The Big Red Barn

Grandpa's barn has long been torn down, this one was similar.
Grandpa’s barn has long been torn down, but this one was similar. My cousin Lee Ann and I have many memories in grandpa’s barn.

By Granny Eardley Jan 15, 2016

One of the special activities our grandchildren enjoy when they visit, and may remember when they’re grown, is picking the berries on the Serviceberry shrubs. Each year as the berries plump and ripen, and go from green to red to almost purple, they would rush to pick the berries before the birds ate them all. Seeing them excited to be in the yard, watching them enjoy the natural environment, will often cause me to reflect on being in my grandpa and grandma’s yard.

My grandma was sixty seven when I was born, older than I am now. We spent a lot of time with her and grandpa while we were growing up. When I was six we lived with them for over a year during mom and dad’s divorce. Their little plot of land was the main place I could have fun, and use my imagination. They had a few acres with a pasture that held horses, and a few cows grandpa would raise, then sell to the butcher for meat. One of the best memories I have of their land was the huge red barn. It gave me a place to play, and a place to learn about the natural world. A place to dream. Most of all that big red barn gave me a place to feel safe.

The barn was located at the end of a long dirt driveway. There weren’t any trees planted near the barn, but the smell of fresh grass,  flowers, and moist dirt, would help me feel happy. As I headed towards the barn, I would usually pass by the shed to the right. It needed to be inspected for anyone inside who may follow me into the barn.  Standing on my toes, peeking inside the dirty window, I could see if any others were close. My siblings, cousins, and I would often play in the barn together, but I also enjoyed the times I could be alone. Sometimes I just didn’t want any of them following me, especially my siblings. The solitude I felt during these times gave me the opportunity to dream of the future.

Once I knew the coast was clear, I moved on towards the large double front doors of the barn. Walking through the front doors would send me into near darkness. It usually would take a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the change in light. My lungs would expand and I would breathe in deeply that fresh scent of hay. Just inside the door was a wooden shelf where grandpa would store some of his tack and saddle. While I loved the smell of hay, I also loved the smell of old leather.  The older the better.

Mixed in among the tack and saddle was a lot of dust and spider webs. I didn’t mind. I didn’t enjoy running into a large web, but I do remember I loved watching a spider spin it’s web. I was curious how the spider could have that much web inside. Where did it come from? Would it ever run out of web? I didn’t know what it was called back then. I guess you could say that spider taught me patience, and patience was a virtue I had been told I needed to learn on more than one occasion. With everything that old big red barn gave to me, the most treasured memory, is the feeling of safety it provided. It was my “Safe Haven”. There was no hitting, no yelling, no abuse in that barn. Those old, sometimes broken walls, let me know everything would be alright.

After walking past the tack and spider web, going further into the barn, would bring me to it’s center. At this point, I could frequently see a few rays of the sun slipping through some of the slats of the wood siding. In the light from the sun I could see dust particles flickering about, pretending they were magic sparkles of light. Light that would grant me my wishes. To the left were horse stalls, and to the right the ladder to the loft.

The ladder consisted of rungs being attached to two posts going from the floor to the ceiling. Stepping up to the first rung was difficult for the small body of a six year old. As I moved to place my foot on that rung, my knee would come up almost to my chest. My arms would stretch high above my head for the next rung and pull me up. I would climb each rung carefully, and once reaching the top, fall backwards into the hay and straw.

Oh how I loved the straw. Even though at times it was scratchy against my skin, it was also soft and fluffy and would encircle my little body. I could almost disappear. I could hide. Laying in the straw, being still, I would look up at the ceiling of the barn and listen to the crickets. I would pay attention to my body. My heart would begin to slow down, my muscles would relax, and I would embrace that feeling of calm. My mind would wander, dreaming of  my future. Would I get married? How many babies would I have? Would I live in a mansion? Would I have a pony? The dreams of a little girl.

Now, here I am at sixty, again asking questions about my future.  How should I live the remainder of my life? How long will I even live? Should I leave a secure job I don’t enjoy to pursue another dream? With more practice, could I make it as a writer? In some small way have I already made an impact? Did I avoid many regrets?

See grandchildren, life really is that journey I kept talking about. It isn’t only the destination. We are never too old to question. Never too old to change directions. Never too old… Period!

And grandchildren, I have many more stories about that old big red barn and their land. I hope they don’t bore you, but instead give you a sense of connection to your history.

 

 

 

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Schizophrenia vs. Schizophrenic

Doug graduating getting his GED
Doug graduating getting his GED

THANK YOU GRANDCHILDREN

I would like to say thank you for accepting uncle Doug, and including him in our gatherings. Uncle Doug has a disease called schizophrenia. When you were small I’m sure you were not quite sure what to think about him. During the times he  is having more hallucinations he can be a little different, he would probably say even odd. Then he would chuckle. It doesn’t matter to you. You still show him respect, and you respond to him when he talks with you.

MENTAL ILLNESS STIGMA

The last few years have seen improvements in the area of mental illness. However, even with these improvements, there continues to be a stigma associated with having a major diagnosis. It’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis, but once a person has one, how do they decide to share with friends or loved ones?

Often, loved ones will be aware of a problem due to the symptoms a person has been experiencing. How does a person decide to inform their friends? If they tell friends, will these friends be supportive? Will they understand the significance of getting a diagnosis? Will they need education regarding the illness?

HOW TO TELL LOVED ONES

I would like to encourage anyone receiving a major diagnosis to not label yourself in terms of only that diagnosis. When talking with others close to you, remind them your illness is only one aspect of who you are. Your thoughts and language can have an impact on your coping strategies as you heal or stabilize.

LANGUAGE

An important aspect of language is being person centered. Referring to yourself as schizophrenic instead of a person who has schizophrenia can limit you to the possibilities you may have for your future. The same can be said for bi-polar and even diabetes. You are more than your illness.

It also would be helpful for professionals to think about the language used with patients. A person who is having a problem with high blood sugars should not be referred to as diabetic. They are a person with diabetes.

IDENTITY

When a person receives a major diagnosis it is often life changing. However, having the diagnosis does not change everything about that person, or who they are inside. Someone who develops a mental illness is still a son/daughter, a brother/sister, mother/father, or a friend. They may be an artist, a baker, a welder, a banker, or a homeless person on the street. They can still smile, they can still share laughter, they can still be kind, and they can still have hope.

So grandchildren I ask you to continue having understanding of people you meet who struggle with mental illness. Please remember it is only part of who they are. Remember uncle Doug.

For anyone who may be having a major illness, please be gentle with yourself. Please remember the illness is only part of who you are, not the totality of who you are. You will still be able to smile. You can still share laughter. You can still be kind. You can have hope.

http://www.nami.org National Alliance on Mental Illness

For anyone wanting to find out more about supporting loved ones who may have mental illness contact the above web site.

Folk Medicine With a Flashlight

 

A friend reminded me the other day of this experience. If you have a few moments I thought I would share it with you. Working in the medical field gives workers many funny stories to share. Often we will share these experiences, as well as some of our own amusing stories from long ago. This is one of my families maladies, and I must own it.

In today’s world when you have symptoms of illness or problems, and you’re not sure what to do for them, you are able to Google the symptoms and get a response. That was not the case 50 years ago. WebMD did not exist. We absolutely needed to see a doctor.

I can still remember our doctor coming to our house and making a house call. Do any of you remember house calls? His office was just around the corner from our house so he didn’t need to travel far. However, most of the time we would see him in his own office to receive his “wise medical advice”.

We lived in a small house, and my younger sister and I slept together. When she was about 3 or 4 years old, and I was about 7 or 8, our mom asked the doctor about a problem with my sister. One night our mom came into our room to check on my sister. “Because she has been scratching herself,” my mother explained.

I laid there watching as mom held a flashlight and pulled back the sheet. You have to admit, most 7 year olds would find that curious. Mom lifted up my sisters nightgown, and began to shine that flashlight on her backside. 😳😳My eyes must have been open wide because my mom tried to explain, “Dr. Mack said I needed to see if Becky had worms, and they usually come out at night when it’s dark”.

So I ask you, “Would you want to sleep with a sibling who may have worms?” I knew I didn’t. I am not able to remember how long it took, but I know at least a few days went by before I slept with her again.

I was sharing this experience one evening at a gathering of medical staff/coworkers. One person, I’m not quite sure which one, popped up saying,  “Did the worms have on their tuxedos, and were they dancing in the light?” The visual of that comment brought us to tears, we were laughing so hard. Oh how I loved those funny women.

So grandchildren I promise you, “I never have nor ever will use a flashlight and check you for worms. FLASHLIGHTS ARE FOR FLASHLIGHT TAG ONLY at our house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Front Yard Oasis

cropped-image.jpg

This is the front area of our yard. We decided we didn’t want to have grass, so we planted trees, shrubs, and flowers instead. Living in a desert in the west makes it important to conserve water. This type of landscape uses much less water than traditional landscapes of grass. Wouldn’t you enjoy sitting in the patio area to the left and having a cup of tea?

PEACEFUL EASY FEELING

The little tree on the left is a Redbud I started from a seed 10 years ago. Shows a little bit of optimism on my part, don’t you think? It’s one of my babies.  Most of our plantings are native or drought tolerant since we are living in the desert. The Redbud is not native nor drought tolerant, but we planted it close to the house so I can give it an extra drink when needed. My goal was to provide some shade for the patio, and I think this next year we will finally have some shade. This is my favorite place to sit in the early mornings during warmer weather. Sipping my tea, and watching the wildlife, gives me a “peaceful easy feeling”. I love The Eagles  (both the birds and the group)😍😍. The hummingbirds love the Agustache I planted, and are not too afraid of me now. The plants look a little wilted in this picture because winter has almost arrived. I often don’t prune things back until Spring.

National Wildlife Federation    www.nwf.org

Oh, and I forgot to tell you, our yard has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation  as a “Backyard Habitat”. We have tons of birds, bees, and butterflies. This year the quail seem to have taken over the backyard. One day we counted 32 wandering around. You would get a kick out of the little babies in the spring. You can get your yard certified too. It’s so easy to get the certification. Go to their website.

First time posting

Beginning To Blog

Social Worker /Grandchildren/Attachment/

Our family: TJ, Jenn, children: Caleb, Sienna, Jaidyn, and Kelsee. Fall 2015
Our family: TJ, Jenn, children: Caleb, Sienna, Jaidyn, and Kelsee. Fall 2015

Hi, my name is Carolyn. This is my first post and I am still feeling a bit apprehensive. I’ve had a few friends and past clients tell me I should start a blog. I wonder though, do I really have any information or thoughts others would like to know? I currently work as a clinical social worker with elderly, home bound veterans. I have also worked in hospice. However, most of my work has been with moms and young children working in the area of attachment and trauma. This work is my passion.

Lance and I a few years ago at a Christmas party.
Lance and I a few years ago at a Christmas party.

I have been with the same loveable, generous, goofy, sometimes picky (me too), sometimes irritating (me too), and usually supportive man for 35 years, my BFF. We have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law and 4 special grandchildren. You can tell with that information I am getting older. So, the name of this website “Life Is Grand With Granny”.

I also love to write. I have written a journal for about 45 years. My English professor tried to encourage me to change my major from social work to English, but I was too nervous. How would I be able to make a living writing. I thought I could be more helpful as a social worker. So I became a closet writer. Writing words for only my eyes to see. I’m hopeful writing this blog will help me become a better writer.

I am also technologically challenged. Wasn’t sure I would be able to figure it all out. After all, my phone is still a dumb phone. After researching and reading many other blogs, I thought “what the heck” I love reading and learning new things, so this will give me an opportunity to do both. It will also give me the chance to stimulate my brain (helps to prevent dementia, they say) and maybe meet some new friends along the way.

Trunk or Treat a few years ago. My favorite time of the year!!
Trunk or Treat a few years ago. My favorite time of the year!!

I am hoping to have this site be a place for me to record some reflections for my grandchildren. So they will know growing older can be rewarding and funny.  A place to share positive, encouraging, and humorous thoughts on the JOYS and FRUSTRATIONS of parenting, grand-parenting, and living a long life. If others find it helpful, it will be an added bonus. Once in a while I may write a more informational post on attachment, trauma, or grief and loss. After all, these are the experiences that make a life GRAND, isn’t it? It’s not about the destination, but the journey along the way.

Welcome, if you would like to leave a comment or question, please do so. I will attempt to reply within 48 hours.