Prioritize! Prioritize! Prioritize!

Thanks to Glenda C. Beall for inspiring this post. In her latest blog entry, “What Defines Your Life? You Choose.” she talks about finding time to write in the midst of family and other obligations. 

Before I became a full time writer, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. When I developed an interest in writing, people said, “Don’t quit your day job.” It was hard to find time to write when I wasn’t working.

When I got married, my husband Bill encouraged me to quit my job. He was also disabled and assured me that between his and my social security benefits, we could make ends meet without me having to work. Since I wanted to write full time, I jumped at the chance to do so.

However, I still had plenty of other obligations. After the wedding, I had to send a multitude of thank you letters to those who sent or brought gifts or money. Bill hired a friend to put up a Website for me, and I was busy putting together material for that. He also bought me a new computer, and since it was a PC, and I’d been using a Mac, I had to learn how to use the new computer and transfer my files from the old to the new system.

Three months later when things finally settled down, Bill suffered his first  stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side, and when I wasn’t traipsing back and forth to the nursing home while he was recovering, I was on the phone to doctors and other professionals in an attempt to manage his care and filling out paperwork for a loan to buy a different house that could more easily be made wheelchair accessible.

When he was discharged from the nursing  home eight months later, I became a full time family caregiver. This meant dressing him, helping him go to the bathroom, giving him his medications, not to mention preparing meals, and doing laundry and other chores.

To make a long story short, he’s gone now, and I have plenty of time on my hands, but I still have to prioritize. I’m still asked if I play my guitar and sing at the nursing home, but I always say I don’t have time. I do have time to work on my memoir, write an occasional poem or story, update my blog and Website, send material to publications, and do various chores associated with positions I hold in several writers’ organizations to which I belong. At the end of the day, I have time to stretch out in my husband’s recliner and read a good book written by someone else who is probably scrambling to find time to write.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

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Graduation

Thanks to Bruce Atchison for inspiring this post. On his blog, he talks about his struggles with math in high school and how he almost dropped out because of that. Although he managed to graduate, he couldn’t participate in the ceremony because he  couldn’t afford a cap and gown. He shares his experiences on his blog and in his three memoirs: Deliverance from Jericho, When a Man Loves a Rabbit, and How I Was Razed. You’ll find links to where these books can be purchased in print and eBook formats. 

I also had trouble with math but not just in high school. In the sixth grade, a teacher I’ll call Mr. Smith threatened me with an eighteen-inch ruler for not understanding long division. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t required to take math past the ninth grade. I had some problems in high school, but because of the love and support of my family, it never occurred to me to drop out. I don’t remember if I had to rent a cap and gown, but I do recall walking across that stage to receive my diploma and my classmates giving me a standing ovation.

If anyone reading this has just graduated from high school or college, good for you. I leave you now with “Climb Every Mountain,” a song I remember singing with the choir at the ArizonaStateSchool for the Deaf & Blind in Tucson one year during its commencement ceremony. Good luck to all you graduates in finding and realizing your dreams. 

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

 

 

Lessons Learned from Dad

My fondest childhood memories are of Dad and me listening to music together. Dad loved to play the old standards on those scratchy long-playing records by such artists as Fats Waller and Nat King Cole. These songs taught me lessons that I’m pretty sure Dad wanted me to learn.

If “The Joint is Jumpin,” you’re going to get in trouble. No man will like you if “Your Feet’s Too Big.” You’d better “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I also learned to appreciate “Seafood, Mama” but not until I was an adult.

Dad also tried to teach me the value of money. He thought he’d succeeded until I sold my wheelchair accessible van last month because Bill was gone, and I no longer needed it. George, who responded to my ad, asked if I could take a thousand dollars off the asking price because the switch on the back of the vehicle that automatically opened the doors to the lift didn’t work, and the lift needed to be re-sized to fit his electric wheelchair. Because he appeared to be in desperate need of this vehicle, I agreed. Dad was livid. He claimed that it wouldn’t have cost a thousand dollars to fix these problems, but what he didn’t understand was a lesson I didn’t learn from him.

Although money is important, being helped and passing on that good deed to another is more valuable. Several years ago, Bill and I really wanted a van we could use to go places at night and on weekends when the local paratransit service wasn’t running. We were lucky to find someone willing to sell us such a vehicle at a price we could afford. When George came to my home in response to my ad, I could tell right away he was in the position we were in several years ago. I didn’t really need that extra thousand dollars, and he needed the van.

I leave you now with another lesson I did learn from Dad via Louis Armstrong. Despite the hateful things going on around us, we live in a “Wonderful World.” To my dad and others reading this, I hope you have a special Father’s Day.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Don’t Hate, America!

According to National Public Radio, a recent Cheereos ad posted on YouTube sparked a lot of hateful comments from viewers because it features a mixed race family. The video opens with the white mother and child sitting at the kitchen table, talking about how good Cheereos is for your heart. In the next scene, the black father awakens to find a box of Cheereos being unceremoniously dumped on his chest. 

After all these years, I can’t believe that so many people still feel hatred toward others who are different. They’re so wrapped up in their hatred that they’ve forgotten the concept of America. Centuries ago, this country was formed by people who fled here from other lands to escape oppression. Nevertheless, ever since before the Civil War, we’ve been oppressing others because of their race, color, religious beliefs, disabilities, and other attributes that set them apart from the rest of us.

A woman in my singing group apparently doesn’t like homosexuals. For years, she and her husband have been volunteering  with the Boy Scouts. Last Saturday while I was having lunch with her and others in our group, she announced that she and her husband were considering leaving the scouts because of a recent ruling abolishing their anti-gay policy. I told her, “That policy was just like telling me I couldn’t sing with you because of my visual impairment.” I hope I gave her some food for thought to go with her dessert.

I’m not homosexual or black. I haven’t married a black man or woman and started a family. However, my mind is open to a world of possibilities. A family doesn’t have to have a mother and father who are both either black or white and not mixed. A family can have two moms, two dads, a potbellied pig. The wonderful thing about this country is that we have diverse cultures with different beliefs and traditions, and for the most part, we’re free to live how we choose. Nobody should have the right to hate others who are different. I leave you now with another video of a song that echoes my sentiment and the words of Rodney King, the black man who was beaten by white police officers. “Can we all just try to get along?”

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver