Holidays allow time to reflect, reexamine life

Holidays allow time to reflect, reexamine life
Liz Thompson
This Week News
December 4, 2014

What time is it? Our most natural reaction, when we hear this question, is to glance at our watch or clock.

In 2004, I worked in an elementary school in Arizona where students took turns each morning announcing the date, time, daily lunch menu and special events over the intercom from the principal’s office. One day, when the students looked at the clock on the wall, they couldn’t read the time so the principal told them.

The clock they could not read was analog; the “old fashioned” clock with “hands” most of us older than 30 used learning to read time.

Staff learned of this situation when the principal visited each classroom. When she saw all clocks were digital, analog clocks were ordered for the entire school.

The principal realized it’s a digital age, but she knew the importance of knowing how to read clocks both ways.

We use time to mark most things in our lives. The song, Turn! Turn! Turn! , written by Pete Seeger in the 1950s, during a relatively stable time in our country, was made popular in our more turbulent 1960s when recorded (on vinyl, not digital) by The Byrds. It’s all about the value of time. Based on the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 the lyrics tell us:

“To everything – turn, turn, turn, There is a season – turn, turn, turn, And a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die, A time to plant, a time to reap, A time to kill, a time to heal, A time to laugh, a time to weep.

A time to build up, a time to break down, A time to dance, a time to mourn, A time to cast away stones, A time to gather stones together.

A time of love, a time of hate, A time of war, a time of peace, A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose, A time to rend, a time to sew, A time for love, a time for hate, A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!”

Are you singing or humming along? I listened to it online and sang along, remembering and being amazed Bible verses were made popular in the mainstream music industry.

Last month began what advertisers call the countdown to Christmas, marking shopping days left. I prefer to dwell on the purpose we celebrate on December 25 which leads into the time for celebrating the end and start of another year gone by. Often we take this time to reflect and reexamine our lives, maybe making a resolution to stop something unhealthy and become more healthful-minded. The latter might happen as a result of indulging too much in the good food everywhere we turn, including our own kitchens, especially with the sweets we love during this time.

We might resolve to exercise more, lose that extra weight, volunteer, study harder, spend more time with family or friends and more.

Whatever we resolve, or not, it is a time to start fresh with a new year. We see depictions of Old Man Time with a flowing beard passing the New Year to a baby representing the new months ahead. He ages fast, eh?

When I look back at my 6-plus decades, I wish I had been more present in the moments and not always pushing for the future. I see our grandchildren growing taller, smarter, and more talented than us (thanks be to God), and hope they will learn from our experiences and be more aware of the everyday blessings surrounding them.

My 92-year old mother has the right idea. She says this year she is reversing her age making her a mere 29. She said she can do this every decade for the first four years meaning I’m only 36 this year. Ah, to have this experience and a more youthful physique. How often have you heard or said, “If I knew then what I know now…”

My wise mother comes in again to tell me that as we age we have more time to reflect yet time seems to move much faster. “When we’re young, we are raising families and working just trying to get it all done each day before collapsing into slumber (unless we have a sleepless baby).”

Whether you read digital or analog clocks matters not. It’s how you spend the time that counts.

 

 

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Music unlocks many emotions

Day by day
Music unlocks many emotions
By LIZ THOMPSON
ThisWeekNews.com
Tuesday October 7, 2014

When I was invited to a hymn sing at an assisted living home, I asked, “What hymns are you singing?” and was thrilled with the answer.

The list included what I call old, familiar songs such as Amazing Grace, When We All Get to Heaven, Love Lifted Me and a childhood favorite, This Little Light of Mine.

I was also glad I would be sitting with the residents and not leading the singing. My singing voice went south in my mid-40s when I was almost deaf, a condition that happened gradually since childhood.

Music and singing was my fervent hobby, and I often led singing at such places while playing my guitar. I had missed it and realized this particular day that, in part, I had been missing the contact with people who love visitors and music.

After two successful cochlear implants, I had hoped for restoration of my ability to grasp music, but it didn’t quite happen as I hoped.

I can understand most vocalists’ words — if they actually enunciate and sing, not what appears to be screaming into a microphone — but new music melodies are like a foreign language and quite flat.

Am I sad about that? At first I was, but my restored ability to understand speech and sounds with clarity superseded any sadness. Going from deaf to understanding about 95 percent is nothing to sniff at and I’m thankful beyond measure.

Back to music.

To my joy, 40-plus years of music are stored in my brain, and heart I believe, as music memory. If I see the words and get the first note of a song, or have the music to read, I get it and can sing.

My voice is no longer one for performing but I don’t mind singing at home or in groups. When my grandchildren were small, nothing stopped me from singing to them as I know I was sung to by my mother and grandmothers.

I can still hear the beat so my foot taps, hands clap and my soul is soothed.

Remember the show Name That Tune? Often I knew the tunes in two to five notes. So you can understand my music memory is full of good songs such as hymns, music from the 1930s (thanks to my parents) through the early 1990s that includes folk songs, show tunes, camp songs, pop, big band, songs I composed and more.
It’s a true blessing and I’m glad my brain has a lot of good information stored for easy access when needed. I don’t even need to select an app to get at it. I only need to think of a song or hear a familiar tune.

After my recent column on memory, a reader, Dana, told me about a movie that was, at the time, showing at the Drexel Theatre called, Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory .

To my chagrin, I didn’t move fast enough to attend and it has moved on to another city. Looking on the website, musicandmemory.org, I learned that music has proven to reach people with Alzheimer’s.

Not a surprise. Many memories are locked inside all of us and we need something to turn the key. In the case of music, it often unlocks memories and emotions for me.

When at the hymn sing, a woman in her 90s held up her forefinger and waved it back and forth when we sang This Little Light of Mine. I joined her in the motion and smiled remembering doing that as a child and when I taught my children the song.

Music can bring tears to my eyes from the message or a melancholy memory often marking the passing of time in my life.

After my first implant, my audiologist told me about HOPE Notes. According to the program’s website, http://hope.cochlearamericas.com/listening-tools, it is a “program uniquely developed for cochlear implant and hearing aid users designed to help improve music perception and appreciation using original songs, traditional folk, blues and country styles and some familiar tunes played in unexpected ways.”

Using both visual and auditory cues, it reminded me of how I heard music, and it improved my ability to enjoy it more.

The man who developed the program is a musician with cochlear implants. So often, adversity brings a gift and he shared his gift with others in a similar situation.

Next time you sway to a familiar tune, “count your blessings, name them one by one …”

Health is a gift…

Day by Day
Health is a gift that should be appreciated
By Liz Thompson
ThisWeekNews.com
Wednesday July 16, 2014

Accidents happen. Life can change in the blink of an eye.

“Health and where you live is important because you need to know what you can control. Because pretty much everything else is out of (your) control,” said Brad Eldridge.

“I just want to be an average guy. Be a taxpayer.”

He said his aspirations are to serve people.

As a lay counselor for the Vineyard Church, he does just that. He knows firsthand about challenges.

“As a counselor, I see fighting about differences. Everyone has a human history that has far more similarities than differences,” Eldridge said.

In the early 1990s during a fraternity initiation at Otterbein College, the pledges were told to dive across the mud. Eldridge was a competitive diver and did a traditional tuck of his head and dove.

His life changed in a moment. He became quadriplegic.

Now 42, he has learned to adapt to a world that’s not built for him. Years ago, he moved to Creative Living near Ohio State University in a space that is built for him.

Eldridge considers himself a minimalist.

When he thinks of the beautiful buildings on the Otterbein and Ohio State campuses, he cringes to think of changing that architecture for a ramp.

“I never had the ‘take me through the front door’ mentality; it never made sense to me. I don’t care if I go in the back door (if the access ramp is there), just get me in the door.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in July, 24 years ago. Among other things, the act required buildings to be more accessible for people using wheelchairs.

“People tend to be insecure and get angry. I don’t get angry. Frustrated, yes — but I don’t waste energy on anger,” Eldridge said.

The last 18 months, he has seen life from his bed instead of his wheelchair while dealing with cancer treatments and pressure sores. Pain is a constant companion.

“I have to rise above the pain. I don’t want it to regulate my life,” Eldridge said. “I ran cross country and that’s about keeping pain at bay. So I was prepared long ago for this. I’m not real sure how I’m able to deal with this, but I just am.”
His faith challenges and sustains him. He doesn’t want to sit on the bench while other lives go on.

“I decided I’m done with this (focusing on pain) and have to move on. Get busy however I can.”
Science offers hope for people with paralysis.

Neurobridge inventor and project lead Chad Bouton of Battelle says, “Indeed, there is hope with science. I’ve spent my career at Battelle specifically because our organization was created with the charter of using science to benefit humanity. It’s something we still take seriously today and it’s something that is personally important to me.

“When I started working almost 10 years ago in the area of neurotechnology, I knew the possibilities could change the world. Today, with my team, we are still working as hard as we can to bring that to reality. We have a long way to go, but certainly we’ve made a lot of progress and hope one day our Neurobridge technology can help people living with paralysis every day.”

Ian Burkhart, 23, of Dublin, was the first to receive the Neurobridge, and with the intricate technology was able to move his fingers for the first time since he dove into a sandbar four years ago and became quadriplegic. Even though there is no personal benefit to him at this point, being part of this groundbreaking procedure was an honor.

The doctors and researchers kept Burkhart completely in the loop throughout the process. He said he knew that technology would come along, but he couldn’t sit around and wait for it. Eldridge was grateful someone took on the challenge — both Battelle researchers and Burkhart.

“This is how it is right now and I make the best of it,” Burkhart said. “Having the right attitude affects everyone.”
A former lacrosse player at Dublin Jerome High School, Burkhart now coaches boys lacrosse at his alma mater.

“It is often said that you don’t appreciate what you have until it is gone. Many people forget that their health is the most precious gift they have,” said chiropractor Peter Feldkamp.

At the end of the day, Burkhart and Eldridge agree that who you are as an individual is not just the body, it’s so much more. They are living proof.

 

Remembering Ruth Jividen

Day by Day

Remembering Ruth Jividen
By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014

There’s no timeline to friendship.

One friend came into my life in 2007.

Ann Reynolds hosted our Sawyer Drive Ladies’ Gathering, surprising us with a special guest who lived around the corner. Ann said she was a special lady she had known since childhood.

“She went to school with my mother and aunts. As an adult, I really got to know her,” Ann said.

When this guest started talking, I asked for a pen and paper. I wanted to share her stories with others.

After this day, we met often. She talked, I wrote. I read it to her, she edited. I submitted. Together we wrote eight “Ruth Remembers” columns, which were published here from 2007 to 2011.

Her stories were a hit in our little ‘burb.

You likely have read much about Ruth Sawyer Jividen, her homestead that was sold to the city weeks before her April 14 death, and the closing of Beulah Park, which was named after one of her aunts.

Much history of our small town is linked to her family. After all, she was the last direct descendent of Hugh Grant, the man who cut down the first tree and built the first cabin here.

So why write more, and why should you read more about Ruth?

Ruth was more than the history she knew so well and lived for close to 99 years. She was an example to the following generations and had messages to share. All you had to do was ask her. Ruth could tell a story about growing up in Grove City with remarkable clarity and detail, remembering names, dates and places.

“She used to know the names of every family in Grove City,” Ann said. “She enjoyed talking to people more than talking about her.”

At her memorial service at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Pastor Don Allman said she was not stuck in the past but understood how the past shapes us.

“Ruth moved forward with the times, building on her foundation of faith and her experiences,” he said.

She was ready to meet her maker.

“Why am I still here?” she asked me weeks before her death. I reminded her that God knows the number of our days and we had to trust him. When we sang Precious Lord, Take My Hand at her memorial service, I knew that is exactly what Jesus did when she left this earthly life.

When she was 95 1/2  (she made sure I included the 1/2), I asked if she would write a letter to Jesus for my book. I’m glad I had a pen and paper handy because she took one breath and said, “Yes, dear Jesus … ” and shared her thoughts.

Once again, she talked, I wrote. I read it to her and she said, “You got the good stuff.”

“That sounds like Ruth,” Esta Fields said when I told her the story. “She was the sweetest little thing I ever knew. We could talk about anything. I just loved her.”

History connected them. They met five years ago when Harrisburg United Methodist Church was having its 200th anniversary, where people dressed in period costumes. Esta and her sister, JoAnn Freeman, borrowed bonnets from Ruth, but Esta first met her when returning them.

They became fast friends.

“We hit it off right away. When her health failed a few years ago, I stayed with her till her strength returned. I was glad to do that,” she said.

Esta was modest about the many ways she helped Ruth.

Ruth’s many friends in town readily lent her a helping hand, returning years of her generosity.

Don Yors, a lifetime resident, started working for Ruth’s first husband, Lem Seymour, doing odd jobs at age 13. He knew Ruth for more than 62 years and said she always made him feel like part of the family.

“She did a lot for me, was generous and always met me with a hug,” Don said. “She and Lem had a Swap Shop in the old blacksmith shop. I worked there, too.”

Don became a master welder and blacksmithed as a hobby. He was making a rose for Ruth out of pewter. He was going to give it to her, but they didn’t connect. It was placed in her casket.

Ruth kept copious notes, and I found a eulogy reading, in part: “If my parting has left a void, then fill it with remembering joy.”

Ruth touched many lives and will be missed, as her life becomes part of the Grove City history she loved to share.

218

Ruth Sawyer Jividen, 2012 when she was honored at the Civic Women’s Club of Grove City, Ohio.

 

Life experiences mold our identity

Day by day

Life experiences  mold our identity

By LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEKNEWS
Tuesday February 18, 2014

No person is just one thing.

Recently, I was remembering some of the last words Mike Tikson said to me the day before he died.

“You were never just a secretary, Liz.”

I had been his secretary at Battelle from 1978-1987. We had stayed in touch over the years, but his final words continue to stick with me.

We all wear many hats throughout our lives. Sometimes the hats I wore didn’t fit well and I discarded them. At times, the hat was so unique I didn’t quite know if it fit. But I hope I’ll always remain a wife, mother, stepmother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor and a Christian.

Those are roles, not jobs, I’m aware. Through my life I have been student; waitress; cafeteria worker; shoe salesperson (one thing Mike and I had in common, and he was a retired Air Force colonel); receiving clerk; secretary to researchers, engineers, doctors, nurses, social workers and computer technicians; and I have worked in administration of medical databases (before Windows), as a reporter and lastly as a teacher’s assistant for children with special needs.

Some jobs taught me integrity in the workplace; some gave me great on-the-job training, while others were riddled with problems that led to amusing war stories to tell, especially to young people just starting out. Having realistic expectations is a good thing, and aspiring to improve in the job is one of the best things we can learn.

But in all those jobs, I was never just one thing, and I wasn’t the job itself.

Those roles and jobs, along with other life experiences I’ve had over the years, developed who I am today. The day-to-day routines that were typical with the positions, the people I met, the new challenges I faced and the goofs I inevitably made were all part of the whole.

So when he said I was never just a secretary, he meant that the other roles in my life spilled into my daily work. Being a secretary was how I earned a living. But with his guidance, I learned more than how to greet people, type reports and organize meetings and the like.

When I first came to him with a problem, he listened. Then he gave me a life lesson I would use many times over.

“What do you think we should do about this?” I wasn’t sure. No one had ever asked me to offer a solution. For that matter, my opinion had never been sought out. It felt good but was also unnerving.

He went on to say that I should try to think of a solution and bring it to him to consider, even if we didn’t use the idea. I did as he asked and we used my idea.

I learned to detect and present problems, yes, but also think of at least one solution. That tidbit has served me well in all aspects of my life.

Over the years, I have reinvented myself, you might say. Circumstance required it with my diminishing ability to hear and experience in jobs that required it. I had two years of college under my belt, but one year in music and the other in special education didn’t find me jobs.

About 13 years ago, about the same time my hearing was restored with my first cochlear implant, I learned about experiential studies through Ohio University. I applied, was accepted and spent a few years documenting my experience, which turned into college credit.

I gained more than 50 college credit hours from that effort and years of varied life experience. Had I not met the challenge of trying new things, this education might not have happened. I like to think my determination to reinvent myself was a positive outcome of going deaf. My appreciation of hearing again is never ending.

The news is littered with stories about the jobless rate, unemployment compensation and letters to the editor with comments on both sides of the subject. The jobs are there if those seeking employment are willing to reinvent themselves or realize they are not just one thing. Taking a job “beneath” their qualifications might be a hard sell to the potential employer. They tell you that you are overqualified.

Maybe then a potential employee might say, “But I’m not just one thing and I want to work.” Then when the door opens, walk through and don’t disappoint.

Then we prove our worth. It’s not an easy walk but we don’t strengthen without effort.

Priority lists…

Day by day

Priority lists good for life as well as chores

by Liz Thompson
THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Tuesday January 21, 2014

Each new day is a gift. As years pass, seemingly faster every year, I become more aware of this reality. I try to start my days with a prayer that I’ll use my time wisely.

In the 1980s, I took a time management class at my workplace. My most valuable takeaway was to make daily to-do lists and prioritize them. The goal was to end our day with a lot of the tasks crossed off.

Years passed and I became a true list maker: grocery, daily to-do, what to pack for a trip, Christmas cards and gifts, and even books I’d read. Sometimes when the day is through and I read my list(s), I add accomplishments completed I hadn’t planned on and cross them off, too.

The last 10 days of December, my daily devotional book was about priorities. The author took each letter of the word, discussing what should be foremost in our lives. I realized that I don’t often list my life’s priorities; they are in my head and heart. This is not the popular bucket list or New Year’s resolutions I speak of, but what uses my time and talents and what fills my heart and mind. The order shifts with life circumstance, with many being constant.

Recently, I was reminded of a visual illustration. You have an empty jar — any size, you choose. You fill it with various small marbles or pea gravel. The jar is mostly full. Then you realize you still have some larger stones you need to put in the jar, but they won’t fit.

Start over and put the larger stones in the jar first. Then sprinkle the small gravel on top; these stones shift around and settle into the cracks and crevices. Some empty spaces remain. The jar represents our day, or life, and the large stones are our first priorities; the smaller stones are minor events. If those don’t all fit in our jar, or life, we’ve only missed out on something of lesser consequence.

Keep in mind that the small joys are no less important.

I asked some friends what their priorities are at this point in their lives. The answers have a common thread, partly because my friends and I are of a certain age.

Don Huiner, of Columbus, wants to become a better, active listener and talk less. “You know me well enough to know that’s not going to be a walk in the park for me,” he said.

Irveline, from Columbus, says her priority for this year is to teach her grandchildren, ages 2 to 20, Dutch and Welsh, which is their ancestors’ mother tongue.

“My priority for the year will be to say it like it is,” says Linda Sturm of Gahanna. “Procrastinator is a pretty word for sloth. I’m not procrastinating when I put something off; I’m being a sloth. By being honest with myself, dropping the window dressing, I hope to be more productive.”

Clay Cormany of Worthington says, “For me the ‘t’ in priorities stands out with t standing for time and a wiser, more productive and less self-centered use of it. That means more time spent playing with my grandchildren and seeing the world through their eyes; more time spent showing my love and devotion to my wife; more time visiting my 90-year-old aunt, who’s my last living link to my parents’ generation; and less time playing computer word games.”

“I want to spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren while they’re young, and my children,” says Judy Hannigan of Grove City. She hopes to start visiting people in assisted living and spend time with shut-ins, like she used to, because they may not see others very often.

My daughter, Mary, wants to be more like the biblical Mary and less of a Martha. See Luke 10:38-42 for the story about Mary listening attentively when Jesus was their guest while her sister, Martha, was busy working.

Elizabeth, my granddaughter, wants to make God’s purpose for her life her highest priority.

If we put these and similar long-term priorities in our jar first — and probably keep them there to remind us — we’ll have room for the small surprises. We’ll still have empty spaces of time open for contemplation, recreation and rest.

No matter what we place in our jars, Zig Ziglar sums up time management well: “Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either, ‘I wish I had,’ or ‘I’m glad I did.’ “

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time
by Liz Thompson
ThisWeekNews
September 26, 2013

We must be born with a desire to communicate. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. The first thing we do is open our mouths and cry – loudly. Maybe we’re saying “Put me back!” but here we are ready to let Mom and Dad know in no uncertain terms we have arrived in this noisy world.

Parents learn to know what their baby needs by the intensity of the cry. Since communication is a two-way deal, babies learn by the parent’s intonation what they mean as well. As the child grows, they love being read to from colorful books leading to the love of the written word. Books become a part of our lives; teaching and entertaining.

We want to communicate from our barest needs to our deepest thoughts.

Imagine, though, you have no written language, only spoken. No books, magazines, pamphlets, closed captioning or subtitles, notes passed among friends, newspapers, email or EBooks, greeting cards, Internet… no need to search further.

Keep imagining as we count our blessings.

In 1917, a young man, William Cameron Townsend, set out as a missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians in Guatemala. While trying to sell Spanish translated Bibles to these Indians, “…he discovered that the majority of the people he met did not understand Spanish. Neither did they have a written form of their own beautiful language, the Cakchiquel,” according to the Wycliffe website.

He didn’t give up. Instead, he lived among the people learning their language while developing an alphabet for them.

Within 10 years, he had translated the New Testament portion of the Bible in that language. By 1934, he was aware of other cultures without a written language and opened Camp Wycliffe in Arkansas to train people in linguistics and translation. By 1942, the camp had “grown into two affiliate organizations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.”

The history of Wycliffe Bible translation goes back to 1382 when John Wycliffe translated an English Bible—“the first complete European translation done in nearly 1,000 years.” I encourage you to read this history on Wycliffe.org.

According to Wycliffe, there are more than 6,800 world languages and fewer than 2,000 of those languages are without a written Bible translation. That equates to 209 million people where translation projects have not yet begun.

Stephen and Rachel Katterenrich have been in Tanzania for more than two years developing a written language in the oral language of Bungu, as part of Wycliffe. The process has been ongoing for almost 10 years. Rachel studied language in college and Stephen the Bible. “We have melded our talents,” Rachel said.

This next year Stephen will be studying the Greek language.

Their first four months were spent learning Swahili. “We had some fun blunders along the way,” Rachel said. “Like when I was trying to say someone was a patient (in a hospital) and I was actually saying they were patient (in behavior).”

Stephen said that he can understand the language easier than he can speak it, so far. In time he hopes that changes.

In English, one word can have several meanings and may be spelled the same but the meaning changes with different emphasis. The simple word “oh” which can mean “Oh, right!” as in an aha moment or “Oh!” as in surprise or “Ohhhhh” when dragged out like “Oh, I see!”

In Bungu, the emphasis and the spelling are different in many words. The written word needs to read like it sounds. It’s a complicated and tedious process. The villagers are eager and taking active roles to help make the written language happen.

Just as Townsend worked with the people to learn their language, Stephen and Rachel are living and working with the villagers to learn their language, hear their stories and translate them into writing by creating a data base. It is what they call a cluster project with other people working on their language projects and sharing resources.

The villagers are grateful to Stephen and Rachel. When the Katterenrich’s left to come to the States for a year, they were lovingly reminded that they would return to them. One day, in the not too distant future, they will celebrate with Bible translation being complete.

It matters not where we are born or what language we speak, communicating is vital. It’s comforting to know there are those willing to make sure all people have a written language.

One person and one word at a time.