'Too Many Extras to List'
My wife and I decided to take the plunge and buy something we'd been thinking about for a long time, a side by side- sport utility vehicle. We had a lot of reasons, mainly we wanted something she could plow our 1.7 mile driveway without freezing to death. We found one and were happy to report that the seller hadn’t listed extras like, additional doors and all of the maintenance he'd done on it.
My wife is very happy that it has a working heater (see the arrow) and a cab on it to block out the wind and snow.
We were fortunate. Looking through so many ads, I kept seeing the phrase 'too many extras to list' and it occurred to me, there are a lot of things that each of us, hold back or don't advertise, the way we should. So, this weeks PCT's, Positive CJ Thoughts are about examples of 'extras' we often fail to list.
Even with all its potential as well as its faults, social media is an incredible thing.
It gives us a glimpse at people's lives, but really, only what they want to show us. Some show the good, the bad, and others, the ugly. Some people choose to only use it as a way to vent frustration over both perceived and factual injustices either to themselves or to society. It can be a way to show pride in those we love and admire as well as a way to celebrate the first day of school, anniversaries, and other milestones.
I for one, am pretty thankful that when I was… ahem… young and stupid, there were no camera phones and the internet was just a gleam in Al Gore's eye. :p
We share experiences, joys and sadness. Again, only what we want others to see. I've had lunch with people who will carry on a thirty-minute non-stop diatribe about how awful someone is, then put up a 'see what an awesome wife/husband/friend I have' post about that same person, twenty minutes later.
I have personal familial knowledge of individuals who build up sympathy for themselves when they are the ones who created their own hell, only…they don't explain that. While they are bemoaning their situations, they fail to explain that they do nothing to make that situation different.
The people I really want to talk about are the awesome heroes of our world. The people that don't do much talking about their incredible efforts to affect social change and make the world a much better place by their every day actions. Once in a while we'll read about them from a witness. Like the police officers that buy groceries for an elderly man who hadn't eaten in two days.
The firefighters that finish mowing someone's yard because the patient had a heart attack while doing it themselves.
The nurses that sit with elderly patients who have no one to check on them, the teachers that buy school supplies for their kids that are unable to afford the bare necessities, and so many other every day heroes.
I get it, we are bombarded daily with so much negativity that it's hard to pick out the good parts. Often, even if there is a good story, immediately someone starts digging to find the 'truth' or in most cases something that dashes the good feeling. The individual does something wonderful but we keep looking until we can find the seedy past that allows us to negate the good.
I think we need more every day hero stories. There are a lot of them out there. Sometimes we can see their capes and other times, it's invisible. I love the story of the little boy that uses his allowance to buy chicken sandwiches for the homeless and tells them 'show love'. He wears a cape as he and his dad walk around sharing a little bit of humanity with every meal they give out.
I've told you about my friend Jan who is on a crusade to help those struggling with addiction. She's gained a lot of national attention and more than one person has been unhappy that she doesn’t just 'let them go'. She and her counter parts are making a difference. If you listed all her wonderful qualities, there would be so many 'extras' that we could fill a book.
Another friend I call a little sister, is a champion for animals. She's rescued more than you can imagine, set up funds for their care, and taken in so many fosters, she has a zoo. Maggie has that something special that lays it all out on the line for creatures that can't protect themselves. Maggie is scrappy and has tons of 'extras' that are never listed.
My boss and his wife are like that too. More than once, they've seen someone sitting on the side of the road with an animal and a sign that says they are in need. They've put them up in hotels, taken them to the grocery store to buy dog food and helped them in ways no one ever sees.
Once during one flooding event, they took off with some friends and their propane barbecue grills to feed a group of Army Reservists that hadn't had a warm meal in days. They cooked breakfast, then later hotdogs until they ran out of propane. They're good people that do a great deal for their community.
I always come back to my wife, Darla. If ever there was a woman who has 'too many extras to list', it's her. I'm sure I drive her crazy singing her praises and I know she's not perfect. She's put up with me more than I can explain. She's quiet and contemplative.
She gets things done with little fanfare. As I've told you, in her former occupation, she was an Emergency Manager and 911 Director. She's handled complex incidents that require her to provide resources and assistance to large groups of people. She did it with incredible skill and grace.
During Super Storm Sandy, she was trying to take care of a county full of people without power buried under downed trees and heavy snow. At one point, nothing could travel in or out of the county to the hospitals by roadway. That meant no ambulances could make it to the hospital in the next county and no resources could get in until the roadways were clear. The power was out to the entire county of over 5000 residents. There were no gas stations or grocery stores that had emergency generators. The county is full of resilient people, but it's also a large tourism draw with many people from out of state visiting.
The picture in the above is the same stretch of roadway during the storm and after the clean up.
The next two show a National Guardsman trying to make it to the communication tower in hip deep snow and another reservist shoveling off the roof of one of the fire departments that was in danger of the roof collapsing. All from a hurricane...in West Virginia..a state that isn't on the coast and has no ocean. Go figure.
The demands on her time and influence were overwhelming. She went about her job directing resources and finding ways to get supplies to those in need. There was so much activity that often times, it felt like we were spinning our wheels and unable to provide what was truly needed. Trust me, my wife is a rock star and got it done.
It didn't come out until much later, but she'd been dealing with one family that somehow managed to get a simple email out to her because they didn't know who else to contact. They had enough gas for their generator to fire up their satellite internet service in order to get out an electronic SOS. They were trapped at their house with dozens of huge, mature trees that had fallen down across their driveway. The husband was trying to cut their way out, but they were running out of fuel. Darla kept in touch with them, advising them of the status of help and telling them to save enough gas to get one more message out when they were close to being completely depleted. She was helping these people without any fanfare. I can't remember which, but I'm pretty sure they wrote a letter of thanks to the county commission or a letter to the editor.
To us, it was pure chaos but she tried to keep an order to it, following her training and using her organizational skills. My system differed greatly during the storm. :)
We had a US Forest Service Chainsaw Team come in to help do some clearing. We laughed when she said she'd been on many of these types of operations, but none as organized as my wife had it. She has so many things others will never know about, the things that make her extraordinary. The 'extras' that I love to share with everyone else.
In her farm duties as chief lesbian farmer planner extraordinaire,
she built a computer program to help us capture the data of our sales allowing us to keep track of our customers and their purchases, our current and previous harvest numbers, all the inputs (fertilizers and such) and their costs, and a host of other things. When we had to use our crop insurance this year for the strawberry losses, she was able to show the insurance adjusters exactly what our previous harvest numbers were, the number of customers, and too many other 'extras to list'. With her records, we were able to recoup some of our loss.
I blow the horn about her because I think she's completely brilliant in the things she's able to do with very little formal computer education. She's self-taught. Her brain sees the columns and formulas in her head that I have zero idea how to do. I wanted to marry her from the day I met her and I had yet to see all the hidden 'extras' at that point. I certainly got more out of the deal than she ever will.
I have friends who work in food pantries to take care of those in need and trust me, that need gets greater all the time.
Another friend took on the project of filling the void for women in homeless and domestic abuse centers to have access to menstrual cycle products. People donate clothes and shoes, but these poor women were trying to deal with having a period with no funds to purchase necessary sanitary items, many of us take for granted. Miranda is an incredible young lady. Her college roommate was ready to kill her because their dorm room was packed to the gills with pads and tampons while she was collecting items. Heart of gold and, like her parents who also do incredible things, want little in the way of recognition. These two incredible women have so many 'extra's' on their list.
https://www.channelkindness.org/american-university-student-helps-ease-homeless-womens-monthly-troubles/ Although I hate the title to this article..monthly ' troubles' indeed.
Sometimes it's about the hats we wear. By day, I'm a firefighter. Someone who directs the training program and handles the safety officer duties on fires.
I'm also the annoying lady that reminds you to check your smoke alarms or gives your kid safety training and winds them up to make sure you install the smoke alarm I sent home with them.
By night, I might be chief weed control officer for the farm.
I'm also church council member, science and history homework helper, and family chef. All hats I wear. After that, it's author, blogger, lover of lesbian literature...
... Jill of all trades, and master of none. Too many extras to list and most that are totally useless under most circumstances…like my weird knack for useless trivia, BONUS!!! (It has won me a lot of beer over the years.)
My point is we are the sum of our parts, all the 'extras' that we frequently overlook and discount are important. We care about things, about society in general, and our world. We see where we can make a difference and have the opportunity to do something…or do nothing. Our conscious and our moral compass guide us. (I think some people have a magnet under their compass, directing the moral side to completely new lows.)
Think about all the things you are and how those pieces make up the whole. You have so many 'extras' that we tend to say, "that's bragging". Celebrate accomplishments for what they are. We are surviving in a world that drains our humanity on a daily basis. Remember that those 'extras' are worth sharing. It can be inspiring when we watch someone take steps to make another person's burden lighter. The 'extras' you possess can change someone's world.
Our new side by side has a light bar on it to push back the darkness. Each of us has that light within us, we just need to remember to occasionally 'list those extras' so that it can shine brightly on others.
The new book, The Bucket List, went back to the editor for a final read over and I'm listening to it with a speech to text app to try and find errors. I have to laugh because it can't pronounce one of my main character's name and always spells it out. Slightly distracting. Hopefully the next step is to send it to Lee at Desert Palm Press who will forward it to the proofers to look for those typos that drive everyone crazy. It's amazing what your eyes will miss when you've read it this many times. THEN we can publish. I cannnnnnot wait to share the cover with you. Blew me away as the talented Ann McMan always does when she delivers the 'extras' she posesses.
The other WIP for the "Five Points" series is coming along. It all takes time. Until then, enjoy 'frame by frame', Lose yourself in the West Virginia Mountains, at a small community store, where you can meet Val, Laurel and the host of characters that fill their lives.
You can find it at your favorite retail outlet.