21st Century Living

This Week’s Good News!

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Restaurants are closed; planned events are canceled…what is one to do with all that unused food? Give it away, of course. Check out this heartwarming story.

This Week’s Good News!

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One outcome of imposed social distancing is that many Livestream videos are available, including this one that gives us several delightful opportunities to watch animals be cute!

What’s in a name?

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What’s in a name? Turns out, quite a bit. We have all been on the receiving end of name misspellings – whether our first name or our surname. Countless times since my 2000 marriage, my surname has been spelled Olsen.  Fortunately, when our name appears in print, oftentimes such misprints are easy to correct and life blissfully carries on. But what about after our life has ended?

In my home-based gym, I have been exercising as of late to a Netflix series, Finding God, hosted by Morgan Freeman. What attracted me to the series was the fact that no one religion is spotlighted, rather, many beliefs are presented, and that pleases me to no end.

Today’s episode discussed the topic all of us wish we knew more about:

What happens after we leave this life; is there such a thing as eternal life?

Sorry, I don’t have the answer to that question but what I can offer is the following: our name will live on forever. Morgan Freeman went to Thebes, Egypt and received an educational tour of Ramses’ tomb in the Valley of the Kings. (There were several Ramses, this was one of them.) In this tomb, Ramses tried to preserve the memory of his life by writing on the walls and pillars with both a self-body image (a selfie) and the actual writing of his name in the language of his time. He was well aware that many would outlive him but he was also aware that no one lives forever so he’d better make his mark on history while he could.

What about our mark on history? I already know there are more than one Irene Olsons, which is why when I published my book Requiem for the Status Quo, I wrote out my full name, including my middle name, Frances. No doubt I am not the only Irene Frances Olson who ever existed but to my knowledge, I am the only one who wrote this particular novel to honor her father who died from Alzheimer’s disease; I am the only Irene Frances Olson, née Desaulniers then changed to Desonier by her parents in the hopes of others spelling it correctly; the only Irene Frances Olson who birthed Erin Maureen Li Sai Wong Green; the only woman fortunate enough to be named Irene Frances Olson because of her marriage to Jerry Olson; I am also the only Grammo to her grandson, Lucas…and so on and so forth. Who I am as Irene Frances Olson is different from every other person similarly named because who I am is a result of how I have lived my life and how I continue to live my life.

My name is very important because it is attached to the me who is trying to make a difference everywhere she goes.

No one else is me, so I choose to make sure I inspire memories in others that will carry from one generation to the next. Fortunately, I don’t have to be famous in order for that to happen. All that is necessary is that the me that is attached to my version of Irene Frances Olson is memorable in a positive way.

This Week’s Good News!

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Oh, my. This next story is pure poetry…I’m not kidding! From one country to another, goodness abounds, even in the midst of extraordinary difficulty.

This Week’s Good News!

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Pretty sure we’ve all lived long enough to realize that during difficult and widespread tragic times, the best, and the worst, in human nature surfaces. Well, this being a Good News story, I will of course spotlight the best in human nature, and here it is in this brief story…and I’m not fooling!!!!!

My Beautiful Mother’s Legacy

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Julie Braig on our left; my mother on our right, in beige.

My mother, Patricia Constance Conroy Desonier, left my world far too early: September 24, 1994. She was an extraordinary mother, spouse, grandmother, musician, and activist.

As a member of the Honolulu Chapter of the Catholic Women’s Guild, she and other community-minded women spearheaded a ministry to benefit the homeless on the areas of Oahu most populated by those affected by the inability to maintain a roof over their heads. In this article the many charitable works of the Guild were spotlighted, including the efforts my mother and another member, Julie Braig, completed, centered in Nanakuli, Hawaii.

Kid’s playground dedicated to my mother after her death.

They created an Office of Homeless Ohana (Ohana meaning family) where individuals and family members could set up a mailing address so they could send off applications and resumes to acquire meaningful employment and/or receive mail from other loved ones, have a place to shower, receive meals, and gather as a community; playground equipment was even secured and installed so children could play and live just like those who had a home to return to each day.

My family lived 30 miles away from where this shelter existed, and my mother’s abilities were limited because of severe rheumatoid arthritis that plagued her since she was a teenager, but my mother and Julie made the trip week in and week out to help those who needed someone in their corner during a rough time in their lives. My mother taught me many things about charity and living a full life. Here are a few of her maxims:

  • Don’t assume everyone lives as comfortably as you do. Life can change in an instant;
  • Give of yourself in any way you can;
  • When in physical pain, just remember: you can be active and hurt a bit more, or you can stay at home and do nothing and still hurt, nonetheless.

Thank you, Mom, for being such an influence on my life, my family’s life, and the lives of so many who never met you. I love you, and I miss you terribly.

Social Media in the time of Covid-19

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On my area’s Next Door app, a person, now working from home (Angry Neighbor) lambasted his next-door neighbor for having a new roof put on (Roofing Neighbor) because of all the noise that disrupted the Angry Neighbor’s workday. Without even checking with Roofing Neighbor, he concluded the roofing work was not necessary, was not of an emergent need, and therefore Roofing Neighbor was ruining everyone’s work-from-home experience out of utter rudeness and with ill-intent.

Roofing Neighbor responded by saying the work was being done because of leaks that were disrupting family life and causing an unsafe environment for their family of five. It was indeed an emergent, rather than an elective, roof repair.

Angry Neighbor and Roofing Neighbor went back and forth and back and forth while those following the stream excoriated Angry Neighbor for being such an )&*?+^$%^&#% to the tune of 47 comments by the end of the day. I happened to notice that Angry Neighbor and Roofing Neighbor had stopped commenting way before that time so they had obviously removed themselves from the fray.

The next day, there were 137 comments, none from Angry and Roofing Neighbor, but comments nonetheless from uninvolved people still ticked off at Angry Neighbor’s rudeness in bashing his next-door neighbor.

What is this all about?

It’s about fragile psyches angered and worried about the state of our country and our world in the time of Covid-19. Sure, such social media harassing and bullying has been going on for quite some time now, but I have to believe it has worsened because of how vulnerable all of us feel.

A dog backed into a corner lashes out at perceived threats.

We are all backed in a corner right now with no proven safe way out. Most of us are doing our part in trying to contain a menace that threatens our very existence and that of our loved ones, but thus far, no relief is on the immediate horizon. We are petrified, and instead of treating each other with kid gloves, some of us are kicking others when they are down, a practice that need not happen. Instead…

As a human race, we must choose between:

  • the violence of adults, and the smiles of children;
  • the ugliness of hate, and the will to oppose it;
  • inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man, and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves for naught.

Even in darkness, it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. Every moment of our life is essential; every gesture is essential. Our role in life is to give an offering to each other. – Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel

 

This Week’s Good News!

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We all know that as adults, we are supposed to encourage children to read – whether in the classroom or outside the classroom. But what does one do when a school’s finances aren’t enough to stock a library? Well, you do what this librarian did: you scour discount, used stores and use your own money to create one for them. Wait until you see this!

This Week’s Good News!

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Oh my, I sure do love it when my local ABC affiliate runs an Eric’s Heroes story. You will be challenged, yet encouraged, by how 83-year old Bernie Stillwell has chosen to face life – even as she loses bits and pieces of her mobility.

This Week’s Good News!

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Generation Z could teach all the rest of the existing generations a thing or two. Like in this story that makes inclusion the norm. My heart is full of good vibes with this delightful good news story.

Life’s Chapters

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I am not a writer, I happen to be a woman, mother, spouse, sister, grandmother, aunt, and a friend who has tried her hand at writing. I wrote a novel, Requiem for the Status Quo, to honor the father for whom I provided care when he had Alzheimer’s disease – a disease that took his life on October 13, 2007. I didn’t set out to be a novelist – arguably, I’m really not a novelist at all – but I knew it was imperative that I do something important for future Alzheimer’s caregivers and to use whichever vehicle was needed to accomplish that something. For me, it was writing a book.

Then what? What else could I possibly do to magnify the impact I set out to make regarding the disease that takes everyone it settles on, and forever changes the family members associated with its victims?

What I did was join AlzAuthors, a digital and community platform that uses the art of storytelling to light the way for those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, to advance understanding of the disease, and to lift the silence and stigma of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As a newly published author and a survivor of dementia caregiving, I was extraordinarily impressed – and still am – with the organization founded by three daughters of Alzheimer’s who sought a place of refuge and resources for their own caregiving journeys.

Then a funny thing happened – one of those founders asked me to join the management team of five, an invitation I gladly accepted, and with the guidance of a business consultant, who just happens to be my own daughter, AlzAuthors went from being a growing community of authors to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Then something else happened: although not serious, my health took a debilitating turn that now requires me to step back from my AlzAuthors responsibilities. Only the patient knows what she can handle, and what I know is that my focus needs to be on my health, as well as on the precious family that means so very much to me. I am still an AlzAuthor and I very much support AlzAuthors’ non-profit mission, but I will do so from a slightly removed distance.

Of this I am certain, and I quote Pico Iyer when I state:

In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.

In an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention.

In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.

I completed another novel with a message I feel is of great importance that I will publish later this year. Currently, however, I have more important matters on which to spend my time and energy.

Now is my time for sitting still – focusing on me, and focusing on my family. That is the latest chapter I am writing for my life, hoping to get it right, once and for all.

This Week’s Good News!

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Leave it to Reno, Nevada to figure out how to use dance to benefit those with cognitive impairment. This story spotlights a wonderful dance club that is making a grand impact on the lives of those with dementia and their loved ones.

This Week’s Good News!

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You can’t take it with you, that’s for sure, but this 105-year-old Seattle woman took it to a whole new level. She lived a simple life and ended up with $10 million left unspent…she found a wonderful use for every last dollar. Such a wonderful story.

Dynamic Trilogy by Actor/Director Lynne Gentry: Women of Fossil Ridge

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Flying Fossils, Lynne Gentryby Lynne Gentry

Fourteen years ago, my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was a brilliant woman who’d spent the majority of her career in the legal field as a very sought-after court reporter. But as her disease progressed to her brain, her physical and mental health slowly declined. The woman I knew, the one who could add columns of numbers in her head and spell medical terms longer than her arm, slowly lost the ability to balance her checkbook and manage her meds.

It soon became evident that someone would have to step in and help my father manage her care.

Unlike a lot of caregivers, I was fortunate. I have two sisters and a brother. All of us agreed to give one week a month to come “take care of Mom.” But I lived 8 hours away and had to make the long drive alone. Added to the strain of doing my part for Mom, I had a husband, a drama business, and two teenagers still living at home.

For two years, I juggled Mom’s care and my family. It was the most wonderful thing I’ve had the privilege of doing. It was also the most stressful, exhausting, and one of the saddest times in my life. When Mom’s thoughts were clear, we’d reminisce about old times, or I’d ask questions about her childhood. I did my best to collect her knowledge of our family tree. But as cancer progressed in her brain, the good days became fewer and her thinking became more like that of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.Finally Free, Lynne Gentry

Mom had little notebooks everywhere with jottings that made no sense and her actions became dangerous. One day she drove her motorized wheelchair to the curb, slid into her old Lincoln, left her scooter on the side of the road, and drove herself to Walmart. When she got to the store, she realized that without help, she couldn’t get to the motorized cart she needed to navigate Walmart. She sat in the Walmart parking lot for thirty minutes, had a good cry, then turned around and drove home. Fortunately, she didn’t wreck the car, she found her way home, and her scooter was right where she left it.

To keep from crying about Mom’s deterioration, I learned to laugh. Humor became my key to surviving the horrible process of watching pieces chip off of this person I’d always thought was invincible. Watching Mom deal with her impending death taught me a lot about how I wanted to die. There were things I wanted to do and so many things I wanted to say while I still could. Most importantly, I gained a deeper appreciation for each day and the importance of faith, friends, and family.First Frost, Lynne Gentry

But I wasn’t sure what to do with the stress I felt for how much time taking care of Mom was taking away from caring for my family. We’d just moved to a new city. My teenage children were adjusting to a new home, new school, and trying to make new friends. The burden of taxiing them to all of their activities fell to my husband. Every time I missed one of their activities, I was swamped with guilt. When I was with Mom, I felt like I was failing my kids. And when I was with my family, I worried that Mom’s care would fall through the cracks.

While this fictional story does not depict the exact journey I had with my mother, many of the feelings portrayed in the three-book series come from the ups and downs I experienced during the caregiving process. When I did the research into the different types of dementia, I realized the dilemmas that arose during my intense period of caregiving were not unique to me. Millions of you are currently sacrificing your time, money, and efforts to care for an aging parent. Your struggle is real.

My prayer is that this three-book series will give you permission to laugh, rest, and to ask for help when you feel pulled in a thousand different directions. That you will experience love on the deepest level when you give love to another—whether or not they give love to you. That by your loving actions you will teach your children what it means to love, even when it’s difficult. That you’ll find something to laugh about every day. And that, in the end, you’ll forgive yourself for feeling like you failed everyone who had you sandwiched between two impossible choices.

Lynne Gentry

Lynne Gentry Author Bio

Lynne Gentry is an actor/director turned award-nominated fiction author who loves using her crazy imagination to entertain audiences with her books. Her varied works range from the highly-praised time travel series (Carthage Chronicles) to two laugh-out-loud romantic comedy series (Mt. Hope Southern Adventures and the Women of Fossil Ridge). She recently released a co-written medical thriller (Ghost Heart) with author friend Lisa Harris. RT Reviews calls Lynne Gentry a Top Pick author and one to watch. Readers say her writing is extraordinary and her stories exceptional. When Lynne is not creating enchanting new worlds, she’s laughing with her family or working the cancer wards with her medical therapy dog. Find out more about Lynne and her books at www.lynnegentry.com.

Website:  https://www.lynnegentry.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Author-Lynne-Gentry-215337565176144/

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/Lynne_Gentry

Pinterest:   https://www.pinterest.com/lynnegentry7/?etslf=4411&eq=lynne

Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/lynnegentry.author/?hl=en

Amazon links to each book in the trilogy: Flying Fossils, Finally FreeFirst Frost

This Week’s Good News!

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This heartwarming story out of the UK shows the generosity of a gentleman who noticed something amiss, did something about it and absolutely made someone’s day. Check it out.

The encouraging truth about children’s hearts!

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Yep, that’s me in both photos.

Since my grandson turned 3 months old, my husband and I have had the delight and privilege of providing child care for him a few days a week. As I’ve said to anyone who will listen, being a grandparent is one of the most cherished roles I have ever taken on.

Before Lucas had a presence in my life, however, I became a mother to a little girl who has become one of the most astonishing, loving, and giving people I have ever known. Other than the normal worries parents adopt while their children are growing up, Erin never caused any drama or heartache from the day she was born. But it’s only since I became a grandmother that I have faced the truth of how beautiful a child’s heart is – how honest and generous are their expressions of love. Don’t get me wrong, when I was a very young mother I appreciated the precious person that was my daughter, I became thrilled at every adorable development in her life, I felt that being a mother was – and is – my highest calling, but now as a considerably older mother and grandmother, I am freshly aware of a young child’s ways of expressing that love.

My husband and I can be playing outside with our 2+ year old grandson when all of a sudden he will stop what he is doing and run to one of us with his arms open wide and launch himself at his Grampa; then he will turn toward me, Grammo, and run and launch himself at me, with the tightest huggies and kissies available on this earth. Or out of nowhere, regardless of where we are or what we are doing, Lucas will walk up to one or both of us and say, “Kiss Grammo, Kiss Grampa” and we do just that. The honesty of a child’s behavior is mind-blowing to me – there is no pretense and no calculated manipulation. Certainly, that will come later as it did for all of us, but right now, that type of behavior does not exist. If one or both of us grandparents do something Lucas deems as funny, he’ll endearingly say, “Oh, Grammo. Oh, Grampa” and the smile on his face when he says that melts my heart over, and over, and over again. What a gift this little 2.9-year-old child is to us.

I am so grateful that I have been freshly exposed to the joy-infusing love of a child’s heart. What an extraordinary Valentine’s Day gift that is to me in my mid-60s of life.

 

This Week’s Good News!

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This delightful story out of Oregon shows the lengths a grandparent will go to spend time with his grandchildren and make their school days just a bit brighter. I know you’ll enjoy the wonderful connection he has with his young ones.

20 years ago today I made the smartest decision of my life…

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I married Jerry Olson. I have known him for 24 years, a duration of time where we have both experienced the joys, and the travails, that life has to offer.

Jerry has been my dutiful caregiver far too many times during illnesses and surgeries. He has supported me during stressful times and celebrated me during accomplished times.

He is an extraordinary person, an amazing spouse and father, and the best Grampa a child could ever hope for.

This post couldn’t possibly provide sufficient space for me to adequately celebrate my husband, so I’ll end here by saying, thank goodness two people, born in 1953 and 1956 managed to get together in 1996 and marry in 2000.

 

This Week’s Good News!

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A five-year-old in San Diego, CA was concerned about school lunch debt incurred by those households not able to keep up with their children’s lunch expenses. Wait until you see how she set out to rectify this ongoing problem that occurs in so many school districts. What a great story to start February’s weekly good news!

This Week’s Good News!

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One thing I’ve learned over the years is that regardless of how many differences appear to separate us from others, those differences disappear when kindness is at the forefront of all that we do. This next Good News story will really float your boat.

This Week’s Good News!

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Living a life with no regrets would be the kind of good news we all would be willing to celebrate. You will be saddened, but encouraged, by this WWII veteran’s story. Please take the time to honor him and his family with your time.

This Week’s Good News!

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So many in this world suffer unbearable loss; I do not know how such losses are reconciled, or how one survives such a loss without losing one’s soul. A young mother in Wisconsin lost her baby boy, shortly after his birth. The generosity she exhibited after her loss absolutely floored me.

This Week’s Good News!

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It is so easy to take the comfort of our Home Sweet Home for granted, even when so many, through no fault of their own, have nowhere to live: homeless on the street or living in their vehicle, there are countless numbers of fellow human beings who have no home to call their own. This story about a school bus driver will warm your heart. Let us all be careful not to judge those whose stories we know nothing of.

This Week’s Good News!

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Happy New Year! May 2020 see kindness, love, and abundant health as your portion!

If I tried to describe the story that makes up the first Good News story of the year, I would fail miserably. Please click on this link to both read, and listen, to proof that miracles happen, and because they do, we should never give up hope.

This Week’s Good News!

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This story out of Nova Scotia, Canada will warm your heart. There are angels everywhere, and this guardian angel proves it when he helps an elderly neighbor.

Merry Christmas everyone!

May Comfort and Joy be Your Portion

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Thank you to all who have chosen to keep in touch over the many years I have hosted this blog.

Please stay safe during the Holidays and take some time for yourself as we plod toward a New Year!

This Week’s Good News! a few days late…

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Lending a hand when needed is something at which customers at a Birmingham, Alabama Waffle House excelled. I am certain one particular employee at this eating establishment had the experience of a lifetime during his work shift. I sure do love good news like this.

The limited value of worrying.

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Your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia and as their biological child you wonder, “Will that be my fate?”

An article of mine, Me Worry? Not on your Life was recently published on the CogniHealth website, a company that in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, developed a caregiver aid for those – especially family members – providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

I chose the topic of whether or not dementia might be passed along to biological family members because as a daughter who witnessed the decline of her father as a result of dementia, I certainly had an opinion on the matter. Does one need to worry their entire life about the chance of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease?

I hope you will read my article that while transparent and painfully clear, also provides many rays of hope and encouragement for those in similar circumstances.

At the very least, I am certain you will come away with a clearer understanding of how little value worry contributes to ones’ life.

This Week’s Good News!

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As someone who relies on books to provide carefree, enjoyable quality time in my life, I really appreciate a story based out of Chicago, that focuses on libraries and their book-return policy. Just wait until you read this one!

This Week’s Good News!

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A young girl in the UK wants Crayola Crayons to improve its ecological footprint in her country. Check out her extraordinary efforts here. She is amazing!