgson’s 21 years as a family caregiver. She was her mother’s family caregiver for nine years, her twin grandchildren’s guardian and caregiver for seven years, and is in her fifth year as her disabled husband’s caregiver.  Visit Harriet’s RRBC Author Page to find out more about this busy wife, grandmother, caregiver, and author, as well as more information on her many other books listed in the RRBC catalog.

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour, DAY 10, AUTHOR MAURA BETH BRENNAN #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

AUTHOR MAURA BETH BRENNAN

MEMORIES OF MOM

I miss my Mom’s quirks. Her superstitions, for instance.

“Don’t you dare put your shoes on that table,” she would say. She wasn’t talking about putting shoe-clad feet on the coffee table. She didn’t want anyone putting a shoebox containing new shoes on a table—any table. Such an action could have dire consequences. That box must be placed on the floor. Period.

No one in our house would have dared leave a wet umbrella open to dry inside the house. That would have, according to Mom, invited disaster. And if you left the house by the front door, you had better return that way. If not, who knew what tragedy might befall you? 

Now, when I walk my dog through the woods and take a shortcut home, I double around the house to reenter through the same door. I can still hear her voice, warning me. I leave that dripping umbrella on the porch. I place that shoebox on the floor. Because my mother—she’s a deep, tenacious part of me. 

I miss so many things about her—her funny remarks, her kindnesses, her soft voice. I say things to my daughter and think, there is my mother talking. She blurted the funniest things sometimes, and Dad, my brothers, and I sometimes teased her about it. One source of our amusement was her habit of mixing up common clichés. “Sit down, let’s chew the breeze,” my mom would say. Or, “It’s six of one, a dozen of the other.” When we’d laugh, she’d look confused until she realized what she had said. Then, she’d laugh along. She was the inspiration for the mother in two of my short stories, where the mother’s sayings always came out wrong.

I miss having Mom to lean on. One difficult year, I had to take a leave of absence from work. A new house, a demanding job, a young daughter, night school to earn a degree—it was suddenly all too much for me, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying. One morning, as I sat feeling sorry for myself, I heard a knock at my door. There was Mom, smiling, bearing homemade muffins for us to share. She settled me at the kitchen table. “Now, don’t you cry anymore,” she said. “It will all work out.” She made me a cup of tea and brought it to me. “This is nice,” she said. “Isn’t it? Just us girls.” 

What I would give to have a cup of tea with her now. To let her know how much that meant to me.

Mom was a shy and quiet woman, but she had courage and a steely spine when it came to her family. Her courage showed when, during World War II, she packed a suitcase and took her baby daughter (me) three-thousand miles across the country, by train and bus, to be with my father while he was stationed on the west coast. She stayed there, making a home for us until the war was over.

She showed that courage when she won her first battle with cancer. She never told either of my recently married brothers how ill she was, not wanting to worry them. She told them she had “a little procedure.” When her health returned, it was as if it never happened. She never spoke of it. 

But cancer struck again, a different one this time, more deadly. 

And this is the memory that breaks my heart. She was in the hospital after exploratory surgery and a terrible prognosis. I went to visit, pulling my chair close to her bed to hear her quiet voice. Her eyes stretched wide and she grasped my hand in hers.  

“I’m so scared,” she said. 

She died nine months later. That January, the doctors had “given” her three months to live. But she was determined to live until her fortieth wedding anniversary on September 20th

The afternoon she died, my father, my brothers and I were gathered around her bedside. She asked my father, “Bud, is today our anniversary?” She was suffering and my father couldn’t bear to watch it go on. It was September 19th, a day too early. 

He pulled her close and embraced her for the last time. He knew what he had to do.

“Yes, sweetheart,” he said. “It is.”

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 9, AUTHOR HEATHER KINDT #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

AUTHOR HEATHER KINDT

LOSING MOM

Have you ever lost someone? The pain is unimaginable, ripping through you like an express train. But what if you lost that person again and again? The agony of the loss knocks you off your feet until you’re numb. That’s what it’s like when you lose someone to dementia.

My mom was my best friend.

She was my shoulder to cry on, and I told her everything. On summer mornings, she’d lie in bed thinking, so I’d hop in next to her and we’d talk about everything or nothing at all. She was there to hold me when I lost my first love and to celebrate with me when I found my last. We spent an entire summer planning my wedding and finding ways to keep the costs within my measly teacher salary. Rummaging through bargain bins at the Christmas Tree Shop, we found the perfect, gold-trimmed ribbon to don the pews at the church. 

After I was married, I moved to Colorado and being two thousand miles apart put a dent in both of our souls. But, she was there when my babies were born, helping me figure out the tasks of new mother for the few weeks she was able to be away from home. She was always there, even if it had to be over the telephone wires.

Until she wasn’t.

It started off slowly—spoiled milk in the refrigerator, aluminum foil in the microwave, and accusing my uncle of leaving tiny, recording devices under her couch. She’s getting forgetful with age…paranoid. That’s what I told myself.

But then things weren’t so small. When my mom and dad finally moved to Colorado, she and my brother took separate cars to church one night. Matt followed my mom back to their house but instead of turning down their road, my mom went straight. I received the phone call from Matt frantic, explaining the situation.

“Why didn’t you follow her?” I thought it was a reasonable question.

“I don’t know?” 

I lived an hour and a half away, and it was eight o’clock at night. Pulling on my coat, I waited by the phone. There was no way I’d be able to find my mom in a city at night, though I’d search all night if I had to. Before leaving out the door, I called Matt one last time. Why wasn’t he searching?

A pair of headlights turned up our driveway. Impossible. We lived in a housing development in the country littered with dirt roads and deer. I rushed down the stairs to greet my mother. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her whole body shook as she melted into my arms. 

“He left me,” she sobbed. “I found a road that I recognized that went to your house, and I kept going.”

I wrapped her in a blanket and lay next to her on the bed in the spare room, her body heaving as she fell asleep.

As time went on, the incidents became more frequent. My parents moved back to New Hampshire because Dad couldn’t handle the altitude. My sister insisted they live in a retirement community. My mom didn’t like the price tag, so six months later she found an apartment in the town I grew up in. I was their telephone caregiver, calling every day on my way to work. 

That summer when we visited, it was becoming more and more apparent that Mom couldn’t care for Dad, who was eighteen years her senior. He fell a couple of times, and she called the ambulance because she couldn’t lift him. Being there, I learned it was because he was malnourished and dehydrated. A local independent living facility provided them with at least two meals a day, and they could make friends. It worked for a while. Mom accused the maids of stealing her things, but it was her paranoia setting in again.

But then Dad got sick.

My mom insisted on coming to live with us. It was always how I imagined things would be. When Dad passed away, Mom would come live with us and help me with my children. But Dad wasn’t gone yet. 

She insisted.

We moved her out to Colorado, and she lived with us. Frequent plane trips to New Hampshire drained my bank account. She missed him and in less than a year she wanted to move back. Things were different now. We hid her car keys, we arranged for her to go to a local senior center while we were at work, and she became severely combative. 

For three years, my mother lived with us as I lost her day after day. At times, it felt like she ripped my heart out and stomped on it. I lashed out at her in my own frustration one day when she helped me clean out a closet. I missed our conversations, our comradeship and the love we’d always shared. It was as if someone reached down to Earth, snatched my mother and replaced her with a stranger. After three years, my husband and I made the decision to place her in a nursing home on a memory care unit. 

I lost her again. 

It was the most difficult thing I’ve done in my entire life, but I had to do it for her safety. Mom would get angry with me for no reason at all and storm out of the house. My husband followed her in the car until he could coax her inside. Her leaving also saved our marriage. The strain and stress it put on us those three years isn’t something I would want anyone to go through. 

Have you ever lost someone? I lose my mom everyday, but it’s not as painful now. When you lose someone to dementia, at least for me, it’s like you’re going through the pain of losing someone suddenly again and again over many years. At some point, the pain numbs because it has to, or the stress will eat you alive. I love my mother, but the disease has stolen precious years of her life. It’s in the small glimmers of her spirit—a smile, an mischievous eye aimed at my husband, a hug from recognition—that I find hope that someday we can be together fully again.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card,please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 8, AUTHOR YVETTE CALLEIRO #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

AUTHOR YVETTE CALLEIRO

Sights

What if,

In our hustle and bustle,

In our go go go,

We made it a point

To slow down and meditate –

Tune in to the now,

The beauty of each moment?

If only we had slowed our lives down

To enjoy the present moment,

We’d have less people living with anxiety,

Fewer suicides and more survivors,

More productivity in our workplace

With fewer hours at the job.

What if we chose 

To care about the foods we eat,

To focus on nutrients from our earth

Without pesticides or genetic modifications?

If only we had stayed away

From GMO-products and processed foods,

We’d have fewer loved ones suffering

From obesity and digestive issues

And autoimmune disorders.

What if we cared

About our fellow man and woman and child

Enough to help them find shelter

And food

And employment?

If only we had cared more about

The community as one

Instead of individualism,

We would have risen up

To find solutions for homelessness,

To help rehabilitate the hopelessness

And leave no human hungry.

What if mothers and fathers

Could spend quality time with their children,

Laughing and playing,

Nurturing and comforting,

Molding them into loving human beings?

If only we had valued the family unit,

There would be fewer broken families,

Children would grow into

Caring and confident adults,

Valuing love and laughter.

What if we chose

To heal the mind, body, and spirit

As one,

With natural remedies,

Focused on healing and curing

Instead of masking and prolonging?

If only we had focused on healing

Instead of profiting on illness,

Our immune systems would be strong,

Able to fight harder against viruses and diseases,

Our minds would be calm and serene,

Our spirit would be at peace and

In harmony with the world.

What if we cared about our planet,

Sharing the earth with

Its other living inhabitants,

Making small sacrifices

So our planet can grow and prosper

Alongside us?

If only we had not been so selfish in our ways

And had made the necessary changes

To allow our planet to heal,

Our forests would flourish

And shelter our animals, 

Our oceans would provide life and enjoyment,

And our air would be clear and breathable.

What if we changed our ways?

If only we could do something

To stop this downward spiral of catastrophes

That we have created.

We can.

We should.

We must.

When RWISA asked its members to consider the new world we are now living in, they wanted us to consider what we would have done differently to better the situation we are currently in. This led me to think about foresight and hindsight. We all have the ability to pause and wonder what the world could be if we choose to make the hard choices and work toward a better world. Similarly, once the catastrophe has happened, we can look back and realize what we did wrong.

So, I created this poem. Choose to read it line by line or read the left side in its entirety and then go back and read the right side. Either way works! 😊

So often, our leaders look back and say, “Oops!” and then just keep trudging along without righting their wrongs. We, as citizens, do the same. We have become quite comfortable in our spoiled lives. We, as a society, focus on individualism instead of community. We live in a bubble that is only concerned with how enjoyable our own little world is, forgetting that we do not live in isolation. We ignore the pleas of others to help the planet/hungry/homeless/poor because that would mean putting effort or perhaps making sacrifices, and who wants to give up the luxuries that they have become accustomed to?

And so it goes. Our current path is not sustainable. If we are to survive and thrive, we must put the planet and allwho encompass it as our priority. We need to make changes/sacrifices to flourish. Just look at what the past month or two of stay-at-home orders has done for our planet. Endangered turtles are being born and survivingThe peaks of the Himalayan mountains can be seen in India for the first time in decades. Pollution levels have shown a decrease in nitrogen dioxide over ChinaThe waterways in Venice are crystal-clear and fish can be seen swimming in the canals. The signs are everywhere.

Can anyone still doubt that humans and our ways have hurt our environment and will continue to hurt our planet unless we make serious changes to our ways of life? How many businesses are realizing that their workers can actually do their jobs from home? That one change can cut back on car emissions, stress, and other pollutions. I don’t have all the solutions, but maybe it’s time that we, as a society, start to use our foresight to change our world for the better.

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 6, AUTHOR JOY NWOSU LO-BAMIJOKO #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

AUTHOR JOY NWOSU LO-BAMIJOKO

WATCH AND PRAY

Indeed, these are difficult times. A time for soul-searching. A time to take notice of just how fragile we humans are, and, a time to look to God for solutions. 

There is a plague ravaging the whole world, and what are we doing? We are running helter-skelter, trying one remedy after another by trial and error. Each day we are thrown deeper into a pile of confusion with all the false and misleading information we are being given. And still, there is no solution in sight.

We are a people who have built huge cities, shuttled to the Moon, and created structures mightier than our imaginations.  We have accomplished so much greatness, that now we have begun to believe that we are gods – that we have all the answers and solutions to everything. The human looks around and sees the great things God has given him … the knowledge and skills to achieve, and now, he believes he can challenge God. Because of these reckless beliefs, man goes into laboratories to play God – looking for ways to surpass God’s greatness. 

The result is what we are experiencing today. God created order; man creates dis-order. God sits and watches us, like He did with us during the time of the Tower of Babel, with man trying to prove that we are gods. With His little finger, He muddled the waters to show us that only He is God, and He is the only one in control. Now, we have gone ahead and messed up the order of things again, and He continues to watch us. What amusement it must be for Him to see us wreaking havoc in the world, and then trying to clean it up without much success.  

I don’t believe that God will allow the whole human race to perish because of this. Those who believe in Him are praying, and those who do not, are still clueless. Eventually, God will relent, and again, with His little finger, redirect things in His own good time. He will inspire a human to come up with a solution to end the pandemic; a human who will probably take the credit for doing so. It will not matter at all. God knows His creatures more than we know ourselves. He will understand. Those who know the ways of God will thank Him for the end of the pandemic because they will be able to see the hand of God at work in it.

Will the end of this pandemic stop the non-believers from trying to one-up God?  Never! That is not the nature of the evil one. He never stops trying to prove to his followers that he is more powerful than God – that whatever God can do, he can do better. 

All I know and pray for is that whoever inflicted this pandemic on the world is going to be in great trouble at the end of it all. They will pay! This will come back to haunt them, person per person, death per death, economy per economy, for all they have done. So, help me God!

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck! 

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 5, AUTHOR P.T.L. PERRIN #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

Author P. T. L. Perrin

WHEN THE WORLD WAS FORCED TO A STOP 

…it immediately created a toilet paper shortage. No restrictions had yet been put into place the day I went shopping at Walmart. As always, the items I needed were available. I loaded my cart and headed for the paper aisle. Wait! What the heck happened? A single pack of toilet paper sat on the otherwise empty shelves, left there, most likely, because of a tear in the packaging. I grabbed it. The paper wouldn’t spoil because the package was ripped. 

Two women, one elderly and one a younger version of her, stopped in shock, just like I did. I couldn’t help myself. Tears filled the older woman’s eyes, and I had to do something. I handed her daughter the pack, fully expecting to find one somewhere else. Besides, we were okay for a while. How could Walmart, of all places, be out of TOILET PAPER? And why THAT item and no others? 

In the coming weeks, when nary a roll was to be found anywhere, I fantasized about the hoarders having to eat it. Roasted TP. Grilled TP. TP Soup. TP pie. I hoped they choked; until I realized that some of them might be families with kids, and they’d be up the creek without a paddle if they hadn’t bought it all up that first week. I began to wish them well and decided to order some online. The next available delivery date was sometime in June, in two months, but it wasn’t guaranteed. A friend suggested I search Amazon for a bidet.

Having lived in Italy in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, I was familiar with bidets, simple low basins separate from the toilet with shower nozzles that sprayed upward. Back then, they were a place to float toy boats, complete with a fountain in the middle. I did not know their true purpose until I was much older and no longer living there. We had plenty of toilet paper back then.

The bidets I found online ranged from a hand-held sprayer, which can double as a cloth diaper cleaner (for those with babies who still use cloth diapers), to a seat attachment that requires no aiming. It appears that the sprayer might take some practice in order to avoid a wet bathroom. But then, if you turn on the no-aiming-required spray without your rear end covering the inside opening of the toilet seat, you could give your ceiling a wash. At least you could with the Italian ones. Amazingly, the guaranteed delivery date was in three days. I clicked the button, quite satisfied with myself. 

Neighbors drive to a local farm, where a box of fresh veggies is placed in their trunk, and they drop some off at our front porch. Other neighbors are busy sewing facemasks for a local nursing home. I gave them some colorful fabric and a treasure trove of elastic left over from my long-ago sewing days. Kids ride their bikes in the quiet streets, six feet apart from each other most of the time. Couples walk holding hands (come on…they live together!) and greet other walkers, keeping their distance and using their ‘outside’ voices. Everyone asks everyone else, “How are you doing? Need anything?” 

The air smells fresher, the office is gradually getting cleaned out, and my tennis-pro husband burns off energy doing yard work and cutting the hedge shorter and shorter. By the time this is over, it’ll be six inches tall. We’re finally using up the canned goods in the pantry, at least those whose expiration dates are newer than July 2015. 

The worst part of this for most people is the loss of jobs and income, although we’re all hoping it’s temporary. We hope to scrounge enough to pay the mortgage for the next couple months, until the tennis courts open and people take lessons again. Younger people with families at home are worried, including our children with their families. Some can work from home, others cannot. 

The systems that should facilitate what the government has done to ease the burden are broken and scrambling to find fixes. When this happens again, hopefully in the far distant future, they should be prepared, and the process should run smoother. The same goes for medical supplies and personal protection equipment. There were no stockpiles when this virus shut us down. After this, there will be.

We pray for the sick, that they will recover, and for those who’ve lost loved ones. We pray for those who are feeling the pain of lost income, especially those with young children. We pray for the teachers who have poured themselves into making lessons their students can do from home, and we pray for the parents of those students. We pray for the homeless and the prisoners who have little choice in anything. We pray for Bill’s mom in a nursing home, and for all those who live and work there. We pray for doctors, nurses, hospital staff, first responders…everyone helping others though this. 

We were both sick in January, and so were some of our kids and grandkids. Could it have been this virus, this invisible scourge, that made us miserable for a while and then left us to recover? Perhaps. Perhaps many people have had it unknowingly and are now immune, with antibodies that can help someone who is seriously ill to recover. In time, we may all be tested, and then we’ll know for sure. 

For now, we practice social distancing. We stay home and catch up on things we’d been meaning to do for the last twenty years, and thank the good Lord we have a home to shelter in. We follow the rules, not to protect ourselves, but to protect the people around us, known and not known, just in case. We are witnessing the spirit of the people who live here, who, when faced with calamity, reach out and help their neighbors. We have never been prouder to be Americans than we are right now. 

The bidet arrived right on time. It looks nice in its box, which will remain closed until we run out of toilet paper, an unlikely issue with our kids and neighbors watching out for us. Neighbors, if you run out, we have some to share. I want to try that bidet. 

Now about those toilet paper hoarders…

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!  

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 4, AUTHOR ROBERT FEAR

ROBERT FEAR

MOTIVATING OTHERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

If anyone had told me at the start of the year what was going to happen in 2020, I would have thought they were crazy.

Over the past few weeks, I have learned to cope with this new reality. The initial feelings of anxiety and fear subsided, and my views changed as I became more sensitive to others and aware of how fragile our society is. 

We are among the lucky ones. Although work from my day job has evaporated, my wife and I live in a comfortable house, our three cats keep us company, and we have enough money to last through this crisis. As a bonus, the weather has been warm and sunny for the daily exercise walks we are allowed to take.

When the lockdown was implemented, my thoughts turned to those less fortunate. Older people unable to leave home, those suffering from grief and depression, and residents of countries with even stricter lockdowns. I thought about how I might share my experiences on social media, to give motivation and bring a smile to the faces of those within my reach.

Living where we do in Eastbourne, on the south-east coast of England, we have many beautiful spots close to our home. There are several parks filled with trees, plants, grassland and lakes. Not far away is a farm track that winds through fields where horses, sheep and cattle graze. Birds sing as though nothing is wrong with the world. Then there is the seafront, along which runs a three-mile promenade, with views out across the English Channel.

Because of the lockdown and social distancing measures, there have been few people around on my daily walks. I gained a sense of tranquillity and tried to capture those precious moments on my smartphone, so I could share them with others. 

With video clips, I recorded nature’s sights and sounds. These included gentle swaying trees with uplifting birdsong in the background, views across idyllic farmland to the hills of the South Downs, and waves crashing onto the shingle beach on a windy but sunny afternoon. 

Amongst other subjects, my photos captured the beauty of spring flowers, rainbows drawn by children hung in windows, colourful beach huts, seafront carpet gardens, and the pier’s golden dome sparkling in the sunlight against a backdrop of clear blue skies.

I posted these to Facebook, both on my timeline and in two groups. In addition, I shared selected videos and photos on Instagram and Twitter. Three of those images are included here. 

Cherry Blossom
Social Distancing Seagulls
Children’s Rainbow Drawings

The responses to my posts have been encouraging and there has been positive feedback from around the world:

Ah, the sound of the sea. Just what I needed. Very clear skies.  Robyn – New Zealand.

Oh, happy memories of a childhood near Brighton! The shingle beach and big waves. Thanks for sharing.  Jackie – France.

I don’t know about you, but I’m appreciating spring more this year. It’s so lovely to watch the birds, butterflies, bees and other creatures carrying on with their daily lives amid the blossoms and blooms.  Jay – Turkey.

Ebony was watching the birds outside from her perch and listening to the birds on your video thinking she was in real time.  Laurie – USA.

One can’t be stressed watching the cows graze and listening to the bird song.  Carola – Canada.

Lovely sights and sounds! Thanks!  Susan – Uruguay.

How lucky to be able to go out for a walk. Thanks for sharing the pics.  Patricia – Spain.

If you are on Facebook and want to view the video clips and see more photos, please send me a friend request and visit my page by clicking here.

As I bring this piece to a close in late April, the weather here has changed, and there is some much-needed rain. Our first rose of spring has chosen this day to make an appearance. A sign of hope for the future?

Rose

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site. For a chance to win a bundle of 15 ebooks along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP”Blog Tour page! Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well. Thank you, and good luck!

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 3, AUTHOR JAN SIKES

AUTHOR JAN SIKES

DEPRESSION SOUP 

She stood in a line her head bowed low

There was nowhere to run, no place to go

With clothes that were ragged

And shoes that were worn

There were millions just like her

She wasn’t alone

America’s Great Depression had stolen their homes

Took its toll on their bodies

Tried to squash their souls

But she squared her shoulders, raised her eyes

Fierce determination replaced her sighs

She’d fight to survive, that much was true

Although many times, she’d be sad and blue

Someday there would be plenty

But for now, she was caught in a loop

She held out her bowl

For another serving

Of Depression Soup

Born in Missouri in 1917, my mom, Marian Edith Clark, learned about hardships at a young age.

Her mother, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, was sickly. The household chores fell on my mom’s shoulders when she was still a child. She shared memories of having to stand on a box so she could reach the stove to cook their meals. 

My mom blue eyes sparkled, and her smile could light up a midnight sky. She started school in Treece, Kansas. Her family were migrant workers. Anytime they found an abandoned house, even if it was spooky, they moved in. Eventually, they landed in Pitcher, Oklahoma, where her father found a job in the iron and ore mines. She was in the ninth grade when he had an accident in the mines, and she had to quit school to help make a living for the family. 

Her father became a bootlegger in Oklahoma. He would often get caught and wind up in jail for six months at a time, leaving the family to fend for themselves.

They eventually moved to Arkansas, where they had kinfolk who were sharecroppers. They picked cotton, and in Mom’s words, “Nearly starved to death.” 

When she was around fourteen, her dad took the family to the Texas cotton fields. The whole family could pick, and they would make twenty-five cents for every hundred pounds of cotton.

We found this story written in a journal after Mom passed away.

“My last school was in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, population around 2,000. We lived two miles out in the country. I went to a two-room school. A man and his wife were both teachers. He taught in one room and her in the other. The man teacher went crazy and tried to kill his wife. When she got away, she came to our house. I’ll never forget how bloody her head was. When the police found him, he had crawled up under their house. So, they put him in a mental hospital.”

The Great Depression hit America in 1929, wiping out any semblance of a prospering economy. It was during that catastrophic era that my mom and dad met in Sayre, Oklahoma. At the time, she was babysitting for one of Dad’s sisters, and living in a government migrant camp with her family.

She was only seventeen, but they fell head-over-heels in love and decided to marry.

Mom had no shoes to wear for the ceremony, and a woman next to them in the camp loaned her a pair of shoes. 

On April 14, 1934, they said their wedding vows in a preacher’s living room and began life together. 

There were no pictures, no fanfare, no parties, and no honeymoon.

They spent their first night as newlyweds, sharing a bed with some of my dad’s younger brothers and sisters.

Their first home was an old farmhouse with nothing in it but a wood stove, a bed, and a table. Mom had no broom to sweep the floors, and when snakes crawled across, they left trails in the dirt.

Through the years, she shared many harrowing stories of how they survived as transients. They stayed within their family group and moved from the strawberry fields in Missouri, to potato fields in Kansas, to cotton fields in Texas. Often, they had no shelter from the elements, sleeping outdoors under a shade tree. Other times, they managed to have a tent or share a tent with other family members.

Mom and Dad’s life together, began under this umbrella of hopeless poverty.

Hunger was a constant companion. My mom had an older brother who often would go out at night and steal a chicken or watermelon.

Enmeshed in daily survival, they could see no future. 

Sometime around late 1934, they moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas not knowing it was in the middle of an epidemic. They were lucky enough to find housing in a WPA camp. My dad got a job digging graves for fifty cents a week, plus a small amount of food. A man working with him warned him to stay clear of the hospital; that no one came out alive.

However, the hospital laundry was the only place Mom found work. Automation wasn’t yet widespread, and especially not in Arkansas, so all of the washing had to be done by hand on rub boards. 

A large scowling woman marched up and down behind the workers with a blackjack in hand. If she thought they weren’t working hard enough or fast enough, she’d whack them across the shoulders. 

During this time, my mom fell ill with Scarlet Fever and they quarantined her. They kept her in a room under lock and key. My worried dad climbed to her window with food. It became apparent that they had to get out of there, or Mom would die. One night when all was quiet, she tied bedsheets together and lowered herself from the two-story window to the ground, where Dad waited.

They caught a ride to Oklahoma on the back of a flatbed truck, and Mom eventually recovered. They never went back to Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

As the years passed, much of my dad’s family migrated to California, the land of milk and honey. But Mom and Dad didn’t go with them due to my grandmother’s failing health, and a younger sister who was inseparable from my mom. They all stuck together. My grandmother passed away in 1942 in Roswell, New Mexico. Pictures show a large goiter on her throat. She died long before I was born.

Mom gave birth to my siblings with help from family and friends. I was the only one to arrive in a hospital setting.

By 1951, the year I was born, Mom and Dad had settled in Hobbs, New Mexico, and purchased a lot on Avenue A. They stretched their tent and immediately started building a house. They put down roots and said goodbye to the transient life they’d known. 

Like everything else in their lives, they built our house themselves. A place not too far from Hobbs, The Caprock, had an abundance of large flat rocks. Every day Dad wasn’t working, he’d head up and bring back a load of rocks to cover the sides of the house. That house withstood many storms, and still stands today. 

When I was around twelve, I distinctly remember watching Mom climb up and down a ladder with bundles of shingles to roof the house. And she did this alone. 

I believe I can declare with all certainty that no two people worked harder than my mom and dad.

Mom was a fantastic cook, having learned from necessity at a young age. She had a sweet tooth and loved to bake. Her specialty was pies. She could make a peach cobbler that would melt in your mouth. 

She never measured anything. She’d throw in a handful of this and a pinch of that, and it turned out perfectly every time. 

Mom was not a worrier. Her philosophy was, “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.” 

I’ve strived to adopt that same philosophy. 

She lived by these seven wisdoms:

1. Don’t whine or throw a fit if things don’t go your way.

2. Take whatever trials God sees fit to give you and make the best of it. Never sit down and give up.

3. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and they’ll come true.

4. Love life and live for God.

5. Hard work never killed anyone. 

6. Try your best and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out the way you first thought.

7. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my mom, as you know if you’ve read my books. But I never forgot her teachings, her strength, and her determination. And for the last thirty years of her life, we were close.

She was the best grandmother my two little girls ever could have hoped for. She adored them as much as they loved her. 

I watch my daughters now and see them practice some of Mom’s ways with their own children, and it makes me happy. 

So, here’s to my mom – the strongest woman I ever knew.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck! 

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” BLOG TOUR, DAY 2, AUTHOR D.L. FINN

D. L. Finn’s Poetry

MISTY MOUNTAIN MOMENT 

It flows quietly on a breeze

Covering the landscape in its presence.

The world simplifies at that moment

While the mountain mist intensifies.

Its threatening chill keeps us indoors

Watching…

Waiting…

Worrying…

How long will it eliminate color from our world?

Yet, we’re securely tucked away inside.

We have a full stomach.

A place to sleep… others don’t.

Some live outside in this mountain mist

Trying to survive.

We offer what we can… from a safe distance.

As we head back to our protected lives

Suddenly, we get a glimpse past the monochrome.

Then we remember that a dreary gray mountain moment

Does not subdue the light that shines within all of us.

GONE

Gone is my freedom as I shelter at home.

Gone is abundant supplies; I must get in line to shop.

Gone are family gatherings, events, and appointments.

Gone is the income from those deemed non-essential.

Gone is the guarantee they will be helped.

This is all replaced by a new world.

Where procuring toilet paper is a reason to celebrate.

Where putting my wants over someone’s safety is a priority.

Where people risk their lives to save others.

Where people do without, perhaps for the first time.

Where learning how to make what used to be available.

Yes, so much has changed and is gone—for now.

My hope is this new insight and caring…

Stays long after everything that is gone, returnsAnd things go back to a new compassionate normal.

STORM 

A storm tore through our world unseen

But we felt its presence as hospitals filled.

We tried to wash it off and hide from it

Yet, it kept coming.

Finally, we headed into the storm shelter

Only venturing out for food…

Unless we were needed to fight this storm.

So many heroes raced into the chaos

Sadly, some did not make it back home.

While the rest of us waited in our safety

Grateful for what we had

Worried for what we did not.

Here we wait for that sunny day

When the storm fades away,

And we return to normal again

Armed with a new understanding…

Of how fragile our existence is.Something the wise won’t ever forget

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour, DAY 1, AUTHOR HARRIET HODGSON

With Hands Clasped: Thoughts of the Pandemic

By Harriet Hodgson

As COVID-19 spread across the land, Americans were directed to stay home. This news led to all sorts of questions. What will we do for entertainment? How will we teach the kids? Will we run out of food? As weeks passed, many Americans felt confined, even imprisoned. Not me. A freelancer for 38+ years, I was used to working at home. 

My husband and I have been married for 62 years. “I love you more today than yesterday,” I often say. Staying home with him was a blessing. Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver, in one of her poems, uses the phrase “with hands clasped.” I lived her words with hands clasped in memory, in caregiving, in creativeness, in gratefulness, and in hope.

In memory . . .

When World War II started, I was four years old. COVID-19 made me anxious and scared. These feelings caused war memories to become vivid again: food rationing, gas rationing, digging potatoes in our Victory Garden, Mom working in a wartime factory, and air raid blackouts. Odd that a pandemic would cause memories to resurface, yet a world war and world virus are similar. Many experts compared fighting the virus to a war, one we would win.

In caregiving . . .

I have cared for three generations of family members. This is my 23rd year in the caregiving trenches. In 2013 my husband’s aorta dissected and he had three emergency operations. When he woke up, he was paraplegic, unable to use his lower body or legs. The night I drove him to the hospital, I became his caregiver, and believe caregiving is love in action. Retired doctors and nurses rallied to fight COVID-19. I added virus protection to my caregiving To Do list.

In creativeness . . .

I have always been a creative person. While I sheltered at home, I revised two workbooks I wrote for grieving kids, edited a children’s picture book, explored doodle art, baked up a storm, and emailed publishers. So far, I have written thousands of articles and 38 books. Two publishers accepted the children’s books. Because of the pandemic, however, production of the grief books is on hold. The children’s picture book is still in production.

In gratefulness . . .

Americans are interdependent and need each other. COVID-19 showed that truckers, store clerks, housekeepers, home sewers, lab techs and countless others are heroes too. Staying home made me realize, yet again, that little things, such as the first robin of spring, are big things. As usual, I was grateful for my wacky sense of humor. (Yes, I laugh at my own jokes.)

Since I could not be physically close to others, I reached out in different ways. I sent surprise gifts to some, was a guest on blog talk radio, signed up for another show, posted book videos on social media, increased email to family members, gave books to friends and strangers. Though I am a kind person, I tried to be kinder, a lesson many learned from the virus. I also vowed to slow down a bit.

In hope . . .

I have survived cancer surgery and open-heart surgery. Each morning, when I awaken, I ask myself, “How can I make the most of the miracle of my life?” At age 84 I am still discovering pieces of my unknown self. Thanks to experience, I know how to adapt to the changes of life. I also know some changes are easy, and others test the soul. 

Poet John O’Donohue, in his book To Bless the Space Between Us, refers to changes as thresholds. Thresholds can make emotions like confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, and hope come alive. It is wise to recognize and acknowledge thresholds, O’Donohue continues, and I have tried to do this. The pandemic pushed America to a threshold, one that will define our nation. Let us cross this threshold together with kindness, dignity, and mutual respect. Let us cross with hands clasped in love.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Thank you and good luck!