Look for those who help

Sometimes the news is hard to watch. Terroist bombings, mass shootings and natural diasters deserve the coverage, but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on the horrifying or the shocking.

Like others, I watched the damage caused by a pressure cooker bomb killed and maimed runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon few years ago. I remember watching Mr. Rodgers from PBS’ Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood. The reporeter asked how he would help a child cope with such news. He said he would tell them not to look at the carnage. Look for the people who are running in to help.

As a culture, we gnerally rally to help those in need. If look for it, you can find people and organizations who immediately act whenever there is a need. People from around the country have hooked their boats to there trucks and headed to Houston to help,

The advice was meant for children, but it should work just as well for all ages.


Small Town Dancer

No one has ever asked him why he dances with a leaf rake, but all who have watched marvel at his enthusiasm. He spins, leaps and twirls the rake, all while people inside a neighborhood grocery store watch him perform.

“He does almost every day,” says the teenager behind the grocer’s cash register.

“Why does he do it?” a woman holding two shopping bags asks.

“How knows, but it sure is different,” said a man holding a six pack and waiting in the checkout line.

And on it goes in the small rural town I live in. The young man dances with a rake looking as if he is unaware of his neighbors watching him from across the street.


Make it legal

We now have 28 states and the District of Columbia with laws permitting some form of legal marijuana use. As a result, more than half of our country’s population now lives somewhere that allows legal use of pot. In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before we will have to address whether it should be legal nationwide.

The problem with state’s legalising pot is it is still illegal at the federal level. Due to the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is classified as a schedule one drug, which puts it in the same category as heroin.

Considering the problem we’re having with heroin use and the number of deaths it has caused, I think this needs to be changed. As far as I know, we’ve never had a national problem with pot overdoses.

Since the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, doctors have found there are medical reasons for people to use marijuana. It has been found to help people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and pain. I have friends who have used it to deal with arthritis pain and problems sleeping. They have found relief and are very thankful they can get what they need.

It is time we end the prohibition and make marijuana legal. Then place high taxes on it and use the revenue to take care of our nation’s debt.



Depression is more than just feeling sad

I know what it is like to suffer from depression. It goes beyond the normal human emotion of sadness. It takes you down so deep that you don’t care if you live or die. At times, as it did with actor and comedian Robin Williams, you feel the only way to escape is to take your own life.

Yes, I have been suicidal. I’ve given up hope of ever feeling happy or feel anything at all. I concealed my problem through the use of drugs and alcohol. Call it self-medicating. Other coping methods I’ve tried include working long hours and staying constantly active in order to keep from dealing with my problem.

To say someone who is depressed is just sad is an insult. Unless you have experienced it, there is no way for anyone to know what it’s like. It is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a disease, one that kills thousands of people annually.

Through the love of my family and therapy, I’m now able to live a normal life. Yes, I still have a nagging fear that it may someday come back. It is a fear I will have to face for the rest of my life.

Robin Williams’ death is making a big splash in newspapers and on cable TV news channels. For short time, experts will be brought out to talk about depression and the myths that surround the disease.

My hope is that Robin Williams’ death will create a greater awareness of the disease. My wish is that it will make people who know someone suffering from depression better understand the disease. Help is available, but people who suffer from depression don’t look for it. For them, there is no help. That is why it is important for friends and family members of depression suffers to understand the signs and what needs to be done.

One source of information is www.managingdepression.us.

If you are someone who is suffering from depression and reading, please reach out to someone. Help is out there. As long as there is life, there is hope.


Pelicans in a small town

Pelicans have attracted a lot of attention in my small Northern Illinois town. They started showing up about two years ago. As a result, people here have taken a break from talking about sports, politics and the weather to admire these majestic birds.


They gather just below the local dam that supports the local hydraulic power plant. Sometimes there appears to be a large flotilla of them just bouncing in the waves as they wait for a fish to go by. Saw one turn his head sideways, the quickly plunged half its body under water. Just as fast it was back up right with a fish tail sticking out of the bulging pouch.


Later I learned that pelicans will work together when it is time to feed. They will get in a long line on the water and flap their wings to force the fish into shallower water where they can more easily catch them.


Watching them land is an amazing experience. They glide in with webbed feet out to greet the water as they slide onto the surface. I remember watching several of them come in for a landing with two small children. The boy and girl oohed and aahed the way people do while watching fireworks.


Since just watching them was not enough to satisfy my curiosity, I did a quick search. Turns out we’ve attracted the American White Pelican. They can weigh around 30 pounds and their wingspans can reach nine feet. They fly in groups called squadrons, which sounds much more impressive than flocks.


They migrate along the Mississippi River and the town I live in is located on the far Eastern edge of their flight path. They head North in Spring and South in the Fall. Eventually they’ll leave our small town and the local coffee house and restaurants will be filled with talk about the weather, sports and politics. While listening, I will silently hope to see the pelicans return next Fall.


Could only happen in small town

A get-well card came in the mail this past Saturday. Nothing unusual about getting a card from friends, but this one was different. The envelope’s address had my name, the street, city and state. What it didn’t have was my house number. Yet, it arrived just a day after my friend had placed it in a mailbox. My wife found it funny. For me, it brought back memories.

I’ve lived in a large metropolitan area with several million people and in town with a population of only 1,500. Both have their advantages, but I find smaller villages more suited to my lifestyle.

Currently I live in a small rural community in northern Illinois with about 15,000 residents. When the local high school has a sporting or scholastic team do well, a large percentage of the town’s residents turns out to celebrate. During summer nights, children are allowed to play outside until the streetlights come on. Some people even leave their backdoors unlocked while they are away at work.

Fewer people live in small towns today compared to a generation ago. Most of us only get a glimpse of what rural American life is like through Norman Rockwell’s art or during broadcasts of presidential primary races farm states like Iowa and Indiana. Of course there is a reason for the change. Big cities generally have more and better paying jobs than smaller ones.

As a young boy I remember sprinting home to confess to my mother that I had broken someone’s window. Even though I only had to run just two block, I barely reached my mother in time to confess before the phone started to ring. The caller was a woman who was unhappy about the baseball that had gone through her garage window.

Living in places such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles have many advantages. When picking which movie to see, you not only get to choose the time, but also the theater. Where I live, we don’t even have a cinema. When it comes to picking a restaurant, metropolitan areas have small towns beat, hands down.

Despite all of its drawbacks, I still prefer living in a smaller community. Where else could I receive a get well card with an incomplete address?


Gaining a new perspective on disabilities

A recent tumble on ice has given me a chance to learn what it is like to have a disability. Have to admit, the experience has been educational.

About a week ago, I fell on my right knee after slipping on ice. X-rays revealed that I had cracked my kneecap. As a result, I am now in a full leg brace for the next six to eight weeks.

For the past week, I have had to rely on others to do simple things, such as get in and out of cars, put on socks and shoes. Even using the toilet has become a humbling experience. I have the advantage of knowing that I will eventually get past this and be able to do all the things I used to take for granted. For people with life-long disabilities, the need for help with daily activities will never end.

I know someone who has been a wheelchair all of his life. He usually has a quick joke and a smile whenever I see him. I’ve never heard him complain, but now I have a better understanding about what his life must be like. Imagine what it must have been like before businesses and public buildings were required to be handicap accessible. I now appreciate the large bathroom stalls with handrails, and sidewalk ramps that make getting around easier.