Friday, June 29, 2012

Travelogue - North to Alaska

            Our vacation started just a month ago as I was scanning through my e-mail.  I’d been nagging my hubby for months to take a vacation.  His standard answer was that we couldn’t afford it.  On this particular day, Princess Cruises sent me an offer I couldn’t refuse for fourteen days in Alaska.  “Look honey!  We can’t stay home for that much.”

            He grumbled some more about tips, port fees and other hidden costs.  I showed him that we did indeed have sufficient funds in our savings account.  Eventually, he not only consented to take a cruise to Alaska he got quite excited about the whole adventure.  Thus, we set sail from chilly Vancouver BC for Alaska via the inside passage.

            Our first adventure began our first night at dinner when our tablemates were seated.  People who prefer open or anytime seating have no idea of what they are missing by passing up the opportunity to dine with several complete strangers every night for a week.  This has got to be one of my favorite parts of taking a cruise. This week’s tablemates did not disappoint.  We had two sisters traveling without their husbands.  They were delightful.  The other three people soared above and beyond a writer’s dreams for random people to meet on vacation.

            We were seated with two single men and one single woman, all three, attractive adults traveling alone.   I instantly recognized the potential for a romance writer.  My dinner companions met and exceeded my wildest dreams.

            Yes, both men instantly started striving to attract the young woman’s attention.  She commented that she might attend a certain party after dinner.  They both agreed they wanted nothing more than to attend the party.  She laughed at their jokes.  They were inspired to greater heights of comic wit.  She laughed all through dinner.  Her interests were their passions.

            When we went down to dinner on the third evening, the waiter seated me next to the young woman.  I recognized that it would be cramping her style to be seated next to me, the writer.  She solved the problem by getting up and changing chairs.  I thought she was a little weak as a romantic heroine if she couldn’t flirt with two men at the same time when an older woman was seated between her and the objects of her delight. 

            One afternoon when we met one of the men following her off to line dancing, I suspected that he had succeeded in capturing her affections exclusively for himself. Sure enough that evening, the victor proudly sat next to the young woman at dinner, whispering and giggling in her ear.  Alas, the vanquished sat next to me and carried on a discussion of the role shifting cultural norms have on the style in which stories are told.  I had to wonder if our romantic heroine was absolutely certain she’d made the best choice.

            I was sad to part company with our young friends when they left the ship for inland adventures.  They inspired me to focus my writing on a series of short stories about people I meet while traveling.  I would have to travel more than once every three for four years for that to be viable—such are the sacrifices of the writer pursuing the muse.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Life With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

One of the major misconceptions about drinking while pregnant is that the baby will outgrow the disability.  I asked some friends to be guest bloggers to tell their stories of life with their adult children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

Tabitha is a parent of a young man with FASD.  She is committed to helping others understand the severity of this disability and to supporting other parents struggling to raise children with FASD. - Delinda

Here is Tabitha's story:

Life has been a real challenge for our son.  He was diagnosed with FAE when he was 10 yrs. old.  FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) has impacted our son's life in so many ways.

         First his quality of life is compromised, he doesn't understand why he can't do the same things as other people such as playing school sports, having a social group of friends to hang out with, getting a job or a driver's license and most of all living independently in his own apartment.

He doesn't like having parents or others telling him what he can and can't do.  He wants the freedom to make his own choices, but doesn’t understand the consequences when he makes the wrong ones. 

He has struggled for 16 years in school trying to get an education and earn his diploma so he can get a good job after graduation.  He just graduated from high school. Other than having an aide for one year, which was a very much needed, he didn't receive any adaptations.

One of the most frustrating things for us is how inconsiderate people in our community are towards people with intellectual disabilities and how they make fun of them.  People take advantage of my son because they know they can get away with it. It's heartbreaking to see how persons with FASD are treated as an outcast in our society.

Our son has been on heavy medications to try and control his hyperactivity, short attention span, and his moodiness. Now we have learned that he has been given the wrong medications for a mood disorder that has been overlooked for years.  Since he started on the right medication, his future looks much brighter.

I can't predict realistically what his future is going to be like at this point. I don’t like to think that far ahead.  We are used to taking things one day at a time, especially since he became involved in the justice system a year ago, which is another challenge parents would rather not have to face.

I really doubt that our son will be able to live on his own.  He will always need someone to guide him through life and help him make the right choices—someone to make sure he gets to work on time, and picks him up. He needs guidance to keep him away from the people who are bad influences on him because he doesn't have the ability to say no or to understand when someone appears to be his friend that they are just taking advantage of him because he is disabled. He makes friends easily but friendships don’t last.  He can't understand why certain people have hurt him by laughing at him behind his back or why others steal from him.

There is no way to know how much society really spends on our son since it's very difficult to get state services for him.  Our community doesn't offer any services or activities for someone like him. As I see it, we as his parents spend much more on him than other parents do with their children, but this is one issue that needs a major change for us because he is an adult.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Cancer Survivor's Journal - Guest Post with Sandra Humphrey

Perhaps I should start a Cancer Patient’s Journal series.  We are all supposed to write one.  My cancer journal turned into an eight-hundred page love story.  Today my guest blogger Sandra Humphrey writes about her cancer journal turning into a litany of praise.  Enjoy - Delinda

Brief Bio:
Sandra McLeod Humphrey is a retired clinical psychologist, a character education consultant, and an award-winning author of eight middle-grade and young adult books.  She's also the recipient of the National Character Education Center's Award for Exemplary Leadership in Ethics Education (2000) and the 2005 Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children's Literature. You can learn more about her books by visiting her Web site  at

A Season for Everything

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

            When I found out I had breast cancer, my immediate response was--I’ve got to begin a cancer journal!

            With over thirty years experience as a clinical psychologist and my last few years as a writer, all my psychological and literary juices came bubbling to the surface, and I knew I wanted to--no, make that I had to--journal.

            And I knew exactly what kind of journal it would be. It would be a “psychological” journal relating my cancer journey from the viewpoint of a psychologist. A very sophisticated journal!

            I was more surprised than anyone when my journal turned out to be something quite different--an intimate dialogue with God, thanking Him for all my many blessings along the way.

            The first entry in my journal was a thank you for the gift of family when our ten-year-old granddaughter Johanna volunteered to journal along with me. I loved the idea of our journaling together, she from her perspective and me from my mine. And I looked forward to her companionship along the way.

            After the official diagnosis, everything moved very quickly. Surgery in less than a week and again I wrote a thank you in my journal. A thank you for the gift of so many friends who took the time to send wonderful uplifting cards and notes.

            Next came a thank you for the gift of caring professionals who treat the spirit as well as the body. All the members of my treatment team, from the surgeon and oncologist to the lab technicians, were always upbeat and optimistic, yet very professional and dedicated.

            My chemotherapy began a month after the surgery and it was time for another thank you. I was so glad the chemo would be during the spring and summer when things were bright and beautiful rather than during the more gloomy winter months. I thanked God for the gift of His perfect timing. 

            Even when I was too tired to write or too nauseated to read, God kept me busy thinking. Just as one writing endeavor neared completion, He made sure there was another one on the horizon waiting for me.

            Knowing how tired I was of the nausea and the “blahs,” He introduced me to The Heroes & Dreams Foundation which supplies character education materials to elementary schools all over the country. They had seen my website and asked me to be their consultant and official writer. What an unexpected bonanza and time for another thank you. A thank you for the gift of new endeavors and wonderful people who gave me all the time I needed to “get well” before expecting anything from me.
            It was unsettling, to say the least, as my hair began to fall out during the chemotherapy--kind of like losing a body part. I had no idea my hair was so gray until I saw it sitting there in the wastebasket. I decided it was time to make the dreaded appointment to get my head shaved, so that I’d feel that I and not the cancer was in control. And I thanked Him for the gift of courage when I needed it most.

            Next came the turbans and the wig. When our Great Dane MAC saw my wig on the styrofoam head in my study, he let out a menacing guttural growl, backed out of the room on his tippy-toes, and flew down the stairs like something was after him. We all laughed until it hurt and it felt so good to laugh. And I sent up a thank you for the gift of laughter which helped me keep everything else in perspective.

            After the nausea and the “blahs” (not to mention the heart damage and the two weeks in the hospital getting blood transfusions) from the chemotherapy, the radiation was a piece of cake.  I could finally see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel!

            As I finished my journal, it was time to review the past year. There were so many things to be grateful for. Small things like my hair growing in curly after the chemo (alas, the curls are now long gone) and big things like the gift of restored health. This was not a journey I would have chosen, but it is a journey I will always cherish and never forget!