Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christine McFadden, Who Had To Learn To Be Inspired To Survive

I've been trying to watch a lot of the Oprah Lifeclass series, that's been on during the past month (Oct. - Nov., 2011). For the uninitiated, they have taken pieces of various past guests from the Oprah show that go along a common theme. One of the more recent episodes was about learning from painful emotional experiences and featured Christine McFadden, who went for her daily early morning walk, to discover on her return home that her troubled ex-husband had come to the house while she was out walking and murdered all four of her children, and then took his own life. At the time of her children's death, Christine was a successful veterinarian. Her 3 oldest children were successful and well-liked  high school students. Her youngest child, which was the only child by the ex-husband that committed the murders, was a lovable 5 year old. There was nothing about this that made sense on any level. This episode features Christine being interviewed at different stages thru the years, as she moves from someone just holding herself together, eventually coming to some terms with it, but still thinking there's no future for her, until a final interview in recent years when she has (surprisingly to her) fallen in love again, remarried, and had twins. One of the quotes I especially loved came from the Dalai Lama, "It's worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty." It was brought out in the lifeclass episode that one of the factors that helped Christine McFadden overcome her deep grief, was the outpouring of thankful Oprah viewers that wrote in how Christine helped them survive their great grief. There were women that said they had thought about ending their own life after the death of a child, who realized they needed to not give up because of her encouragement. 
Oprah Interviews Christine McFadden -   'via Blog this'Various links to Christine McFadden at the Oprah site:

The Single Most Important Mindset Shift You Will Ever Make | Positive Thinking | GalTime

People can spend a lot of time and effort blaming everyone else for their problems. "If I hadn't....if I had only.....if that had never happened....sometimes they get so hung up on dissecting the past that they forget to make time for the present or truly work on their goals for the future. Then, to do further damage to their psyche, they allow themselves to become more damaged, rather than allowing themselves to move on. I first ran across this blog entry on the "Positively Positive" blog today and thought, if only more people could take this approach, not only their lives would be more productive, but society as a whole would be better. I remember years ago when I was in child welfare, sitting through some training where character disorders was discussed. I made the conscious decision that day that for the remaining time I had left to raise my children, that I was going to take the approach that I was going to teach them they were the only ones that could take responsibility for their own actions. I had so many run-ins with people that wanted to blame everyone else for their own behavior. I think this article really sums it up. Rather than taking you to the Positively Positive blog, I choose to link it back to the original post by Stephanie Zamora at GalTime, where the article was originally published: The Single Most Important Mindset Shift You Will Ever Make | Positive Thinking | GalTime:.  Just in case you also want to check out Positively Positive, here's a link to their site:  Both GalTime and Positively Positive have lots of interesting articles, so check them out.

'via Blog this'

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catching Up

I didn't realize how much I had fallen behind on writing here. I'm posting a link from my other blogs that will explain my absence. Hope to feel better soon. Really trying to change my eating habits in order to feel better and it seems to be working so far, although, it appears I will definitely have to have surgery. Oh well, I just want to feel better, so whatever it takes.

Catching Up

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old Advertising Fan
Remember when it was common to find fans sitting on the church pews before air conditioning was common? I thought someone might enjoy seeing this fan I found at an old junk store awhile back. They were usually made for advertising purposes, popular with funeral homes and politicians.     

Inspiring School Leader Makes Difference In Her Community

Raised in the projects, Sherrie Gahn's mother instilled hope & inspired her. When she became a principal at a school with a high population of homeless kids, she feared those children didn't have someone to inspire them to have hope and so she wanted to create a school environment where kids could grow up having hope for their future. We should all look beyond our front door to see how we can help others & be a more involved community member.

School helps students fend off bad times -

'via Blog this'

Labor Day Thoughts

My work ethic was inspired by my grandfather,F. L. Millwee.A truly remarkable man,he came to Indian Territory at age 6. Times were hard, housing would've been considered substandard. His mother died in childbirth while he was a boy. He lived to 102,sharing a rare agricultural vision. One accomplishment was the 1st electrical dairy in western Okla. Nothing was too hard for him. He was our family labor day model.  (note: I was so overwhelmingly busy the past couple of weeks that I'm just making sure I've updated my blog from my Facebook page.) Yes, I know, there's a way to get it all done in one whack, but I'm technologically challenged about how to do that at this point. I'll eventually get it all figured out.  

Change Is Coming, Like It Or Not

One of my favorite quotes for years has been, "The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." unknown source.

I think a lot of times people would really like for things to change in their personal life, but they don't follow through to develop new strategies in order to make them happen. When we want change, WE must change. If we want to lose weight, we have to change diet and exercise habits. If we want to make better grades, we have to change study habits. Some people may need to attend class more regularly. You get the gist. 

When I worked for a big agency, I remember at various times through the years we would have major change that no one ever asked for. Sometimes we would have this unrequested change almost overnight - although there were times there would be a major announcement that on a specific date such and such would hapen. Sometimes it was good, such as the time my agency entered the computer age and every employee got a computer on their desk. At the time, there were many people that didn't even know how to operate a computer. It was in the days before most households even had a computer. Classes had to be organized so everyone could learn how to operate a computer. We also had to learn the software system that was developed that was specific to our program. It was intensive, but worth it in the long run. I truly enjoyed that computer system and the changes it involved...the time involved, not so much. For an entire summer while the people with school related jobs were off doing their thing, my unit was working hundreds of hours of overtime converting everything we had on paper to a screen on a computer system.  It was worth it, because in the long run the system helped us save time, it had the potential to make children safer because we had so much more capabilities we had not had in the past.  We were able to determine the history of, for instance, a sex offender. As they say, "the possibilities were endless".  Oklahoma had the most sophisticated computerized child welfare system in America at that point.  It was the only time I ever received overtime pay at that job, our family used some of the money to replace our color TV that the screen was showing everything in various shades of green. So in the long run, I guess my family thought it was worth it.  

Not every change was as valuable or welcomed. Other changes came along that just seemed foolish, time wasting, or petty. There would be people that just couldn't deal with it. Sometimes they were the employees that I supervised and I had to hear all their complaints. I would tell them we didn't have any choice, it was either deal with it at the office or go somewhere else. But, one of the most important lessons I learned while I was persevering through all those changes, often unwanted, was that those who don't like change need to develop a strategy to deal with it or figure out a way to get off the bus.

This is life, change is going to happen whether we want it or not.  But expecting things to happen without change is, as the quote says, insanity.                  Elaine Bellamy

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In the past, today's date, August 26th, has had some very momentous occurrences that affected millions of people over the course of many years. In 1934, Adolf Hitler demanded France turn over their Saar region to Germany, just one of many actions setting the wheels in motion leading to WWII.  In 1944, after years of occupation, war and deprivations for his country and fellow citizens, DeGaulle was finally able to enter a free Paris, the day after it had been liberated.  In 1945, the Japanese were given surrender instructions on the U.S. battleship Missouri at the end of World War II.   Two decades later, in 1961, all crossing points into East Germany were formally closed from West Berlin citizens, following the culmination of the construction of the Berlin Wall, which had begun a couple of weeks earlier.  For the next 29 years, the Berlin Wall would divide not only a country and it's citizens, but also families. It would also lead to countless attempts at escape, close calls and numerous deaths.

Just think, none of this would have been necessary, if a few men in leadership had had positive childhoods in which they were able to fully internalize being a good useful citizen that learned to do good and to look out for his countrymen, instead of being responsible for the deaths of millions.  If only, they had embraced the lesson "plays well with others".  We may not always know what happens in the future to the lives of people whose lives we have touched.  But if we vow to make a positive difference in the lives of others, we can give up our worries and know we did our best.  

Children need parents, teachers, and adults that truly care about them.  They need positive reinforcement, nurturing, dreams, and goals.  We need to stop being a divided country and realize that all children deserve a good education and a starting foundation.  Because the world does not need any more Hitlers or Stalins.  Instead of worrying about who's red and who's blue, we need government leaders that "play well with others".  We ourselves need to "play well with others". And then maybe, just maybe, we can concentrate on the real business of living with inspiration. Just think what we could accomplish when we're not concentrating on what divides us. The possibilities are endless!            Elaine Bellamy

You Can Also Find Me On Facebook

My Inspired To Survive blog came to blog land much later than my other 2 blogs. I started Inspired on Facebook originally. I wanted to make it easy to find and join, so it has a very relaxed privacy, in case you'd rather to follow me there. At this time, there is more content on my Facebook page than this blog. I wasn't even going to do it as a blog, but sometime along the way I decided to go ahead and do it as a blog too, partially because, the fact is, not everyone does Facebook. Having 3 blogs gives me a way to organize my writing better. The Kid in My Heart is for my Family Relations & Child Development self. Children and families have been on my mind since before I went to high school. As a matter of fact, I knew by the age of 6 or 7 that I wanted to do something with children and families. I just didn't know the name of it until I was in the 7th grade, when I found out they called it Social Work. Although I am now retired from Social Work, let me tell you, I will probably never stop being a Social Worker. I just don't get paid for it anymore. All my Social Work these days is purely volunteer, mainly at the church we attend. I help with 2 different programs, a children's after-school ministry and a senior adult ministry. Over time, I want Kid in My Heart to cover all the bases in families and children. I just haven't finished establishing what all those bases are yet.

The Red Dirt Cowgirl Drives Again is to help me sort out the numerous experiences I've had in travel, food, and junk reclamation. Plus, I have an inner Home Economist that needs letting out on occasion. You see, Family Relations & Child Development happened to be in the College of Home Economics. I knew I wasn't cut out to be a cooking and sewing home ec teacher, but I do like cooking and sewing...sometimes. The reason I got interested in junk in the first place was because of home ec., but more on that later.  However, if you read Red Dirt Cowgirl today, you'll see that right now I've only focused on the travel and food. I only started it earlier this summer and haven't even started photographing any junk. I've been mainly thinking about road trips and food. Well, it is summer you know. Eventually, I'm going to finally get around to talking about junk, showing pictures of reclaimed get the idea.

Inspired To Survive is an idea that I probably started doing rough drafts and outlines as a book, as far back as 1998 or 99. My first notes were along the lines of writing it to encourage people to survive working in child welfare, which is where I worked for over 18 years of my professional life. At one point, I had even started pitching an idea to a woman who worked for the Child Welfare League of America, when I had the opportunity to go to a conference in Washington, D.C.  However, I came home from that conference to a hornet's nest of trouble. One of our sons had a friend that committed suicide and it seemed like for a long time, we were just trying to stay inspired to survive within our own household. When you're raising 3 kids, in addition to being responsible for supervising multiple employees and about 75 court cases with probably 100 children, you have a tendency to get distracted. Or, at least I did. Later on, I thought about expanding the concept to include professionals from other walks of life, such as teaching.  But, finally it came to me, people from all walks of life can use a little more encouragement and inspiration.

What inspired me to start Inspired To Survive on Facebook was due to some of the extreme negativity I encountered on Facebook. Now, don't get me wrong...there are a lot of things I like about Facebook. I just don't like the posts that some people are hung up on posting.  I can only take so much of "my headache is so bad this morning", "I wish I could feel better", "my job is driving me nuts". You get the idea. I also do not want to know every time you decide to fix Hamburger Helper for supper. I decided that Facebook needed some inspiration. Unfortunately, it's been a slow drive to nowhere. But, I'm not giving up and going away because I am truly inspired to survive and continue my message. I refuse to believe that no one wants to be inspired to make it in this crazy world, because I believe there are people that are searching for hope.

So, if you could use a little bit of uplifting in your life, I would appreciate if you would become a follower and also give feedback. I'd appreciate it if you would visit Kid in My Heart and Red Dirt Cowgirl Drives Again. There are links at the bottom of each home page or you can go to my profile which lists all of them.

All that is why I write what I do. I also write for the "exercise and discipline" of writing. And if you don't need inspiration to survive, maybe you have a friend that does. Tell them. Please. 

Monday, August 22, 2011


If there could be a theme song for inspiration, perhaps it would be the rock song by the group, Journey. Yes folks, I'm talking about "Don't Stop Believing". We've heard it on the radio, the whole song, bits and pieces on various TV shows and movies, here and there wherever we go. Its message of not giving up and catchy tune have led to it being the most downloaded song ever in the 20th century. When asked what they thought about being the most downloaded song, Jonathon Cain, one of the writers and group members said, "We did something right in the studio, we did something right when we wrote the song, we hit a chord."

It began with a germ of an idea of the keyboard player, Jonathon Cain. He said he was starving before he joined Journey, living in totally hard times, not knowing where his next pay-check was coming from. He was borrowing money from his father, who wouldn't let him come back home to Chicago. His father would always tell him to "stay there, something good is going to happen, don't stop believing". (I believe Cain may have been living in San Francisco at this time.)

Jonathon sat down one afternoon with a catchy chorus based on his father's advice, along with Neil Schon, the group's guitarist and Steve Perry, Journey's then lead singer and that same afternoon they had come up with what would become the rock and roll classic, "Don't Stop Believing". The rest is as they say, history. In 1981 when the song was released, it barely broke into the top ten. However, it's surpassed anything else on the billboard list with it that year.

Several times since, the band has broken up, going into hiatus or hibernation, which is usually a death knoll song for your group. But, thanks to this song the journey was not over for Journey. The group has gone through a variety of incarnations, one of the most interesting their current one. Since 2007, the band's lead singer has been Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who became homeless after his mother's death. Arnel was discovered through YouTube, and replaced retired lead singer, Steve Perry. Arnel feels like the theme of "Don't Stop Believing" became his mantra to succeed. He has used his success with the band to give back to the underprivileged youth of his home country and formed a foundation to help with their health care, education, and advocacy.

So the next time you hear this song, you'll know the story behind it. The next time you want to give up, whether you've been encouraged or not - think of Jonathon Cain, who could have hitchhiked back to Chicago instead of writing what would become the most downloaded song or Arnel Pineda, who could have remained homeless instead of posting a video on YouTube that lead to success as a lead singer in a band. Our lives are filled with examples all around us of people who never gave up. Live the life God created you for. Don't give up. Don't stop believing there is something better for you.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Turning Inconvenience Into Opportunity

Perhaps you are like me and preoccupied by the excessive heat and exceptional drought of this summer of 2011. There are times that I am guilty of just forcing myself to do what I absolutely have to. This afternoon was one of those days. After I finished cooking the Friday lunch for the Sr. Adult's group at church, I decided to go ahead and run to the next town and complete some of my "once a month" errands that I do there. Next week we're having Vacation Bible School, so I needed to get my "first of the month" chores done by the end of the month. As I prepared to drive home, for some reason, I had a sudden, passing thought about the victims of the Holocaust during World War II, as well as other groups who have suffered from horrendous crimes throughout history. The sweltering heat had led to my having thoughts of questioning why life has to be so hard at times...then I jumped in my car with its refrigerated air-conditioning as I prepared to go home to simple luxuries, such as my microwave oven and all the ice I wanted in my glass of lemonade. We not only have food to eat, houses to live in, permission to worship and come and go as we please, and basically, no one telling us we have to go live in inhuman conditions under constant threat of death and annihilation. I thought of the long ago cattle cars on the rails of Europe, that people were loaded into with a few hastily gathered possessions and what it would be like to look at your children sitting in the train beside you, wondering if any of you were going to live thru that horrible time. I'm reminded as well, of the on-going suffering of today's refugees in today's world. There are too many to make a quick list, I would leave someone important out. So, turn this time of inconvenience into an opportunity to remind yourself that "I can do this. I am inspired to make it through hard times. I am supposed to be here, God has a plan for me. I am inspired to survive for other days, because I want to continue this race, otherwise known as my life."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another Story Of One Who Was Inspired To Survive

Before Candid Camera...before America's Funniest Home Video's...paving the way was Art Linkletter's House Party TV show. Every summer afternoon my sisters and I were home as little girls, we loved to watch him interview children on his show. During the 1950's he became a daytime television staple. Little children from around the Los Angeles area were chosen to appear in special segments every day called Kids Say The Darndest Things. I'm sure some were natural born talkers who would say anything, others were probably the one the teacher most needed a break from. What we got in exchange was hilarious, refreshingly honest television, as children said whatever came off the tops of their heads as he interviewed them. It's estimated he interviewed 23,000 children over the 27 years of the show. 

Looking back into the past of Art's early life, it's amazing he achieved what he did. Started off on a rocky path when he was abandoned by his parents in infancy, he was adopted by a minister and his wife. He came of age in the Great Depression of the 1930's. With no jobs available, he took to riding the rails and doing odd jobs around the USA. Eventually, he found a way to go to college. After college he had the opportunity to work in radio, which he said "paid better than the teaching" that he was educated for. Radio led to movies and eventually, a new industry called television. He had all the characteristics of a great talk show host: quick thinking, good in front of an audience, a sense of humor, and a great inteviewing skills - the roots of his skills could probably be traced back to the years he rode the rails as a young man.  The most beloved part of every show was when he interviewed the young children that would say ANYTHING on nationwide television. These television episodes led to multiple books with collections of the childrens' sayings. 

Art and his wife enjoyed one of the longest lasting celebrity marriages of all times - 74 years! After his daughter Diane died a tragic death, he used much of his remaining years to advocate against drug use. Art Linkletter exemplifies being a person inspired to survive sucessfully in spite of a rocky start in life and tragic family events.


"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." John Ruskin

There is no substitute for life experiences, putting one foot in front of the other one, day after day, year after year. It changes us, like the fire changes the molten steel. No, we didn't want that house fire, that diagnosis, that loss...but we can learn to work through it, cope, and survive regardless. Eventually we are able to look back and say, I made it when I wasn't sure I could and I'm a better person for having had the experience. Social scientists have researched the difference between the youth who make it and those that don't. One common trait of those who survive successfully is resilience.

Words Of Encouragement From Audrey Hepburn

And now a few words from one of my favorite 1960's movie star, Audrey Hepburn. "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible'." 

Many do not realize what struggles Audrey Hepburn had during her child and teen years. She grew up in Europe in the Nazi occupied country, The Netherlands. Her admired slim beauty was actually a result of the nutritional deprivation she experienced during her formative years. They had to live on so little food during the war, that later when she was able eat properly her body would not process the food correctly and allow her to gain weight. In her later years, she became an avid humanitarian for the refugees around the world, because she knew too well what it was like to live as a child in a war torn country.  She remembered being so hungry they made flour from tulip bulbs to make bread. Doesn't seem possible does it?

The Influence of One Man

146 years ago this past April,  Abraham Lincoln died from the assassination attempt from the night before. We would be hard pressed to think of a single American who did more for his country. He achieved much in the time he had on earth. He did not allow himself to be held back from achieving a good life because he was born in a 1 room cabin and only received 18 months of formal schooling. He had to read law books on his own because he couldn't afford to go to law school. He became a successful lawyer who even argued a case before the Supreme Court. Considered a gifted orator and debator, he started out in the political arena by getting elected as a state representative. His debates with Stephen Douglas in the 1858 U.S. Senate race are still considered the outstanding political debates of all time, although Douglas defeated him in that electoral race. Two years later he received the nomination to run for U.S. President, which as we all know, he won, becoming the 16th President. He would go on to change the course of this country for all times. All of us owe gratitude for Abraham Lincoln. Because of him, we took a stand in the world that slavery was wrong. Because of him, we started on the road for a better life for all mankind. Because of him, we have greater tolerance today. Do we live in a perfect place? Maybe not. But, I definately believe we live in a better place because the man that signed his name, A. Lincoln worked, lived, and died for his beliefs for his country.

Inspired To Make A Difference In The Life Of Others

Dave Pelzer is an adult survivor of child abuse.  He has written 7 books to encourage others. His first book, A Child Called It details experiences so horrific it is hard to imagine - much less read about. I do not see how he kept from becoming a monster. Instead, he grew up to educate others about child abuse and why it must not be allowed. I believe we must all make a conscious effort to improve life for children. His newest book is Moving Forward - Taking The Lead In Your Life.  If you want to read some inspiring words about one who is truly inspired to survive, check out Dave Pelzer's books.

What Inspires You To Survive?

When times get hard, some people are easily discouraged and give up at the drop of a hat. Others become more determined to dig in and make a go of it, no matter what they encounter. Which category do you plan to be in? Which category have you taught or are teaching your children to be a part of? I am reminded of a very moving scene in the movie, Schindler's List, that occured in a concentration camp when children who have been hidden from the Nazi's are being discovered. One child has such a strong desire to survive that he actually hides in the human excrement of a laterine. Unbelievable, I know. But that is an ultimate example of a strong will to survive. No matter what storms may come in life, we can take comfort that there will eventually be a better day, a better time. It may not be evident at the time we are struggling. There are times we just have to let our faith comfort and sustain us until it is easier to carry on. What has inspired you to survive?