Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Donated Inspiration

It's no longer a war theme, but a challenge to choose a single word.

It’s no longer a war theme, but a challenge to choose a single word.

Winter can be hard on us all. What can we choose to get us going...and stay focused?

Winter can be cold, barren. What word will get us going…and keep us focused?  (picture by Marylin Warner)



Television talk shows have been giving attention to the topic of how single word themes are replacing lists of New Year’s Resolutions. Motivational specialists seemed to agree this is a wise move, selecting a single word to give your thoughts and actions focus throughout the year.

One program asked viewers to Tweet their single word themes. By the end of the segment, these were some of the words scrolling across the bottom of the screen: unafraid, release, balance, achieve, persevere, observe, win, play, simplify, learn. The word that came to my mind was very different.

For several years, I volunteered at the local Women’s Thrift House on the third Saturday of each month. I was often amazed—and sometimes saddened—by the handmade items and gifts that were dropped off as donations. Knitted scarves and gloves, pottery bowls and pitchers, crocheted baby blankets and booties. Some were donated in their gift boxes, and a few still had sweet cards written to the recipients by the senders.

One Saturday eight years ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the handmade items, so at the end of the day I purchased it. The one-word hand-stitched message was matted and framed, and it was like a reminder tapping me on the shoulder: YAGOTTAWANNA

I took the 5”x7” framed message with me to show my mom on the next visit, and I remember she studied it a moment to figure it out. Then she laughed and said, “I think this message was made for you, Marylin. No matter what, when you really, really want to do something, you find a way to do it.”

That was then, and now my one word for 2016 is YAGOTTAWANNA, a reminder that if there’s something I need to do, want to do, hope to do…my first step is to grasp the reason WHY I really, really want to do it. The Why will guide me to the HOW…and the commitment to get it done.

I have three supporters in my corner. The first is Confucius: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Abraham Lincoln is the second: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than anything else.”

Third, and best of all, is my mom, who believed this message was made for me as a reminder that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I really, really wanted to do it.





Filed under art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, writing, writing exercises


Colorado sunrise. (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

Colorado sunrise. (Picture by Jim Warner)

Kansas sunset.

Kansas Sunset   (Picture by Marylin Warner)                             

Years ago, when my dad was in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, during my visits Mom and I sometimes left him with his caregiver and promised to bring him a treat from wherever we went on our ride. It was always a difficult transition for Mom, leaving him behind, so on one visit I brought along a distraction, a CD of songs from Broadway’s most popular musicals.

As I drove along the swath of Ozarks terrain cutting through our part of Kansas, one of our favorites from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF began to play: “Sunrise, Sunset.”  During the refrain—“…sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days…seedlings turn over night to sun flowers, blossoming even as we gaze…”—the Kansas sun set in a blaze of orange and gold and red. I pulled off the highway and stopped to enjoy it.  In Colorado, the mountains are beautifully majestic, but they cut off the view of stunning sunsets.

As we watched the colors, I asked Mom which she enjoyed more, sunrise or sunset. Those of you who know my mother via my stories about her on this blog, what would you guess was her answer?  Before her dementia, on summer mornings she was up with the sunrise to work in her gardens before the heat, and she would pause to breathe deeply and welcome the beautiful possibilities of the day.  Also before the dementia, at sunset she’d watch the glow through her kitchen window or rest in her chair, tablet on her lap, and write lines of poetry or stories about the events and inspirations from the day.  So which do you think she enjoyed more, the sunrise or the sunset?

At my mother's assisted living ~ we know the driver of this car is partial to gorgeous sunsets!

At my mother’s assisted living ~ we know the driver of this car is partial to gorgeous sunsets!

Aubades are songs sung to the rising sun and poems written upon awakening at dawn. My mother kept a notebook of  her aubades, poems of early morning. But she was also a fan of Ann Landers, who wrote in one of her columns, “A happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset.” Based on my dad’s struggles with Alzheimer’s, I guessed Mom’s loyalty to their marriage would choose sunsets as her answer.

She thought for a while and then finally said that her favorite time of day was noon. If the sun was going to be out, it would be at noon, and she liked the energy it gave her to get done whatever had to be done.

Sunrise. Sunset. Noon.  As Abraham Lincoln wrote: “The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.”  And more recently, author of A CHILD CALLED ‘IT’, Dave Pelzer wrote: “At the end of the day you still have to face yourself.” 

Those were the lessons I learned from my mother’s answer that day: We take life one day at a time, and the best we can do is live that day the best we can.

Kansas farm land ~ I'm so sick of winter and I had to use this picture of warm, sunny days...

Kansas farm land ~ I’m so sick of winter, I had to use this picture of a warm, sunny day…

1921 ~ Mom with her brother in the sandbox on the farm, enjoying the sunny day.

1921 ~ Mom with her brother in the sandbox on the farm, enjoying the sunny day in Plattsburg, Missouri


Filed under Abilene Kansas, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations


(statue on the lawn of the Abilene, KS public library)

“Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste..”   ~ Benjamin Franklin

Mom, four years ago Sarah Palin’s television speech renewed interest in the position of Vice-President. When you and I talked about it, I remembered her crowd-pleasing energy and her quip about the difference between hockey moms and pit bulls (the answer was lipstick). We both remembered the camera shot of her youngest daughter Piper licking her fingers and smoothing down a wisp of hair for her baby brother, Trig.

You also remembered another detail: “She’s not the first, you know.”  Geraldine Ferraro had been the first female vice-presidential candidate for either of the main two parties. And years earlier, during a political discussion at a family dinner, you recalled Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice-President Harry Truman (from your home state of Missouri) saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” You and Grandma supposedly had a good laugh at that, because you both doubted Truman had ever cooked a meal in a hot kitchen in his life.

It’s election time again, Mom, and soon Mitt Romney will announce his choice of running mate. It’s strange the things we remember (and forget) about those who ran for and/or served as second-in-command. Ross Perot’s running mate in 1992, Vice Admiral James Stockdale, was disoriented during a TV interview because his hearing aid wasn’t turned on. Comedians had a great time with Dan Quayle and his confusing “Quayle-isms” like this little gem: “I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy – but that could change.” Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s VP, was supposedly drunk during his inaugural speech; Johnson was also considered to be grossly incompetent, and was eventually impeached. And finally—who would have ever thought THIS would work?—Thomas Jefferson’s VP was Aaron Burr. The two were tied in the election, and on the 36th ballot in the House of Representatives, Jefferson was elected President, and Burr became Vice-President.

We can laugh at any number of things about the elections, but the truth is that the Vice-President is only one heartbeat away from being President.  Dick Cheney was “acting President of the United States” for 135 minutes on June 29, 2002, while George W. Bush underwent a colonoscopy. And we all remember the photographs of Lyndon B. Johnson being hurriedly sworn in while  JFK’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, still wore a pink suit stained with the blood of her husband.

Later, Jackie Kennedy would write this: “Even though people may be well known, they hold in their hearts the emotions of a simple person for the moments that are the most important of those we know on earth: birth, marriage and death.”

To this, Mom, I know you would nod and say Amen and wish them all well.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, memories for great-grandchildren, politics