Thursday, 24 December 2009

Louder than Words

As I'm visiting the library on a regular basis I decided to read some inspiring biographies. I've just read 'Louder than Words. A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism.' by Jenny McCarthy.
She writes; this is not really a book on autism but a book about faith.

The person that Jenny reveals in the book is very different from the person she portrays in her picture on the cover and the person that she portrays as a 'minor celeb' as she calls herself.
She has long blond hair and bright makeup, but her writing reveals her to be someone who is in touch with her inner guidance, who talks to God often, asking what she needs to be learning from the situation she finds herself in. She didn't notice that her two year old son didn't hug her and give physical affection because she always felt the love his soul was sending her. She physically felt the seizure her child had on the two occasions he seized when she was hundreds of miles away. She shows amazing tenacity in finding answers to her child's health problems, not giving up even when she was breaking apart. Her determination to do whatever it took to heal her child even though she was the bread winner in her family. Her husband was less than supportive (in common with most men statistically in times of crisis with their children) but she stuck to the facts and her feelings of needing support and didn't overstate the problem. She was very restrained in her account of that side of her life. She also had an unwavering vision of her child Evan as a healthy teenager.

I would recommend this book but warn that she uses some profanity, especially when recounting her most stressful period when her child was regularly seizing and the medics wear clueless.

For those people who are interested in autism then this is an excellent book to learn about this journey to enlightenment about the treatment, which in Evan's case was successful. She also creates a pamphlet that she wished she had been given when she was first given the diagnosis.

Friday, 18 December 2009

America's Health Care?

America has a drug problem. I'm not thinking about the crack, cocaine stuff young people get and use on the streets, or the marijuana, the older generation smoke in their homes, but the drugs that are advertised all day and night at frequent intervals on the TV and in all publications.

When I was in North Carolina 7 years ago, a work colleague gave me an old TV and the girls watched a few programs regularly - The Gilmore Girls and the series about the pastor's large family. But it wasn't on much.

I'm now living in a home that has the TV on all day and night in one room and a good few hours in the lounge and sometimes in the bathroom too. I switch the set off when the person who switched it on has left the room. (Otherwise I stand there gawping at it mesmerized.)

Something I noticed about the advertisements is that they are very frequent - about every 10 minutes or so, and go on for a long time. And during most commercial breaks you will see adverts for prescription drugs.

These are very good ads. They usually run along these lines. A person (an actor who just looks like an everyday person between 40-55) will be doing some everyday task such as polishing his pickup. He or she will be talking to you as if you were a friend of theirs. They will say how they can do such and such now because they take XYZ medication. They say that "XYZ may not be right for you if you have liver disease", or some other ailment, or your asthma medication already works for you. And then they go on to list, in a conversational way, all the side effects - dry mouth, constipation etc etc, - a whole long list of things, and then end up with saying "Ask your doctor if XYZ is right for you. XYZ is right for me and now I can live my life again." A voice-over will say that the first prescription for XYZ is free, ask you doctor for details.

There are also similar adverts for medical plans where a person can review their prescription plan etc.

My point is that these adverts give the impression that needing prescription drugs is a normal way of life and you're not normal if you don't pop pills to releive you of your little aches and pains etc.

I think that a very large proportion of the population actually do take prescription drugs regularly and call themselves healthy.

When I was here before I had an occasion to get a prescription filled for one of my daughters and was really amazed that so many prescriptions were waiting to be filled at the pharmacy. There is a pharmacy in every supermarket and shops like Walmart, and there are drug stores in every shopping area. This particular prescription took at least 4 hours to get filled and there was loads of staff working very hard. I was flabbergasted.

In Britain, supermarkets have only very recently started to include pharmacies, but there is a chemist (drug store) in every shopping area. However, they have seats where you can sit and wait for your prescription to be filled if you don't have any shopping to do.

The difference is that prescription drugs are not allowed to be advertised at all in Britain. Not on the TV or in printed publications. Prescriptions used to be free to all in the early days of the NHS, but now only those on welfare get them free. Everyone else has to pay a standard fee for each drug collected.

I read that if sugar was eliminated from the diet of Americans then diseases would be reduced by 50%!

Americans think they have the best health care in the world but I beg to differ. Do these people get cured? No, even the doctors don't suggest the drugs will cure them. Their symptoms are 'managed'. A more accurate statement would be they have the most lucrative disease care.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A New Role

So now I'm a Grandma! My eldest daughter had her baby girl, Cara Isabella, in the early evening of 10th December 2009.

Cara was born at home attended by her father, and a very experienced midwife, a midwife who is not so experienced and, having moved states, is not yet registered in Montana, and an assistant who is in training to become a midwife. Helen says they were all busy and doing a fine job and I look forward to reading her birth story.

I asked Helen to tell me when she was in labour so I could pray for the event. Fortunately, she remembered I was praying and phoned me soon after the birth. I asked to speak to my new Grandbaby and she squeaked and squealed while she was being measured. She sounded delightful and happy to be here.

Two days later I spoke to her again on the phone and she stopped and listened to me! Helen said she became still and looked away from the phone with a look of concentration. How precious.

I'll be visiting them in mid January when the cost of travel goes down.

I'm looking forward to this new role. I do hope, though that we won't be living so far away from each other the whole of her life.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

WWII Veteran

Monday 7th November was the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and George put 'Old Glory", the flag of the USA outside his house.

He took me to the WholeFoods store, and at my suggestion, sat in the cafe with a coffee and snack whilst I filled the cart.

He told me later that he had sat by the door and as people passed him, several of them stopped to tell him "I sure do appreciate what you did for us," and other words to that effect. I wondered what they were referring to until I noticed he had a baseball cap with "WWII VETERAN" on the front. He also has a 'US NAVY RETIRED' cap and gets a similar response when he wears that.

This would not happen in Britain, because it's not common to own and wear baseball caps that have messages like the above. People are more reserved and don't wish to draw attention to themselves in such a manner.

I like the fact that Americans are proud to have served their country and others are grateful that they did.

I'm an unusual Brit in that I do interact with strangers quite happily and feel comfortable asking people I pass on the street how they're doing, whilst looking them in the eye.

This is probably what the personality report meant by me being an unpredictable introvert.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Introversion is Due to Biology!

Yesterday I was reading a personality test report (from that I had downloaded onto my computer and I came across this passage that explains the difference between how an introvert and an extrovert reacts to situations.

"From the instant an introvert enters the door of any party, his or her brain instinctually becomes highly active. He or she notices who is standing where, who is talking to whom, and the small changes in the expression of the person to whom he or she is talking. When many people are around, there is a lot to pay attention to. The introvert's brain becomes over- stimulated. After several hours, this becomes exhausting, and the introvert's brain feels a slight aversion to attending such activities in the near future. Introverts need a break and some time alone in order to recover energy. This aversion, dislike, or slight fear of social situations is then what people label as a personality trait called 'shyness'. The basis, however, is largely biological - a brain and nervous system that is more sensitive than average.

Extroverts, on the other hand, have a brain system that is naturally less sensitive or stimulated than average. To stimulate their brains, extroverts need to surround themselves with people, activities, and movement. They gather their energy from 'external' rather than 'internal' or self- generated sources. In this sense, too, being outgoing comes from one's biology."

This explains why, when my host talks to me whilst her television is on, I cannot concentrate on what she's saying. Even if she mutes the sound, the stimulus from the TV is still in the room and my attention is drawn to it.

Whew! It's good to have a label for it. I just thought I was odd!

Oh, I've just thought..... Isn't this part of the autistic spectrum? I wonder if people who are autistic have a score of 0 out of 100 on the extrovert scale?

For those readers who are interested, here is a small part of the report talking about how extrovert I am.

Where is your energy naturally directed? Extroverts' energy is directed primarily outward, towards people and things outside of themselves. Introverts' energy is directed primarily inward, towards thoughts, perceptions, and reactions.

Your Result
• Your score of 30 out of 100 classifies you as 'moderate with tendency towards low' in extroversion.

Your Feedback
• Your mix between the traits of introversion and extroversion creates an interesting situation: extroverts tend to be more naturally active, expressive, social, and interested in many things, whereas introverts tend to be more reserved, reflective, private, and interested in fewer interactions, but with greater depth and focus. You manifest both tendencies and often waiver between the two, often for weeks at a time. This makes you interesting and unpredictable to many people.
• While you do have a social side, being around large groups of people tends to reduce your energy reserves over time. You recover energy best by spending some time alone, by having space either physically or mentally. Many people are afraid of silence and of self-reflection. You are not.
• You are observant and perceptive, viewing the world with a quiet understanding. Being so intensively observant of one's self and of others is often an automatic response - you do it without effort or intention. Your sensitivity to many stimuli, then, makes it that you need / prefer to limit your interactions, especially social. You are likely to have a select, small number of friends that you know well, rather than a large amount of acquaintances that you know only superficially.

The Moravian Candle Tea

The first Saturday in December is always the Raleigh Moravian Church Candle Tea.

The Morvian Church has it's roots in Moravia which is now part of the Czech Republic. Their beliefs and practices are similar to the Methodists. In fact when they first went to America they shared a ship with the Methodists. They went because they were concerned about the American Indians in 1735.

During the Candle Tea the church celebrates it's history of crafts and baking, by holding demonstrations of both. The hostesses for the tea are dressed in costumes patterned on a style followed by Moravian women of the mid-1700's.
They serve sugar cake and coffee (no tea in site) and demonstrate the making of beeswax candles and the trimming of them in with a red paper ruffle.

There is also a Putz which is an elaborate nativity scene. If you've ever seen model train settings run by enthusiasts and translate the detail of the modeling into the nativity scene then you will be some way to understanding what a Putz is. the one they have at this church was really lovely. The lady explaining it said that in her home theirs is extended to the different scenes of before and after the birth of Jesus, and takes up much space in several rooms. Sounds really fun for the children and the child in all adults.

The youth were demonstrating intricate paper folded 3-D stars for the tree and another lady demonstrated intricately cut out shapes for the tree too. There were other crafts of photography, knitting, sewing, baking on display, with much being sold.

However the highlight for me was the musical event going on in the sanctuary the whole afternoon. Choirs from different high schools each had 30 minute programs of Christmas music. It was wonderful. They were all of a very high standard. At the end of Cary High School's set they invited the following school, Jesse O, Sanderson High School onto the stage and they both performed the Hallelujah Chorus. It was marvelous. One choir sang most of their songs a cappella and I didn't detect a flat or sharp note at all.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see Garner or Enloe High Schools sing. This was a shame because my daughters went to those schools when we lived here before.

George, my host who drove, cannot drive at night so we had to get back home before dark.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A Good Turn Each Day

The room I'm staying is is filled with stuff accumulated over the years by the family I'm living with. I'm slowly clearing out the things and today I came across a box of small items. Most of it is junk - old keys, hotel soaps, a box of paper clips, markers, a tub of small change and some bag ties.

I found one item, though, of great value. It's probably only worth only a few cents if that, but I wanted to pass on the value of it to you.

It's a large 'coin' with the boy scout emblem and the` words "On my honor I will do my best" on one side, and on the other is written "Secretly transfer me to your right pocket each day after your good turn has been done."

Of course this is for children, but don't we all want to do our best and don't we all feel great when we've done something for someone else? And don't we all forget when we're busy living our daily lives? This is a wonderful way to help us remember to do that good deed, however small every day. We don't need to have the coin, any object would do. A smooth amethyst or pink quartz would do and of course it helps to have pockets. But I'm sure we can find a way to remind ourselves that we still haven't done that good deed yet and need to do it before the end of the day.