Cold and hungry..

asouthernmother
January 24, 2013

I was walking my french bulldog Escobar this morning, I shivered and thought to myself this is too cold!  I thought about all the kids standing out waiting on their school buses, my friends and old co-workers at the University of Kentucky hospital who have a long walk in the mornings, and anyone else who had to walk their dog.  I gave myself a quick reality check, I really have no idea what it is like to be truly cold.  I have been cold by choice but never from lack of necessity.  Most of us never know what it is like to be truly cold or hungry.

Escobar and I, such a spoiled puppy

 The coldest I have ever been was running the Maysville Tough Mudder in October.  My teeth chattered and I covered my hands in mud to keep them warm.  There were others treated for hypothermia that day but we all made the choice to be there.  When have you been cold that you didn’t have access to a blanket, adequate shoes, clothing, or heat?  What about hunger?  When was the last time you were truly hungry?  I don’t mean stomach growling hungry, but instead when your stomach aches in pain from days without adequate food.  There are children and families within your own community, state, our wonderful nation, and across the world that go without basic necessities.
 

I was laughing in an attempt to keep from freezing following a dip in the arctic enema at the Tough Mudder

I am as guilty as the next with having more than I need.   I tend to focus on wants instead of true needs. There are shelters in need of lots of things that are laying around our homes.  You can donate your old coats, shoes, and clothing to various local organizations that can distribute to those in need.  They are often also in need of towels and bedding.

Clean out your pantry before things expire.  While I was living in Bogota, Colombia, I got to see first hand what hunger looked like.  People digging through the trash set out at night looking for food that wasn’t too spoiled to eat.  The thought of wasting food while others went hungry truly sickened me.  Few people have seen the heartbreak of looking out your window and watching someone plunder through rubbish looking for food.  There is enough food in this world wasted that no one should ever go hungry.

There are so many organization on the local, national, and international level that focus on poverty.  Recently an organization called RESULTS was brought to my attention.  They focus on poverty within the home front and abroad.  Food banks, shelters, and community centers are often a very good local start.

You might not be able to change the world but you could change someone else’s life.  I hope todays post inspired a little good and made you rethink about ever complaining about being cold or hungry.

XOXO

Jessica

People you admire..

asouthernmother
January 23, 2013

I saw a post on twitter earlier asking who you admired and why.  I occasionally get amused at some of the responses.  The response is often something similar to asking a 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up… There is one person I admire above others.  She never had a drivers license, carried a paddle with her everywhere she went, never traveled out of the country and rarely out of the state, she was known to be stubborn and contrary, but she was one of the wisest, kindest, and loving women I have ever been blessed to know.  Her name was Rose Garland Cole and she was my great grandmother.                                                                                                                                                

She was born on September 26, 1911 to Perry and Ida Townsley Garland.  She had several siblings who were equally talented and amazing, three brothers James, Beckham, and Charles Garland, and one sister Etta Garland Bargo.  If I am correct all of the siblings attended and graduated from college, several of them working in education.  My great grandmother graduated from Union College in 1933.  Amazing, huh?  Most women weren’t even dreaming of college in that era.  I would have loved to have known and befriended her back then, I can only imagine what a feisty and spitfire woman she was.  She started work at a very small school in Cole’s Branch, Kentucky which is in rural Southeastern Kentucky.  She met and eventually married my great grandfather, Delmar Cole.  They had two handsome sons Earl and Freddie, along with a daughter Ruby Lenore who died shortly after birth.   She continued teaching following the birth of her sons, working their modest farm, and being very active in their local church.

She walked to school most mornings, and impacted countless lives in our small town.  One morning while walking to school she was struck by a drunk driver and thrown into a ditch.  It fractured both of her femurs, did significant damage to her knees, and nearly crippled her.  She never gave up.  Her injuries would have been hard to overcome with modern medicine, and she survived this many years ago.  She eventually required bilateral knee replacements, and the constant use of a brace and walker to get around.  Even after the death of my great grandfather, she lived and managed their farm alone.  I can remember as a small child helping her work in the garden, can tomatoes for the cellar, canning jam, or making her famous peanut butter fudge.  I can also remember having a brush or two with her infamous paddle.  I have been approached by many of her former students who told tales of how they encountered the same paddle many years before me.  
Dewitt School 1950-51
She taught me about life, sewing, hard work, love, and education.  When I had to be home schooled because I was in a wheelchair, she taught me multiplication tables and made me french fries.  We worked on quilting and made my senior Halloween costume, Alice in Wonderland.  She encouraged me to travel and see the world that she never got to see.  She loved me unconditionally and never missed an opportunity to remind me of that.  I am a better person because I knew her.  
The summer after my freshman year of college I was staying with her.  She lived in a small white farmhouse just past the Dewitt bridge. The house had no central heating, so we relied on air conditioners and heaters to manage summer and winter. One year, the A/C system broke so I had to find someone that offered Air Conditioning Repair before the house overheated. I was so worried about her, especially in winter. Her house was always so cold. Luckily that summer the A/C was fixed really quickly, but I was still worried about her. The last memory I had of her was telling me goodnight and closing the curtain to her room. My Mamaw Cole was a creature of habit, much like I am now.  She was always up, sitting in her chair at about 6 am, prepared to watch everyone leave for the day.  I got up at about 7am to use to the restroom, I never realized her chair was empty or the erie silence in the house until I sat down.  My heart began to race with panic.  I screamed her name and ran through the house.  My world came to a screeching halt.  I found her eyes wide open, laid halfway off her bed, unable to move or call for help.  She had a massive stroke.  I have always questioned if she tried calling for help and I couldn’t hear her for the air conditioning.  I laid sobbing at her bedside until the ambulance arrived to pick her up.  There wasn’t anything that could be done other than wait on nature to take its course.  On September 11, 2001 while the nation was mourning an incredible loss, I mourned the most incredible loss of my life.  

Mrs. Rose Garland Cole with one of her many school classes 
I wish that everyone could have someone like her to admire.  She was incredible in every way and the world was a better place because she lived.  She was my great grandmother, but she was also one of my closest friends and biggest supporter.  I have spent too long focusing on how I failed her instead of how I could please her.  I hope she is proud of the woman I am, and she knows that every day I am trying to be better than the day before.  Her life is a testament to never giving up and overcoming whatever obstacles may be thrown her way.  She stood out in a crowd and was well ahead of her time. She is my inspiration, and I still miss and think of her daily over 10 years later.  
Who do you admire and why?  We should choose those people carefully.  Don’t raise your children to admire star athletes or movie stars.  Teach them the meaning of a real hero, or better yet show them with your own actions and deeds. 
XOXO
~Jessica 

A Testament of Hope

asouthernmother
January 21, 2013

I am sure Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrating today, we have made incredible steps toward equality since his murder.  Every U.S. citizen should be celebrating our freedom today.  He gave his life so that others could have equal rights and freedoms, he was a martyr for his cause.  I think U.S. citizens regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, etc. often fail to recognize how lucky we are compared to citizens of many other countries.  We have freedoms that many people still only dream about.  When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech, do you think he fathomed we would get this far?

There is a quote, “I am better than I was yesterday but not as good as I will be tomorrow.”

The United States has made steady improvements toward equality but there is still work to be done.  There is a large sector of the U.S. that is socioeconomically disadvantaged regardless of race or ethnicity.  Poverty is heartbreaking.  We should all do our part to help others.  You may not have money to donate but why can’t you donate your time?  There are countless ways to help.  If you want a few ideas, volunteer with your local Habitat for Humanity, drop off items you are no longer using to a local charity, volunteer at a food bank, or organize a dinner at your local Ronald McDonald House.  These are just a few ideas of how you could help make a difference in the life of someone else, while setting an example for others to follow.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our nation is a much better place thanks to his courage and innovation.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 
 Martin Luther King Jr.

XOXO
~Jessica

It’s never too late…

I think I have spent most of my life focusing on how things were suppose to go instead of letting them progress as they should.  I have actually spent the last few years of my life focusing on what I “should” have done instead of realizing how far I have came.  Every decision I have ever made has led me to where I am now and I have been given some incredible opportunities recently.  I am wholeheartedly excited to be joining the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life team and working on vaccination advocacy.  My journey has just begun with them, and I have already met some incredible and inspirational women.  I am counting the days til I get to join in them in Washington, D.C.  I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for my friends from Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club who encouraged me to apply and the women at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in D.C. for choosing me.  There are days that I look at some of the bio’s of other women, and I am so grateful for being chosen.  I think this journey could open some new doors for me and I hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams.  We may not see it in the moment, but the timing is always perfect.

One important thing we all should remember is dream big!  We should surround ourselves with other individuals who dream big, people that drive and inspire us.  A few years ago I walked into a the Beaumont Centre Clubhouse to my first meeting with the Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club and it changed my life.  I had always loved community service and helping others, but these women inspired me.  I am so grateful for the women I meet through the organization and I am so proud to be part of such a wonderful group.  My sponsor was Beth Cramer, and even after she moved away I still keep in touch.  I gained a best friend who I adore more like a sister, Brittney Wells and her lovely momma too! I wouldn’t have made it through the months following my brothers death if it wasn’t for Brittney, Lauren, and Renae.  I could never truly express the gratitude and love I have for the women of the club.  If you read my blog and live in the Lexington, Kentucky area, come join us for a meeting!  Santa’s Shoppers, Habitat for Humanity, the Ronald McDonald House of Lexington, the Children’s Advocacy Center, and Bluegrass Domestic Violence are just a few of the many organizations that have benefited from the hard work of those involved in the club.  If you don’t live in Lexington, check out the General Federation of Women’s Clubs website and find a club in your area!  Change begins with you!

Hope everyone had a blessed and peaceful Sunday!

XOXO

~Jess

What should you be afraid of?

asouthernmother
January 20, 2013

This quote stood out to me because I have problems with fear.  I can be overwhelmingly fearful of the silliest things.  You should fear things are are actually physically dangerous, but why be afraid of the future or how we feel?  I have a fear of trusting people, and it chronically sabotages my relationships with others.  I also have a fear of failure.  I am often afraid of trying new things because I fear of failing at them.  We can choose to not let fear hold us back.


Tears of joy

asouthernmother
January 17, 2013

So if your reading this blog to get to know me, then you have to get to know my son Gabriel. He is the purest light in a world full of darkness. He saved me from a deep despair and he was Gods promise I would be okay. I was already having a rough spring in the May of 2009. I took a job at the University of Kentucky in January. It was demanding but I had great co-workers and I learned a great deal about diagnostic laboratory medicine. My husband who had returned from a tour in Iraq several months before was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP). I’ll save that story for another post too. He underwent medical treatment but it failed. His physician suggested a course of a chemotherapy drug called Rituxan. We were counseled that not only could Rituxan make you sterile, it was teratogenic. If Arturo and I wanted to get pregnant, it had to happen immediately. We had one month to try before his treatments began. The week following his first treatment my brother was murdered. Two days later I took a pregnancy test that was negative and I had double devastation. In one week my brother was murdered and there was a significant chance that my husband and I would never have children. It was rough the weeks following. I sat watching them fill Arturo with poison, I grieved over my brother, and I wasn’t having a baby… Or so I thought! I didn’t want to drag myself out of bed, I was always sick and exhausted. I assumed the overwhelming stress of everything was getting the best of me. I reluctantly made an appointment to see my physician. I knew the first thing they would ask was if I could be pregnant. I decided to prevent any embarrassment I would take another pregnancy test as a precaution….I cried the first tears of joy in weeks. It was a miracle.

Beginning today…

asouthernmother
January 16, 2013

I hope everyone will read that message and really think about it.  If you have ever lost a loved one suddenly, you will can better understand it.  My brother and I were in different states when he passed away.  I sometimes wonder how other people treated him the last weeks, days, hours, and minutes before he died.  Sadly I know he died alone, lying in a pool of his own blood, after begging for help.  Every person that we cross paths with, we have no clue when their life will end.  What if you were the last smile or the last frown someone ever saw?  How would you want your loved ones treated?  We all have bad days but need to recognize how we influence others.  I don’t always feel like smiling but I would rather be the last happy face someone saw than the grimmest.  Has anyone ever randomly done anything for you that changed your day?  What if you could do that for someone else?  How different would this world be?  If we all set out in the morning to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, no matter how small.  I could be grim and pessimistic, but I refuse to let the act of one evil person negatively change the outcome of my life.  If I let him make me scared or angry, he wins.  My brothers life and his death would be in vain.  Instead I try to live positively, helping others with an open and kind heart.  I ask each of you to do something simple today to help someone else.  Don’t do it for me, do it for my brother and his memory, and others that have been lost to evil and violence.  Smile my dear friends, today is going to be a great day!

XOXO
Jessica