Be strong and Courageous!
With an attitude of gratitude,
Be strong and Courageous!
With an attitude of gratitude,
The smoke had created a form of depression in my mind isolating me once again in my life. My thoughts on repeat wondering when will this all be over? Will it be over?
My eyes burned, my throat was sore and my breathing which is already at a limited function since my accident 40 years ago became ever more difficult.
Those things weren’t bringing me down the most. It was something else. My freedom is found in the outdoors. But it was the one place I could not go. I could not go to my flowers that were covered in ash. I could not roll along my garden which was being chocked in smoke. My grass, trees or even the ability to clean it all up was all out of bounds to me.
This doomsday feeling continued for seven days straight inside my heart and outside my windows. Not only in my town but up and down the Western US.
Alive, breathing and with a loving person I went to bed each night feeling guilty for my despair when I knew there were others out there who had lost everything including loved ones.
I was safely sheltered in my bed on the eve of September 18. When I woke up the following day to start my morning routine I yelled, “LOOK! You can see the sky!”.
Big puffy white clouds.
Beautiful blue tone sky.
It was a miracle, but I did not feel empowered by the gift.
I was still sad.
The smoke in my mind and heart had not dissipated.
I was struggling to find my gratefulness.
Looking for a distraction I asked Alexa to play one of my favorite podcasts, “The Daily”. A story came on by Bianca Giaever who had been working on the west coast when the fires broke out.
One morning during the fires Bianca had awoken with the phrase “an Obituary to the land” in her head so she had asked her friend and poet, Terry Tempest Williams, to write about it. In the episode, Terry reads part of her poem.
She compassionately speaks about fires, the earth, life loss and how humans have become the kings of the universe unaware and disconnected to all living things around us.
“The obituary will be short. The time came and they died to the old ways of being. Good riddance. It was time. A terminal disease. Where humans put themselves in the center of the universe and in so doing have been dead to the world that is alive.”
Her words struck a chord. We forget about the force of the trees, the ecosystem that is keeping us alive and how nature nourishes us and feeds not only our body, but our souls. It is all going on in and around us but we continue to neglect it.
Do we not see it, or did we get so busy that we have become detached and forgot about it? We are constantly worried about our futures, living in our pasts and neglecting our present. Or like me. When is this smoke going to end? When can life go back to normal for me? My yard is so messed up. When will I be able to go back outside to tend to it?
See, I hadn’t given my main thoughts and heart to the forests. It then started to rain but not outside as we’d all been praying for. It was the tears streaming down my face. It was a part of me out there burning up. A part of you. If we are not building up and giving back to fill the earth with love and respect, we become stuck in a cloud of depression.
I was washed clean by the opening of the sky but my friend nature was dying and I wasn’t there. Not out of lack of caring, but lack of getting out of my own head. My own space.
The forests are a part of me. It is where I roamed. I grew up in the Northwest small-town of Brownsville. I spent most of my time in the forest. Climbing those trees. Playing in those streams. Watching those wild animals.
I am created by bits and pieces and memories of those places. I love the forest and now my friend was on fire. I must have known because even though I wasn’t consciously thinking about it I was feeling that emotional distraught.
I had let go. Burst into tears crying like a little child. Even my caregiver could not console me. No one knew, including myself, that the heartache the depression the feelings I had were because my friend was yelling, screaming……. dying.
I had missed the calling. I grieved the entire day and still do for the loss. We are all so busy on our technology. Lost in that center of self.
The forest is my happy place. When I go there it is my escape and I’ve always felt empowered by the mighty trees. How the world inside of that forest can seem to handle anything. Can sooth anything. Can restore anything.
As Terry reminds us may we raise a fist full of ash in celebrating the life that once was and is now lost. In your hand is the memories of birds, trees, living peaceful creatures like our hummingbirds and butterflies. Frogs, flowers, ferns a baby deer, a chipmunk. Whispering there in that handful of ash are the memories of destroyed photos from the wall of a cabin, trinkets, a secret place of solitude, books that were written years ago passed down by family and friends and small town businesses where towns people started their days for generations.
Now that the smoke is cleared, and although we know fires still are burning let the largest fire that remain be the ones inside of us. The ones that keep us rejoicing for waking up every day. The one that reminds us of the forests that still stand with their tenacity, resilience, and determination to regrow. Just as we regrow through our trials. Stronger.
Let’s thank God most the earth still remains for us to take a step back and remember what we are most thankful for. Let’s start being distracted in nature not from nature. Go plant a tree, clean up some trash in a local woodland. Social distance with some friends while you do it. Rebalance yourselves so that you can be there best for the earth and your community. So that you can remember what is truly important.
I’ll leave you with some final words from An Obituary to the Land by Terry Tempest Williams:
“Grief is love. How can we hold this grief without holding each other?”
With an attitude of gratitude,
Ron Heagy Jr.
On Father’s Day I reflect back on my own dad and tell you a story from my life that I will never forget.
A Christmas Note,
The first Christmas without my Grandmother in the world.
Grandma Heagy was not always physically present at our Christmas party but every year there was a HANDWRITTEN card sent our way. I’m talking half a page of good grandma gratitude.
Just the thought around Christmas knowing that card would be in the mail inspired me. Seeing my name penned by my grandmother’s hand on the envelope and knowing she took the time to write a unique message just to me warmed my soul. Grandma’s always know how to make us feel special, don’t they?
The last thing I told my grandma face to face was how much of an inspiration she had been to me. I made sure she knew that I loved her and the impact her life had on mine. Although, I didn’t know that would be the last thing I said to her, I knew the time was coming close.
It was good that I shared a verbal I LOVE YOU because the next time I sat in her room she was no longer conscience. I reminisced out loud of all the wonderful times we had together. Although she wasn’t conscience, I want to believe that she was reminiscing right along with me. My advice to you is to say the words. When you love someone, tell them. Tell them today. You never know when that “last time” really is.
Recently was my grandmother, Ruth Heagy’s, celebration of life! I sat and listened to numerous testimonies about how individuals loved my grandma. Over and over they would talk about her smile lifting them up. Grandma’s smile was constant and bright.
At one point a lady stood and recalled her experiences as a student in high school. As a grown woman she ventured out to Grandma’s celebration of life to share how the lunch lady of 20 years inspired and encouraged her all those years ago.
When was the last time?
When was the last time I wrote a mouth written card? When did I take the time to write something about someone?
Even if your handwriting isn’t the greatest don’t let it stop you. Grandma herself would say her handwriting wasn’t the greatest but she didn’t let that bother her.
Life in general can feel chaotic, confusing and fast paced. Especially this time of the year. Let’s slow down. In fact, stop now. Let’s do a one-minute memory challenge:
Stop and think for one minute about a person in your life. 60 simple seconds. Just let all the memories bombard your mind. Think of them without allowing the negative thoughts to linger. Can you take 2 to 3 minutes and write those thoughts down? Can you do that daily? Or, a few times a week? What about sending that little note in the mail to that person? Can you make remembering and documenting your stories with your loved ones a regular practice? My Grandmother did and to this day it’s one of my most precious memories of her.
Here we are looking at 2020. My daughers will turn 15 and 20 years this next month. Roni is finishing her 2nd year at Grand Canyon university and Gracie is currently reminding me she is going to be driving soon. Both of my girls have been working hard to keep their grades up and achieve their individual goals. The start of their journeys out there in the chaotic and busy world. They will surly meet their bad days, but with the knowledge that their dad loves them and supports them as I too try to remember to share those happy and loving moments with them as often as possible.
My Christmas wish this year is that I would not be critical and to remember to smile each day. Even though I may not feel like it. I wish you all the same and may you see a joyous new year bring you inspiration and motivation.
If you’re looking to make an end of the year donation to help with the Never Give Up cause you can write a check or use this link (or go to rollonron.com donate tab). Feel free to give us a call! We’d love to chit chat about any ideas you have for public speaking venues or just to share some words with each other. Our office number is 541-926-1839. Please leave a message if we don’t answer and we will return your call as soon as possible.
Merry Christmas and a ho ho happy New Year!
With an attitude of gratitude,
I saw that with my grandma on her last night……
I rolled in there and saw her hanging on and fighting for each breath. Unconscious. I knew it wouldn’t be long. I wondered if I had said everything I wanted to say. I wondered if I told her just the right things before she was off this earth. Did I make enough time to spend with someone I loved so much?
All my memories are fond memories of my grandma. She was next to my mom to me. My truest deepest inspiration.
Grandma never gave up on me and always believed in me. Throughout the years she was there even if it was just a phone call away and boy did she love getting phone calls from me! We would talk for a long time about anything and everything. She would send letters to me and encourage me.
My earliest memories of my grandma were always of her smile and she had that smile even when she was sad. As a 5-year-old my mom would bring me over to my grandma to stay a night or two. I remember always looking forward to that time. I was her first-born grandchild. I can remember a little brown paper bag holding all my clothes inside. Grandma Ruth would write my name with a little smiley face under it. I loved to see my name written on that brown paper bag.
My grandma and grandpa made my time with them very pleasant. We played games like Yahtzee and Old Maid. We laughed a lot. She would let me go up and down the stairs. You know how kids love stairs! I got to slide down them on my bottom one step at a time. Grandma even gave me my own special place to sleep in their home.
Grandma Ruth was a great cook and always made fantastic meals! She used those skills to be a lunch lady at the local school. She would cook amazing pies for the family.
I spent the first few years of my life in Ashland Wisconsin. I remember going to church and traveling around the town of Ashland with grandma Ruth. Everyone knew her and I don’t think I ever heard her say one negative thing about anyone.
I love that little Methodist Church in Ashland. It had those big long wooden pews. She would help me follow along the hymnals. I’m not sure I was much of a singer. In fact, I’m still not, but it was wonderful to listen to Grandma’s singing voice.
I remember one time that I stayed with them I zipped my pants up after going to the bathroom only to catch the tip of my private in the zipper. It got pinched and stuck in the metal clasp! I screamed. I was paralyzed in fear not to move the zipper. Not to move anything. My grandma came running in and I was too embarrassed to tell her what was wrong, so I screamed to get Grandpa. Grandpa hurried in and on the count of three with my screaming tears he unzipped quickly and release the pain. My grandma asked me to come sit by her on the old green couch they had. She put my head in her lap, hugged and consoled me. After my tears dried, I asked her to never tell anybody what happened. She promised she wouldn’t say a word and to this day I don’t think she ever shared that story with anyone.
When I was six, I overheard my parents talking about moving to the other side of the United States. They were talking about a state called Oregon. I wasn’t sure how far away Oregon was from Wisconsin. The only concern I had was that I wanted to be able to still see my grandma.
My mother said, “Honey, you won’t be able to see your grandma for quite some time, but she’ll come visit and maybe we can come back.” I looked my mom straight in the eyes and told her that just wasn’t going to work for me.
I was sad that next day when I went to school. It was one of those types of days where there were no words anyone could say to put a smile on my face. We got to paint an art project on butcher paper which made me feel a little bit better. I carefully rolled it up and tied it with a string.
That night I got to see my grandma. I was super excited but equally sad to give her my work of art. As she unrolled it her face lit up which made me happy for the first time that day.
Grandma Ruth said, “It’s wonderful. How beautiful and so colorful, Ronnie. I will cherish this forever. But, why is the colorful clown crying?”
I answered, “Well, he’s sad because he must move away and not see his Grandma anymore. He won’t get to feel his Grandma’s hugs.”
Grandma Ruth told me that it’s not true and that we would see each other again and gave me a big hug. She told me that my dad earned a good job and she assured me that I would love the beautiful state of Oregon. I assured her that it wouldn’t be beautiful if I didn’t get to see her.
“I’ll tell you what, Ronnie,” grandma said. “I’ll hang this clown on the wall and every time I think of you I’ll say a little prayer that you’ll know I’m thinking of you. Know that I’ll be saying a lot of prayers because I’ll be thinking of you a lot!”
50 years later my grandma brought that painting to Oregon. What a wonderful surprise it was when gifted that picture back to me. It’s my most valued painting and by giving it back to me all those years later it inspired me to paint more than ever. I am now painting for the Mouth and Foot Painters Association where my art is used to produce greeting cards and other products all thanks to Grandma. That colorful crying clown is hanging right here next to my desk looking at me while I write these words. Thank you, Grandma, you kept your word. Just like always.
It was hard moving so far away. We did get to take family trips back to visit Wisconsin a few times. There are so many fond family memories I have from those road trips. But then when I was around 13 we got the call that Grandpa had cancer. The outlook wasn’t good.
Those were difficult times, but there was beauty to be found. Beauty in the way a loving woman cared not only for my Grandpa during his pancreatic cancer, but also the way she took care of the rest of us.
My grandpa was fading away. He was very skinny and frail. When he saw his kids and grandkids there you could see a sense of ease. On those final days he had the same look my grandma had just a few days ago when I told her I loved her. We gave each other a great big loving smile that shared the knowledge that the time was close.
Being the oldest grandchild, I was kind of the leader during that time. I felt confused about my grandpa dying. What kid truly understands death? But I did understand that laughter would help the younger ones. I did fun things with them like going sledding. I remember doing stupid things too. Like making my brother lick the frozen sign pole. Then I had a plan to build a snow cave. I had my brother go inside and I covered up the opening. The plan was that I would go get the cousins and when we got close he would bust through like a snow monster.
The problem with this plan was my cousins took forever to get outside! When I finally got them all out I saw his hands slashing back and forth. I thought he had blown the surprise, but the real problem was the snow cave collapsed and my brother was running out of air. I dug down just in time to grab an ice cube out of his mouth and throat. As soon as he was breathing, he started to scream. My mom, dad and grandma came running out and my brother told them I had tried to kill him, which wasn’t entirely true. I instantly knew I was in trouble when they took me down to the basement. My grandma shook me with all her might. It startled me because this was the first time my grandma had been ever angry with me. She yelled, “Your grandfather is dying and you’re trying to kill your brother. What is wrong with you?!” I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I’m just bad!” Grandma just hugged me tight once again instilling with her actions that love never ends
Years later that same brother pulled me out of the ocean with the same frantic breath of air that gives you life. Even though I buried him, on accident, I did save him. Then he saved me all those years later.
That day in the snow was my worst grandma experience, but my funniest memory was when she thought she could help lift me up with my mom. The idea was to transfer me from my chair to my bed. Sounds simple. So on the count of three my mom got under my armpits and grabbed my wrist and my grandma‘s job was to simply lift under my knees. While moving me to the bed grandma started to fart and farted literally all the way to the bed! The only thing she could say was “oh my, oh my….”. Mom started to laugh and we all lost balance. The three of us crashed together onto the bed laughing. I’m loving reliving that memory right now of my grandma and her little toot toot toot to the bed.
My grandma lived alone in her big house for many years. She never remarried. She took care of those in our community and then that call came that my aunt Barbie, her youngest daughter, had cancer. Another trip was made. I remember my aunt Barbie after she had half her tongue cut out. Thanks to grandma being there she recovered. The power of grandmas love and support once again.
My aunt Barbie wasn’t supposed to ever talk again. She ended up giving speeches to women and making a difference in so many lives. But the cancer came back. I again made a trip there. I couldn’t see my Aunt Barbie because where she was wasn’t in a place accessible with my wheelchair. Although she did tell me I was one of her greatest inspiration‘s. Her mother, my grandma, sat by her side as she slowly passed away. I remember thinking what an awful thing to deal with. The painful death grandma watched as her daughter passed slowly was eased as she was softly and lovingly cared for her.
When I broke my neck I didn’t know how my grandma would take the news. She wanted to come and see me but my parents encouraged her to wait until I got home. After we settled into our log cabin in Brownsville my grandma came for a visit. She looked so nervous not knowing what to say. Almost a ghostly white.
I said, “Well what are you waiting for come over here and give me a big hug! You’re my perfect height now at 4ft 11”! Now I don’t have to bend down to hug you and you don’t have to stand on your tippy toes to hug me! I’m still Ronnie don’t you forget it!”. She then broke into laughter.
She said, “I was so afraid that you’d be different, but I see you’re still as ornery as ever!”. I told her, “I have stayed that way thanks to you grandma.”
My grandma was my biggest inspiration. She used to tell me over and over for years, “you need to paint and give those speeches.” She was right and that’s what I’ve done now for years. And all those years she’s been right there with me.
Then in grandma’s 80s she had a fall. My uncles and dad went to move her out of that old three-story house. They brought her to Bend Oregon where she found a wonderful place called the Whispering Winds. She loved that little one bedroom apartment and so did we. At least three times a year we would travel down to see her.
On one trip I told her I was going to a desert not too far from her to race a car with the use of my teeth. I told her I was going to go 100 miles an hour! She laughed and without missing a beat said, “what if you crash and break your neck?”. I told her, “well then maybe I’ll walk again!”, I replied.
Although she was skeptical, she knew how rambunctious and determined I was. No one could stop me if I put my mind to something. With grandma’s never-wavering support she told me to go for it and to make sure I got good coverage so she could see it to believe it. Sure enough I did just that. As she watched her grandson drive a 68 Firebird 100 Miles an hour with his teeth all she could say was, “Oh my, oh my, oh my!”. Then she asked, “Roni, do me a favor and don’t ever do that again.”
Then that call came again. My uncle got cancer. What my grandma must have been feeling. Losing a husband, a daughter and then to have cancer back in her son. Grandma supported him and he supported her. When the time came that my uncle couldn’t care for her any longer due to the extent of his cancer and a small stroke that grandma had my Dad packed grandma up and moved her to his home. God bless Aunt Barb and Uncle Dave for taking such loving care of grandma all those years in Bend.
Up until a few nights ago that is where my grandma stayed. Lovingly being taken care of by my dad and Betty, my stepmom. It’s been so nice to have her near us. It gave us all a lot of precious time to build more memories together. For my daughters to be able to build even a strong bond with her.
Grandparents are amazing and I’m so grateful to have had mine. I’m even more grateful that my Grandma was able to be in my daughter’s lives. Grandma Ruth was a blessing to my girls, Roni and Gracie. Those three girls shared so much love.
As a woman that never wanted to be taken care of grandma would struggle at times. She tried to make her amazing pies and to do other things to help out and feel needed. I had asked my dad how he was feeling as he would take care of her. He was doing the full spectrum of caregiving. From helping her to the bathroom, to bed, to keeping her occupied and making sure her spirits were up. I joked with my grandma that she should be grateful for me because I taught dad everything he knows about being a good caregiver and now he’s taking care of her.
Three of my caregivers through the years have also helped with grandma. It was my part of giving back to my dad and grandma. Thank you caregivers who helped in those cherished ways.
My dad, my uncle, my aunt and Betty where there to assist in the process of grandma Ruth leaving. Our parents and family greet us as we come into this world, we should be there during the days that they are leaving it.
My grandma loves Jesus. She was a faithful friend of God. She enjoyed flowers, leaves, trees, birds and hummingbirds. She enjoyed God’s nature right up to the end. She had other people pick up leaves and things to bring to the house. I think I started that. My dad finally told me, “grandma doesn’t need any more leaves brought into this house,” but of course I brought one more. It was a little dry around the edges by that time, but still very colorful. I said, “even those little rough around the edges leaves are still beautiful. We’re all a little rougher on the edges.”
I would not be the same without her love for Him. To strive forward and live as she had lived full of faith, extreme love and compassion for her family. Grandma had no enemies. Everyone who knew my grandma became her friend. She lived well and finished strong. She completed her race. May we all be inspired by such a great woman. Let us let her beauty show today. Let’s make good memories with our family and friends.
Grandma loved the little duck in the daffodils that I painted. She was quite fond of my artwork and yes it made me feel good to hear her say it. Many times, she would come to my gallery and she would look around and even though she had seen all my paintings many times before she would say, “oh I like this one. This is beautiful! Oh, I don’t think I’ve seen that one, it’s gorgeous.”
In the end my heart goes on with the memory of my grandma. With that she will live forever. Her beauty. Her radiant smile and caring spirit. That stern attitude braced with unconditional love has made me a better person.
One of my last adventures with grandma was at a tulip farm. My grandma and I sat in the front of a mighty tulips as far as you could see. They were everywhere with beautiful vibrant colors shining in the sun. She said, “look at all them beautiful people.” I think she meant tulips but that made me think, yes look at all the many beautiful people in this world! May we look to the bright side as grandma always did. She and I have a shared love of flowers and we sat there side by side in our wheelchairs for the longest time smiling at the beauty that surrounded us.
Do you see God, The Tower, and the Airplane?
I nudged my chin controlled wheelchair down the empty streets of New York. I had an eerie feeling as if I was in a ghost town. Papers were blowing through intersections and people moved like zombies wearing dust masks. This was my first trip to New York, and it was September 11th, 2001.
My documentary was chosen to premiere at Martin Luther King Jr. III series ‘Wisdom of Dreams’. My family and I were all flown First Class to New York. When we woke up on 9/11 we were excited to have my documentary shown in the Big Apple. We were going to spend the first part of the day as tourists and that last part of the day as celebrities from a small town. But, our day was about to change.
Suddenly out of nowhere, I could hear screams. I watched as people ran out of the hotel at the direction of an intercom’s evacuation notice. When I looked up, I watched as the plane impacted the 2nd tower. As a person and quadriplegic this tragic event was one of the most devastating things that I have ever witnessed.
My heart hurt as we watched the tragedy unfold. So many lives lost. I began crying when I heard a gentlemen report that he barely made it out alive. But on his way out people were screaming for help as they sat in there wheelchairs. Many people were trapped in the building because they couldn’t physically use the stairs and leave.
When a building is in crisis, the first thing to get shut down is the elevators. The sign reads ‘In case of fire use stairs’. I wonder if the individual who hung that sign ever attempted stairs with a wheelchair?
As people crammed into the stairwell to save themselves, individuals in wheelchairs were left sitting. Later that day I heard an incredible story that lifted my spirits. A gentleman picked up his friend and threw him over his shoulders carrying him to safety. With the amount of Men, Woman, and Children that are physically disabled in America accessibility is important. That day, that tragedy, was yet another reminder of just how important.
The day the towers came down reignited my passion for accessibility. In 2004 the first part of that dream was complete. Camp Attitude, the first fully wheelchair accessible camp for families and children, was completed in Sweet Home, Oregon. Families and children of any age can experience a week of barrier-free life-changing experiences. The camp covers 40 acres of lush timber, is located next to Santiam river, and has accessible treehouses!
My dream did not stop there. I envisioned camps all over the United States. Incredibly, we have secured property on Maui. This beautiful piece of land overlooking the ocean sits next to a protected tropical culture reserve. Imagine watching whales migrate under beautiful sunsets bursting in color over Lanai island. It will be the first fully wheelchair accessible agricultural facility located on Maui.
I am asking you to help me with the next part of that dream. To build that fully accessible camp in Maui, Hawaii. It will be accessible to all, but those in particular with mobility impairment. Just picture a disabled child floating with fish for the first time. Feeling the saltwater and swimming. The camp will have horseback riding, agriculture, job/social skill building, gardening and more. Most fun of all; a fully accessible ramp that leads right into the ocean!
May we never forget the fond memories of loved ones who are no longer with us. May we never forget those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. In their honor live your life to the fullest! Pursue your dreams! Enjoy your family! Value the life you have!
I realize that there are many reasons to lose heart in life. Too many people have given up. But I know one thing for sure: we are not dead yet. As long as we are alive life is worth living. We can make a difference with God’s help and the support of those around us. Today more than any other day should be a reminder that regardless of our past, individual beliefs, or how difficult our circumstances are that together we are strong. Together we can change the world and make it a better place.
My daughter showing her New York love.
Yes, even a quadriplegic can do some yard work! Check out my video on using the Ego Blower with my wheelchair controlled by my chin!
Tulips and Something Older Than Grandma Ruth
Look grandma something older than you that’s still rolling!
After three attempts we finally made it to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn Oregon. If you haven’t been it’s definitely a spectacular experience to behold and worth the trip. Or, trips in our case!
Our first attempt was with my grandma, my cousin and our children. My grandma was totally stoked about seeing the tulips. We transferred her into the backseat so that I could fit my wheelchair in the van and get our three kids piled in around the chairs.
On our way there Grandma said that she was very excited to see the tulips because this would be her last trip. Then, it began to rain. But in Oregon, you don’t give up just because it rains. You keep moving forward!
To our surprise when we arrived there wasn’t a tulip in sight! They said that the weather had not cooperated and even though they were open there were no tulips in bloom.
“How can a tulip festival have no tulips,” I asked.
“Try again in a couple of weeks,” was their response.
“Well, grandma I guess you’re going to have to live for two more weeks,” I stated.
We decided to head to McDonald’s, which was the next best thing to Tulips. At least that’s what the kids thought.
Two weeks later we headed out in the hopes of Tulips again. And yes it rained the entire way. Luckily, when we arrived the rain had subsided. However, the mud was in full swing. Grandma and I did some 4×4 and made it through that mud.
The tulips were beautiful! Although we couldn’t get too close in our chairs due to the rain created swampland we were amazed by the beautifully bold and vibrant colors that tulips are known for.
Sitting next to my grandma at that moment was such a wonderful experience. It truly warmed my soul on that chilly day. I am grateful to have yet another fond memory to recall with my Grandmother.
The serenity was interrupted by a few chitty chitty bang bang sounds! Turning around we watched as a 1917 steam powered tractor went by.
“Look, Grandma, there’s something older than you and it’s still working,” I said. We both smiled and watched the tractor. Then the skies opened up and that Oregon rain began to pour again.
We made a mad dash through a quarter of a mile of mud! Grandma nearly slipped out of her wheelchair a few times and her hat blew off and rolled down the muddy road. But in the end, we all left with a smile and a memory of a trip that we did not give up on.
It seems to me that life is often a lot like the tulip trip. You plan, prepare, get excited and then something goes wrong. Well, as they say, winners never quit and quitters never win!
May this fun story remind you to overcome your discouragement and barriers. Press on through the storms and come out the other side to beautiful new views, a lasting memory, and a smile! Life is good!
A Pig Is A Good Thing
I recently had a contest to see if someone could figure out what I was going to paint showing a mostly blank canvas with the hint of a barnyard. There were many great guesses but to my surprise, no one mentioned painting a pig.
I actually love pigs!! Yes, those disgusting little creatures that eat anything and dig and roll in the mud, the blood and the beer. It is a true story that in my youth I was in the Future Farmers of America, FFA. For my project, I raised a pig and I called that piggie Mr. Tidbits.
I learned to guide Tidbits with a cane and give it verbal commands. I was proud of Mr. Tidbits and decided to take him to show. Well, he turned out to be a her. And at the fairgrounds, she decided to….. well let’s just say, get herself prepared for pregnancy.
It wasn’t but a few hours after taking 2nd place that some crazy boar got wind of my Tidbits. That boar busted through his fence, into Tidbits pen and decided to make babies without anybody’s permission or invitation.
I was appalled by such an action. It’s not like I haven’t seen dogs breed. I’d grown up around animals. But this was the most horrifying experience watching this happen to Tidbits. I beat that boar with my cane to no avail. I screamed for help to no avail. After being consoled by my mother I realized that nature took its course. This is the only truly disgusting thing I have to say about pigs.
Unbeknownst to most individuals, pigs are not that dirty. In fact, they only poo in one part of the pen and sleep in a clean spot. Their skin is relatively clean apart from a little mud every now and then. They can make the greatest friends.
I ended up raising pigs for a few years but decided to give up pigging when my dad decided to turn tidbits into bacon. (To be fair; she did root up and eat half of his garden).
Years later I got wind of house pigs. Pot Bellys. People would let them live in their house so I got one. I called her Atty. Short for attitude. Because she had a serious one.
Atty ate everything. She loved leftover popcorn and she would push her head to the bottom of the bag by shoving it against the couch to lick it. It was the funniest thing because every time she did this it would get stuck on her head. She would squeal a muffled sound that would make us laugh even though she was backing up into everything wiping out a few lampstands.
Atty became a housetrained pet that we received lots of love from. My favorite part was when you scratched behind her ears she would flop over like a cat so that you could scratch her belly. If you kept on scratching her left leg would kick like she was running.
During the summers I’d go to various fairs and set up a booth and paint. On several occasions, someone would ask if I‘ve ever painted a pig. So here it is…in the memory of Tidbits and Atty with an attitude, A Pig Is A Good Thing.
Let’s not judge by just a few external actions of an individual or an animal. Let us take time to learn and get acquainted. To observe. It’s called caring. Once you take the time to begin to care you will find that even a dirty pig can be a good thing.
I hope this motivation message finds you and your family well. Thank you for your continued prayers, support and good thoughts. I’m super excited about those who jumped on board with my donation subscription video from last month. Your $10+ a month helps keep the lights on for our Never Give Up nonprofit mission. As always, we can’t get our message out without your support. If you’d like to join the team please visit rollonron.com and click the Donate tab.
P.S. Yes, even the boar turned to be a good thing. There were a handful of Tidbits after that day at the fair.
With an attitude of gratitude,
This is Ron with your motivational message:
As I sit painting a mother hen and her chicks so tenderly tucked underneath her feathers, I’m inspired by their personalities even as I’m creating them myself. Each color chick is different. Unique. Has its own characteristics.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege to share my story and inspiration with 300 young men between the ages of 13-18 years old who had been incarcerated. They were now in a facility of last chances, Ridge View Academy in Colorado.
Sitting there alone in a big, open empty room I rehearsed in my mind the speech I was about to give. I asked myself “why do I feel nervous?”. These young men are no different than my average school assembly, besides that they were caught doing crimes that many of us have escaped from being held responsible for, including myself. I was reminded that as humans we all long for the same thing. Love, acceptance, finding our place and feeling like our life has a purpose.
As the room began to fill, 600 eyes looking straight at me I could feel that they were just as uneasy with me as I was with them. How can I cross this bridge and become the voice that they needed to hear? Words that they might understand.
I started my speech by describing my dream. I went to sleep last night and remember that I was driving this car super-fast on an open road, wide open windows and stereo blaring. I parked and jumping into a lake, I began swimming to the dock across it. Diving into the water. I remember there was a tree swing. I swung myself off and launched my body into the water. Coming above the water I popped up, opened my eyes and realized that I could no longer swim, run, drive my car. My body is numb. It’s paralyzed. I cannot move a muscle below my neck. And I lay in my bed until someone arrives to put my limp body in my chair. It’s like I’m a prisoner within myself. Waking up from these dreams I find myself paralyzed once again. With no parole. No apparent way out. No hope of being set free. I’ve been confined as you are just in a different way for 30 years.
And that’s the only way that I can try to understand your situation. There is no cure at this point for central nervous system repair. The future as far as me walking again is grim.
But you my friend, I said. You have the choice today to set yourself free. You’re not here on a life sentence you’ve made some unwise choices and for any of you to go back to your wheelchair once you’re set free from this place would sound ridiculous if I told you that there was a way for me to get out of my chair, but I wanted to stay confined.
As I felt each soul open and saw the facial expressions, I realized I had made a heart to heart connection. To my astonishment, they listened without barely a movement for one hour. When they were released, they didn’t get up and leave they stuck around and asked questions.
A couple of them even spoke out loud in front of their peers. One said that he was truly grateful that I came and laid it out bare. And that he was going to get over feeling sorry for himself. Stop talking like life isn’t fair. Life is sometimes what you make it and even though we don’t have control and maybe someone else brushes our teeth or combs our hair we are the master of our attitude. And can choose to be positive. Overcome our limitations. Focus on the “I Cans” instead of the saying I can’t. For me, I’ve realized the importance to have God in my life.
One young man was totally moved by my artwork for he himself was an artist. He couldn’t believe I was involved with a world organization of mouth and foot painters. He asked if I was like the only one, but after I told him I was involved in the world foundation of Mouth Foot Painters Association and that there is 800+ of us he got inspired to kick his art up a notch.
The hour and a half I spent with these young people was one of the more powerful experiences of my whole life. It felt real. These guys weren’t putting on a show. They all wore the same grubs. They all ate the same food. They all had zero money. I left them with a message of hope. And it was obviously well received. And that’s all it takes is a change in your mind to begin a transformation in your life.
As I’m looking at these chicks run around the yard and seeing their different personalities, I’m reminded how different we all are. Unique in size, color, and personality.
Spring is coming. New life appears. Flowers begin to bloom. Trees bud. The sun is shining, and I pray your hearts are warmed as you are reminded of how unique and special you are. And no matter what the past circumstances or your phycological bars are we’re all prisoners in our own limitations. What’s your emotional confinement? All of these are excuses. Don’t allow your limitations, your metal wheelchairs, your psychological wheelchairs, whatever is confining you to keep you there. You are bigger than your problems.
For these chicks their mother is there to protect them, teach them, guide them so they can survive on their own. As my experience with the young men reminds me sometimes, we don’t get that upbringing that provides the tools. Maybe there is someone you can minister to today with a positive word or to even full on mentor. Sometimes that is all another human might need. It takes a community.
I wanted to send a big thank you to Suzi Nelson for opening the doors up for me to speak at Ridge View Academy. And, to Evy Schott and Tim Butler for making it all happen. I hope to return to Colorado in the future. If anyone would like to reach out to set up a speaking engagement in Colorado or elsewhere, please feel free to contact us.
To your inspirations,