Friday, December 26, 2014


She is a quiet, composed, beautiful lady. She is intelligent, bright and doesn't miss anything that crosses her path. She speaks softly and loves deeply. Her husband is the love of her life and her children and grandchildren are the center of her universe. Her accomplishments in her career speak for themselves. She seems to always stretch her self and go beyond what common mortals  do. She taught herself computer programs and mathematical problems that were necessary in her line of work. And carried on the engineering goals, from her Father Reuben's genes and daily influence. She has been handsomely rewarded for the work ethic she diligently pursued and was demonstrated  by her role model, grandmother Nell,  since the age of fourteen,  when she worked in our grandmother's shop. My baby sister, Laurie,  recently retired from her career. She wanted to spend more time with her husband and family, but she didn't retire from her spirit of giving and her knack for observing what goes on around her.

A few years ago, my sister saved her husband's life when he had a massive heart attack at  home. She
performed CPR on him and later the EMS took him to the hospital and he recovered after he was packed in ice and brought out of an induced coma.;postID=8462564081228885629;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=31;src=postname

Laurie and I were visiting about Christmas the other day and before we hung up our phones, she said, "I want to tell you what happened yesterday when Kenny and I were at Dillard's shopping for Christmas."

She continued, "A small older lady started screaming, 'Please help me'. As Kenny and I were walking toward her we saw a man lying on the floor with his eyes closed. People were standing around staring and not making any moves to aid the lady in distress. I screamed,  Call 911. Hurray." Laurie continued and said the lady was pushing on her husband's chest. But it didn't seem correct so Laurie gently pushed the lady's hand away and took over until the EMS arrived. She said it was interesting how the man's eyes began to open and then rolled around in his head when he began to take a breath.
She said she remembered how she compressed her husband's chest a few years before.

Laurie said the man began to sit up and his wife was going to help him stand to walk away. Laurie told them not to move and stay put until the EMS arrived to check him out. Shortly, they did arrive and she and Kenny bid their ado and began to leave the scene. She said the woman didn't ask her for her name or anything. So she didn't know how things turned out. The woman had revealed that her husband had been having trouble with high blood pressure recently. When she arrived home and told her son what happened he said, "Mother, do you realize you saved another life?"

Do you know you could save a life as she did? Look at this video and you can see, <>

<> Please be observant of what goes on around you. At least call 911 and attempt to do what Laurie did. You might give someone a new life in this New Year. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Recently, I found a yellow, wrinkled piece of notebook paper. The three folds of the paper were pulling apart at the seams and barely held together. It looks very old. And so it is, because I wrote excerpts of verses from Epictetus on it about forty-five years ago. I recorded the verses from a tiny book with gold binding I found several years before. I was so impressed with what the verses revealed of a man who wrote them many centuries ago. It was really my first encounter with a philosopher with whom I could relate, Epictetus.

The Epictetus readings became helpful in my second semester english class at Del Mar College.  My instructor creatively taught his classes in a manner in which  Freshman students could relate. One of his favorite characters in literature was  Sir Thomas More, a 16th century chancellor and advisor  to King Henry VIII.  He assigned the play, A Man of All Seasons, written by Robert Bolt and was a featured film in 1966. It was one of our readings for the class. The play is based on the true story of More who wouldn't give into the demands of King Henry VIII.  I used one of the verses from my little book, Epictetus, as a reference when I wrote my essay about  the story. My literature instructor was quite impressed with my knowledge of this stoic philosophy by Epictetus.

More was a man with high academic skills as well as high moral ideals.  In 1534 More refused the oath which pledged him to approve  the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn after divorcing his wife. Because of More's convictions against the King's unlawful actions that defied church law and custom he was imprisoned in the tower and later beheaded. His head was exhibited on London Bridge. More sacrificed an accomplished life and lost his head all because he failed to acknowledge the king's divorce and remarriage. In my essay I quoted Epictetus, "Consider man at what price you sell your freedom of choice-if for no other reason that you not sell it for a trifle". Epictetus was a Greek slave hundreds of years before and apparently dwelt on such matters often. I professed that in addition to More's faithfulness to the pope and the church he could likely have been a student of Epictetus's
philosophy of Stoicism. And he may have viewed his role as one not worthy of retaining, just for a lie. Or the acceptance of the king's marital position too trifle to forfeit his principles and values.

My English teacher was philosophical in his advice.  During the semester he suggested that as we read, we might find it enlightening to write down significant quotes from the literature. And reflect upon them from time to time. That is how I came to collect and record some of Epictetus's verses. I carried them around in my wallet and read them at times of boredom or at places I had spare time to wait. Eventually, as I changed wallets and purses the wrinkled paper was lost in a file or drawer, but definitely saved for my reflections. In my next post I will tell you about the other Epictetus verses I like to reflect upon and some I find relevant today.

Today, I think it is quite interesting that reading back to the time of King Henry VIII's reign in England,  he was purportedly responsible for the beheading of thousands of people, including two wives. Not to mention he is the one credited with founding The Church Of England that evolved as a result of the separation from Rome. During my Family research I also found that one of my favorite lines in my genealogy, the Edwards, my ancestor, Richard Edwards is linked as an illegitimate son of King Henry VIII's. One must be careful of whom he/she criticizes in history.

Monday, February 3, 2014


After retiring from teaching for thirty years, I decided to work on my memoirs. How can I do this when I'm so unworthy, so ill prepared, so inexperienced in writing? I need to leave something to my descendents to know that I existed when I'm gone. Where do I begin and how do I make my experiences meaningful, when I believed my life was not that interesting? Who wants to read about me and what will I expose myself to? Will I be ridiculed, disliked, or thought of in a distasteful manner? I will be vulnerable and I did not like that idea. Some say it's like standing nude in front of a mirror or letting others see you do so. Especially if you publish for the public.

So, I procrastinated for a year or two and did some research into my geneology. I had a few ancestors to find information on so that I could join our local DAR. My grandmother's cousin joined years ago so all I had to do was to hook up with her work by showing a connection from my generation through my mother's, grandmother's, and her mother's and grandmother's records all the way to our DAR patriot who participated in the U.S. Revolution. Thank god for the internet and I could obtain census records and a few other  articles of information. Then I had to obtain marriage or death records that demonstrated marriages between the spouses or that they existed. I even discovered my grandmother's cousin in Pearsall, who at the age of 8o, was still ranching, riding a horse and living as others in our distant family did generations before. I called her and she sent me a copy of the 1910 DAR paper that her aunt used to join the patriotic organization over a century before.

It took longer than I anticipated, but I learned a lot about my ancestors who bravely pioneered in Texas.  I learned my great, great grandfather, John Alonzo Edwards, led a trail drive from Palo Pinto County, west of Ft. Worth to Oregon in the late 1800's. His wife, Harriet, my grandmother's grandmother stayed behind with small children waiting for his return. Her extended family was helpful, I'm sure. But there were reports of frequent Indian raids with killings of white settlers and the kidnapping of children. She must have been brave, scared and fearful for her life and her babies. Her husband did not return for two years from the distant trail drive.  I found a copy of a handwritten card from Harriet to her sister describing the children's well being. These stories made me reflect on my mother's courageous activities, who as a young mother, worked as Rosie the Riveter during World War II and later left her husband and moved a state away with her young daughters to start a new life. I gradually began to reflect on other events and realized I needed to get them written. Maybe, I could think of stories in my life that I wanted my children and grandchildren to know. Get on with it Janine and start telling your stories, I told myself.

Ana Castillo visited the University of Houston in Victoria a few years ago and lectured about her stories and her writing.  I found her beautiful and smart. Later, I googled her name and discovered she was to give a workshop on Writng Memoirs in San Antonio, Texas. I made plans to go right away. Ana was an insightful coach who asked us what we were waiting for. Who was the voice telling us we couldn't do it? If we could, identify the source, put the source in a box and toss it out of the way.

I had a friend who wrote on a blog and I decided to do that. A whole new world opened when I began to read blogs. I decided my blog would be mostly my memoirs or others whom I knew. The first few posts were small. I told one story about my Rosie the Riveter Mom and I had a response from two women who had done research in that area and also had a blog, "Women's Memoirs" on Linkedin. http://womensmemoirs.comThey gave me some helpful pointers. Gradually, I lost most of my inhibitions and began to expose myself with my vulnerable posts. I told myself that if my mother and grandmothers took risks I could too and I would give it a shot. I didn't have to worry about Indians raiding my ranchito. The more I thought about my life experiences the more posts I wrote. When the feedback was positive, it boosted my courage to write more. Surprisingly, some whom I thought would encourage me never said a word or recognized what I was doing. I didn't let it bother me. That was the vulnerability to which I exposed myself.

My friend, Diana, told me about a social worker lecturer, Brene Brown,  on Ted Talk on the internet. watching her speak on how vulnerability is part of our psychological growth, "It is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change," I realized that this is what Ana was telling us. They both were saying that we shouldn't listen to the negative talk that exists in our head. Or that we were afraid of receiving.

Like my fore bearers, I decided to purposefully make myself vulnerable and begin a new experience. I would begin by looking at past events that were meaningful to me and generally tell it like it was and how I worked through my problems of the past. That would be a true legacy for my children and grandchildren and I would be able to profit from it myself, as I stood nude for all to see.