Saturday, August 28, 2010

Elizabeth Willis Barrett---August 14, 2010

I carry around with me a pill case. Not just a one-a-day kind but a hefty plastic bin with seven compartments, one for each day of the week. In each day I could easily fit about 20 pills which I do on occasion. But I don’t take them all. It’s just that I want them in their place if I happen to need that certain element on that day. I don’t know how I even got so many pills in my possession. Mostly, I guess, I have purchased a bottle here or there at the suggestion of one friend or another.

For instance, I have Echinacea because Stacey swore that it will keep colds and flus away. I don’t think she takes it herself, however, because she seems to be sick quite often.

I have SAM-E because Marianne recommended it for depression and lack of well-being. I have St. John’s Wort for the same reason at the recommendation of Jessica. Nancy told me about a supplement that helps her joints move more easily so I, of course, purchased that, too. I even took it all and was going to buy more, but I can’t remember its name. I’ll have to ask Nancy.

Some very expensive vitamins from Canada I bought after Linda told me that it helped her drug-addicted nephew to get off drugs. I didn’t need them for myself but I know a charming drug addict that I wanted to help. I might start putting those in my pill box, too, since he isn’t interested in taking them.

Then I have Miralax that someone said was great for constipation and Benefiber that Kelli swears by for the same ailment. I always take vitamin B because Sandy says that it helps her be less irritable. I’m still a little on the irritable side, so maybe I’m taking the wrong kind of vitamin B.

Other pills I’ve bought because I read somewhere that they’d be beneficial to a body needing all the help it can get—primrose oil, flax seed oil , vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, glucosamine.

I have great faith in Lysine which is a must for the prevention of cold sores and canker sores and everyone knows that vitamin C can bring a cold to its knees.

I’ve added ginkgo biloba to my stash to hopefully guard against dementia. I am very concerned about coming to the end of my mind before my body gives out. It’s kind of like wanting your cake and ice cream to come out even. If you’re left with too much ice cream at the end, you have to get another smidgen of cake. And you definitely don’t want to be left with an extra bite of cake without some ice cream to enhance it. Similarly, you don’t want to get to the end of your body and be left with too much mind. And you certainly don’t want to get to the end of your mind way before you’re done with your body.

My mother, who never took anything but an occasional aspirin, ended up with way too much body after her mind was gone. On the other hand, my mother-in-law, who seems to be holding onto her mind and her body even though she is ninety, has taken a myriad of vitamins and minerals much of her life. Maybe they helped her. I’m banking on it.

I, of all people, know it isn’t wise to pop pills merely at the whim of a friend or two. And I know that some can work against you and become toxic if you aren’t wise (the pills, not the friends, necessarily). But I am counting on some of these supplements to live up to their reputations and make my life happier, healthier and hard-wearing. It’s worth a try.

While I’m at it, I think I’m going to add bladderwhack, ginseng, grape seed and kava kava. Black cohosh and valerian root are looking good, too. I’ve got room.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Basket Case
Elizabeth Willis Barrett 7-24-10

I always seem to be losing baskets—the kind with wheels at grocery stores. It is my habit to set my cart aside for a minute as I go down the soup aisle to grab a couple of cans of cream of chicken soup or something else as essential and at times I have to look for a minute before I can locate my shopping cart again. Once with great effort I filled a basket at Wal-Mart with a myriad of necessities, taking a long time to choose the exact sunscreen, B vitamins and office supplies. I was almost ready to check out when I decided to look over in the magazine section for a new Sudoku book. Not wanting to drag the cart into the cramped area, I left it against some display, looked at the puzzle magazines and then went to retrieve my basket—but it wasn’t there. Some days I can handle that kind of frustration fairly well but not that day. I was tired and had lots to get home for, so re-choosing and filling up the basket again was too daunting. Some over-achieving Wal-Mart Associate must have thought my cart was permanently abandoned and restocked the shelves with it. I went home without buying anything and left that particular shopping list for another outing.

The other day I had a similar experience but this time at Superstition Ranch Market. I was filling my basket with grapes and kiwi and strawberries and then a big seedless watermelon which I thought had a particularly nice sounding thump. Then I headed for the apples. I wanted to try some Braeburns since the Fujis seemed a little overpriced and found only three that looked acceptable. I put these in my cart along with four garlic bulbs. I parked my basket against the chilies so I could go down the onion and potato section unencumbered. Seeing a friend, I made a little small talk which really isn’t my specialty, but it was nice to catch up on her family. And after depositing four onions in a plastic bag, I went to my waiting cart. Much to my surprise, the cart that was waiting at the chilies was not my cart at all. Although the owner of the cart appeared to have part of my same shopping list—she too had chosen strawberries, garlic and apples—there were bananas and corn in this cart and there wasn’t a watermelon in it. I hadn’t even gotten to the bananas and corn in my shopping yet. It was odd that another shopper had chosen to park her basket by the chilies. Clearly this person had thought that my parked cart was hers and she had taken mine by mistake.

Not wanting to start shopping all over again, I walked through the store looking for someone who might look a little dazed and who was pushing a watermelon with the rest of her produce. No one fit that description. I was stymied. How had my cart disappeared so fast?

So I had a decision to make. Should I go home empty handed or should I start over? I didn’t come out to this market very often and nothing was too pressing at home at the moment so I made the sacrificial decision to start over.

Grabbing another basket with some indignation, I started again at the strawberries and grapes, chose another thump-worthy watermelon, ran into my friend for a second time and told her the exasperating story of how someone had stolen my cart. Then I headed toward the corn and peppers. Oddly, I saw the same cart parked by the chilies. That person must have had an emergency and had to leave the store without purchasing. Funny that the cart was in the same place I had left mine.

Dismissing any more thoughts about a wayward basket, I chose some peaches and mushrooms to put in my cart and turned the corner to the peppers and lettuce. Just as I chose a healthy head of iceberg, I looked up. There in front of the apples was a cart that held a watermelon, some grapes, some strawberries and some kiwis. It also appeared to be ownerless. Hmmmm. I walked down the aisle to the zucchini. Looking to the left I could still see the other unclaimed basket next to the chilies.

A not too pleasant realization was seeping into my previously offended brain. Could it be that it was my first basket there by the apples? Could it be that I had placed my apples into someone else’s rather full cart—full of bananas and corn and strawberries? Could it be that I had then taken that cart down an aisle or two adding tomatoes and garlic? And then could I have left that person’s cart with a few of my offerings on top in front of the chilies?

Could it be that when I grabbed the onions and went to put them in the basket that I finally noticed that the cart by the chilies didn’t have my watermelon in it but it did have the first owner’s corn and bananas?

Could it possibly be that before I was done shopping that day I had actually used three baskets? And that, in fact, I had taken some other very disgruntled shopper’s cart and used it for a few deposits of my own before parking it by the chilies?

At the check out line both stray baskets were in my line of vision. They were both definitely unspoken for. Somewhere that night would be an irritated produce customer telling her family about a crazy lady who had walked off with her cart.

What was I going to have to do from now on— carry a long piece of red yarn with me wherever I go to tie onto baskets that I might need to leave unattended for a while? Perhaps I could add a sign, too: “I’ll be right back, please don’t dis-assemble.” Besides saving me from future grief, maybe my own personal basket identification would save unsuspecting shoppers from having their well-stocked baskets taken away from them—by me, anyway.

I humbly placed my groceries on the checkout belt and paid without telling the clerk why at the end of the day Superstition Ranch Market would have two half-full grocery carts sitting there with no takers. I just didn’t feel emotionally strong enough to let her know that I was the basket case.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Part 3

Elizabeth Willis Barrett---June 16, 2010

(As I already said, I was having trouble with the alphabet. Maybe that’s why I left “F” off altogether. Here it is:)

It is really important to know your kids’ friends. It is also important to know your kids’ friends’ parents. And besides that, it’s very important to know your kids’ friends’ siblings. A popular older brother or sister could wreak a lot of havoc on a young, innocent friend.


Quarreling with a child is ridiculous, childish and ineffectual. Children quarreling with each other can sometimes be diminished by giving them opportunities to find common ground.

Your job is to help your children become responsible adults, people who can take care of themselves. The children you do the most for, it seems, are the ones who keep expecting you to do the most for them. Even the smallest children can be expected to do daily age-appropriate chores. Although it would be easier to do everything yourself rather than prod an uncooperative, whining child through his chore chart, the rewards will come eventually as his efforts become real contributions to the household and he truly becomes responsible.

Children need to feel like they own something before they can share it. It is best to acknowledge their ownership of a given toy and ask if they would like to share. Often they’ll feel OK about sharing if they are given the opportunity to do it on their own without coercion.

Children take time—lots and lots of time—no matter what age they are. You have to understand that and be ready for it. And children don’t move fast when you want them to because time isn’t an issue with them.
In addition, timing is everything. Well, at least vital. Kids are willing to have deep conversations only when they are ready. Trying to discuss things of importance on your time will get you nowhere. That means that when they are ready, you must be, too. When a child is really ready to talk to you, let other pressures go and be prepared to listen because, for most children, those times are few and priceless.
Also, it is better to point out things they might have done wrong at a less threatening time than the present and at a time when they might be more willing to listen to you.

Remembering what you felt like when you were your child’s age will give you more understanding about what he is thinking and feeling. A child needs to feel that you understand him.

Do everything you can to make your body and mind healthy and well. Parenting children takes a lot of energy and it is so much more enjoyable when you have a great sense of well-being.

Years ago I read a magazine article that said the most important four letter word for parents is WAIT. Instead of reacting or overreacting, just wait. You will be calmer, your child will usually be more compliant and the day’s events can continue without unnecessary drama.

I hate to be talked at, don’t you? It’s so easy to dismiss a child and his feelings that way. “Oh, you don’t really hate your brother. Now go wash up for dinner.” We all like to be talked with. It’s nice to know that someone is actually listening in earnest to what we have to say. Children feel the same. Listen to them. Look in their eyes and listen. When a child is upset, sometimes just knowing that he can express his feelings and actually be heard and understood helps dissipate his anger. Make it comfortable for him to talk to you about anything. Don’t condemn or criticize or he’ll take his concerns to someone else. Or he might suppress them, which would be worse.
Parents are known to go off on lecturing monologues, thinking that their uncommon wisdom will sink deep into the child and change his behavior forever. But when the lecture begins, a child’s ears quit listening and your talk is a waste of time and energy. Some things are better left unsaid. Pray to know when to open your mouth and when to keep it prudently shut.

Yield to your instincts. When my first child was being fussy one day, my well-meaning sister-in-law told me to just let him cry. So I did. He cried and cried and we soon found out that he had a strangulated hernia! He was only 3 weeks old. He was my baby. I should have listened to my own inner voice.

Become a zealot on your child’s behalf. Let him know that you will always be there to support and cheer him on—not just as one of the group but as his own magnificent, individual, and astounding self!

(So, there it is—my A-Z Mini Manual. Again, I’m not saying that I did all of these things but I wish I had done them and a whole lot more. Hope it helps somebody!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Elizabeth Willis Barrett June 16, 2010

(As usual, I'm better at telling others what to do than doing those things myself!)

Catch your children off guard. When milk gets spilled, laugh! When you are late for an appointment, tell a joke! When you are very uptight as I tend to be, humor is hard to come by. But a good laugh can put oil on troubled waters. Considering the terrible oil spill in the Gulf right at this moment, that is a lousy analogy. Suffice it to say that humor makes nearly everyone feel better.

Children need the opportunity to look their best: good hair cuts, clothes that are in style, clean and nice smelling bodies. They need to feel good about themselves and how they look. People treat well groomed children better because they appear to be cherished by their parents. I have a friend who is now in her 60’s. She still holds a little animosity towards her mother who didn’t think it was important for her daughter to have some of the latest fashions.

Find joy in the journey. You might as well. The alternative is frustration and irritability. The hectic, mad-house days with young children won’t last very long. When they are gone, those years will be missed.

Keep Your Promises
Be very careful what you promise or what your kids perceive as a promise. They will hold you to it and will think very unkindly of you if you break it.

We each need to be loved. We each need to feel treasured. It is vital to our well-being. In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages of Children he reminds us that we each express and receive love in different ways. You would do well to discover the love language each of your children prefers and lavish it on him daily. The rewards for loving are incomputable.

I see nothing wrong with a great bribe once in awhile. I certainly perform better with incentives, don’t you?

Never Play Favorites
You probably have your favorites from time to time depending on how each child is interacting with you at the moment, but it is imperative that that preference doesn’t show. I knew of a grandmother who would flutter over her blood grandchildren enormously and would treat her husband’s grandchildren like annoying and undesirable neighborhood children. Even though they all called her Grandma, the unfavored ones had no liking for her and some potentially precious relationships were lost. Children know when they are being slighted and they will hold it against you forever.

By your own example and words, a child can be helped to have a healthy, happy outlook on life and to see life as joyful and full of tremendous opportunity.

Praise works wonders. There will be great rewards when you look for things children are doing right and then praise them for it. If you tell a child that you’ve noticed that you can always count on him to come home on time, he will most likely keep coming home on time because he really wants to please you. If you tell others about your child’s good points and ignore his not so good qualities, you will reinforce in that child that he is wonderful and well worth knowing. Praise him for his ideas. They might not be the greatest yet, but your praise will keep the ideas coming and they might just get better.