The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer’s Disease

The Gettysburg Address to Alzheimer's DiseaseThe Gettysburg Address, only 272 words in length, and yet one of the greatest speeches of all time written by Abraham Lincoln. On the 150th anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address, I took the challenge to write a similar appeal on something important to me in only 272 words.

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Roadblocks and Setbacks

Roadblock , Do Not Enter, DetourEver had one of those days where absolutely everything goes wrong? You know, a day full of setbacks and roadblocks, enough to make you feel like you just can’t do anything right. That was yesterday for me.

Setback 1: It started early with oatmeal, of all things. I’ve cooked it the same dependable way for years but yesterday it turned out watery for some reason. An attempt to fix the problem then turned my oatmeal into a substance similar to concrete just before it hardens.

Setback 2: After arriving at work, a trip to the restroom and a look in the mirror revealed a stain on my sweater in a color I could not identify, remove or hide. Was the concrete oatmeal to blame?

Roadblock 3: A project I have been conceptualizing, writing and obsessing over for the last two and a half months got shot down, forcing me against my will back to square one. I could see the fireball and smoke for miles in every direction.

Setback 4: While attempting to operate a fire extinguisher in my brain, I forgot a parent teacher conference scheduled immediately after work and was reminded by the frantic “Where are you?” phone call ten minutes before the appointment time.

Roadblock 5: A pounding headache kept me from focusing on the conversation after arriving late to the parent teacher conference.

Obviously, I was in a serious funk and needed some help to get over it. I tried a few strategies, all with varying degrees of success or failure, depending on how you look at it.

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The Rest of the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers Story from Wendy Poole

The rest of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Family Caregivers Story Wendy PooleBack in April, I posted my thoughts after reading all the moving stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers. I specifically mentioned the story “Remembrance” by Wendy Poole as my favorite dementia story, but I wondered why Wendy and her mother shared only six weeks of happiness at the piano with Wendy’s mother singing show tunes while Wendy played for her.

Recently I was delighted to learn the rest of the story from Wendy herself, as she contacted me to answer my question. As it turned out, her mother’s illness had progressed to the point that she needed to be moved to a nursing home. The piano recitals were no longer possible from the new facility, and the therapeutic ritual became another short but sweet memory in Wendy’s Alzheimer’s journey with her mother.

All dementia caregivers have stories to share, events in the progression of this devastating illness that have changed them profoundly. While these stories are all personal tributes to loved ones, there is a bittersweet commonality between them to which all caregivers can relate. Wendy was kind enough to share another of her stories with me, one she originally submitted to her local newspaper for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Thanks to Wendy for filling in the blanks and also allowing me to share her poignant story with others here.

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State Fair Mini Donut Madness: The Bucket

Bucket of mini donuts at Illinois State FairI visit the Illinois State Fair annually for one reason only – concerts – but apparently I am in the minority. Most people attend to gorge themselves on the food. While walking around the fair this year before the start of the Grandstand show, I passed all the familiar food vendors located in the same spots selling the same food to the same people. Same as it ever was, nothing out of the ordinary, just the worst fried food contributing to the poor health and eating habits of Americans for the last century. No big whoop.

Then I walked by the mini donut stand. You know, the same mini donut stand in the same location since the beginning of time, or maybe just the beginning of the state fair. I was shocked to discover something new, a clever marketing ploy to sell more donuts in fact! This year is the first I recall mini donuts being sold in BUCKETS. I was even told these “commemorative” plastic buckets were suitable for keeping and displaying in your home on a shelf, WOW! These “keepsake” plastic buckets hold 48 mini donuts. Yes, I said 48 donuts, obviously because the usual bag of 20 just-out-of-the-grease, burn-your-fingers, deep fried beauties just isn’t enough anymore.Bag of mini donuts at Illinois State Fair

Who could possibly need 48 mini donuts at one time? Then I looked around and saw people everywhere carrying around these BUCKETS of donuts. The marketing ploy had worked. People did feel the need to eat 48 mini donuts at one time. While watching the unflattering views of individuals walking away from me with buckets of mini donuts in hand, I wondered what might come next once the newness of the mini donut bucket wears off.

Bushel of mini donuts?

Wheelbarrow of mini donuts?

Cart of mini donuts?

I guess the mini donut madness will continue as long as state fair visitors are hell bent on total destruction by food consumption. Is this what the future holds for Americans, BUCKETS full of food to go with a GALLON of soda and SUPERSIZED fries?

I just lost my appetite.

Book Review: The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer

Book Review: The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer

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A friend loaned me The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer recently and recommended I read it. Knowing I was a writer and aspiring author, this friend felt certain I would enjoy this story. I was at first skeptical; this book did not fall into the categories I devote my limited leisure time to read: classics like The Great Gatsby, Little Women or Wuthering Heights, or narrative nonfiction and self-help books similar to my own genre of writing.

What the heck? I decided to take a break from the norm and give it a try. All I had to lose was a little extra time. As it turned out, my friend knows me pretty well. I truly enjoyed reading The Thieves of Manhattan. It’s an action-packed story about two writers in New York with a history of failure in the publishing industry. Their lives intertwine in a book-writing scam and suddenly they are living the Indiana Jones version of an author’s action/adventure in New York City. The book includes a lot of humorous jabs at the publishing industry and intentionally blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction writing. By the end, the boundaries between what is real (a memoir) and what is fake (a novel) have been completely overstepped.

As a writer working toward the publication of my first book, I really found this story to be amusing. It was a quick read for me and a nice departure from the books I read to help further my writing efforts for a book to read just for the fun of it. Go ahead and read The Thieves of Manhattan, there’s really nothing to lose with this one, especially if you are a writer or aspiring author. Without even knowing you, I’m still pretty confident you will like this book. And if you read it, let me know what you think!

Check out the book trailer here:

There’s No Place Like Your Childhood Home

Childhood Home For SaleNo other dwelling in which you reside during your lifetime will hold a place as near and dear to your heart as your childhood home. I was reminded of this universal truth recently after discovering the home I grew up in was listed for sale. Immediately I felt the urge to visit my old stomping ground to investigate.

The realtor’s sign in the front lawn provided the confirmation I needed. While the yard had been tamed for marketability, the house remained dark and foreboding upon inspection. My family’s secrets were safely stowed behind locked doors with windows drawn tight against the curiosity of onlookers. I was overcome by mixed emotions, wanting so badly to see my childhood home once again yet at the same time remembering how desperately I longed to escape that house in my youth.

Yet I still recall this home fondly, nostalgia creeping in over the years to soften the hard reality of what happened here, making the memories more bittersweet than painful. If the walls of my childhood home could play back the family history that unfolded over twenty-six years, a plethora of movie genres would be revealed: family, drama, comedy, romance, action, adventure, music, crime, sport, horror, war, and the finale an epic tragedy.

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Family Caregivers Local Author Event at Barnes and Noble

It was such a treat to participate in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers book signing yesterday at Barnes & Noble as a contributing author along with Jean Ferratier. I want to thank the Springfield, Illinois Barnes & Noble for hosting this local author event, and I’d especially like to thank everyone who came by to see us over the two hours we were at the bookstore. Jean and I both had the opportunity to discuss and read excerpts from our stories. I feel so fortunate to have my story included in this book, and it was wonderful to talk with other caregivers and hear their feedback on my story. So many people shared their own caregiving stories, and it was a privilege to be entrusted with this personal information. Here are some photos that capture this special event celebrating family caregivers everywhere.


Author Book Signing Today

Author EventToday is the book signing for my contributing story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers at Barnes & Noble in Springfield, Illinois at 2 pm. It looks to be a beautiful spring day, and I’ve been looking forward to this event for quite awhile now. I’ll share more news and photos afterwards, but until then here is the sign currently greeting customers at the front entrance to the bookstore.

Barnes & Noble Author Event Book Signing Kathleen H. Wheeler



Box of Books with My Story!

Nothing more exciting than a box of books showing up on the front doorstep. Wait, let me explain further! Nothing more exciting than a box of books including one of my stories showing up on the front doorstep! Take a look at the box of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers books I received recently. I’m working my way through the book before its official release on March 13 and reading some great stories. Can’t wait for the book signing at Barnes & Noble in Springfield on March 24!

Box of books with my story included!

Chicken Soup for the Springfield Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul Family Caregivers full book cover

Here is the story behind my story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers – Kathleen H. Wheeler

Chicken Soup for the Soul inspirational book series responsible for bringing two Springfield, Illinois writers together as friends and contributing authors in new Family Caregivers release.

Ladle up a double bowl of chicken soup with a distinct Springfield flavor courtesy of local authors Kathleen H. Wheeler and Jean Ferratier. Both of these central Illinois writers have stories featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers to be released on March 13, 2012. The newest title in the inspirational book series includes 101 stories of love, sacrifice and bonding as support and encouragement to family members caring for loved ones with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

It is more than just a coincidence that Wheeler and Ferratier are featured together in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers. The inspirational book series is actually responsible for bringing these two authors together in the first place. Wheeler introduced herself to Ferratier after learning about her publication in Think Positive through the local newspaper.

“Jean and I share common interests and life experiences, and I felt certain she was someone I needed to get to know better,” says Wheeler. “We were both caregivers for mothers afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, and we both felt it was necessary to write about the life-changing lessons we learned from that experience. I contacted Jean through LinkedIn, and our relationship progressed naturally from that point.”

After corresponding and sharing advice, the two stayed in touch, eventually met, and attended an author lecture together. When a call for entries in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers went out, Ferratier urged Wheeler to submit a story for consideration along with hers.

Fortunately, stories from both Ferratier and Wheeler were selected for inclusion in the book, and the two friends are thrilled to share the spotlight together as featured authors in the same publication.

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