To New Beginnings!

Today is July 4, 2016, which I celebrate with my country as Independence Day. As it would happen, three little persons in my home this morning were reenacting an enormous battle, the Battle of Little Big Brothers. I was sleeping. Until I wasn’t.

Sometimes, a warning shot over the bed will do to quiet the rebels. But when they get truly overwrought, only a nice, calm lecture will do. It’s a method of which brain works. Slowing down the argument without directly talking about it, while talking about, oh, say, history, changes the brain gears and gets them working in a new direction.

If I do say so myself, and I do, this morning’s lecture was inspired. It went something like this:

What is today? Yeah, Fourth of July. What else do we call it? Sure, we call it Independence Day. Why do we celebrate today? (insert surface notions of freedom and autonomy)

Eldest said, “We celebrate gaining our freedom from Great Britain when we signed the Declaration of Independence.” Perfect launch pad.

Actually, the Declaration wasn’t the end of anything but just the beginning. Some might know the day the revolution ended, the day we were verily on our own, but that’s not the day we celebrate. We celebrate the day the decision was made. The day we put pen to paper and held ourselves to our convictions. That’s the day heralded by marching bands from east coast to west. That’s the day designated for sun and fun and gathering by twos and fours and tens to celebrate. To reflect. To light the sky.

If you think about it, we often celebrate beginnings: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries of everything from marriage to forming companies to losing our addictions. We enjoy the promise of beginning. We mark our calendars lest we forget. We plan and prepare to party, rejoicing in one another.

It’s the kind of optimism that founded a nation. We wrote some words and signed some names and let the ink dry while we forged ahead. What can be easily forgotten is the work that follows a beginning. The revolution. The babies. The marriages. The real life that follows every beginning. It’s hard. It’s sometimes brutal. The joy of making the decision evaporates in the melee of the doing.

Only months or years later do we celebrate. Only then do we forget the hard work and remember the decision, the occasion, the elation.

But we can make a new beginning right now. We can hit the reset button on this day and choose for it to be calmer, kinder, better. No more fighting. Enjoy one another.

I’m writing this post a couple hours after the fact, and it’s definitely not verbatim. But it is the message.

All those long years ago, some men got together and declared independence. Then began the work. Theirs, their wives’ and children’s and parents’ and friends’. The battles roiled. Lives ended. Freedom was paid. But the work didn’t stop. They had to form a new government, echoes of a very old government. A republic. A democracy. They had to decide how their freedom would echo to new generations through laws, through traditions, through it all.

There were missteps. Painful, shameful errors in judgement, strategy, tactics. It has not been all sunshine and firecrackers since that day the ink dried. It has not been all beer and barbecue. It has not been all parades and rock ballad tributes.

We’re in one of those tough places even today, our anniversary of deciding to become independent. That was one beginning, but we are on the cusp of another. We must decide yet again to be free, to be a republic, to be a democracy. We must determine individually whether the legislature is comprised of politicians, of the cream of society’s crop – its smartest and bravest and best, or of everyday people – those most knowledgable in how legislative outcomes impact actual people.

We must decide who will lead the country and what limits that person must abide. We must choose a path. It will be in ink on every ballot. What is at stake? Freedom. It’s as simple and complex as that. Freedom from governmental oppression and individual tyranny. Freedom of movement, of thought, of speech, of worship, of defense. Freedom from mortgaging our very lives to the banks that fought for nothing.

I don’t presume to tell you how to vote, how to be involved, how to see your country free. But it took a fight among my boys this morning for me to gather my thoughts on the beginning our country now and continually faces.

To new beginnings!


Review: A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos by Linda Brendle

As an author with Anaiah Press, I have the privilege to review Anaiah’s releases. The first release is A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos by Linda Brendle, and I have waited fairly patiently to read it. Before a proper review, however, a few disclaimers:

  1. My parents lived in an RV, traveling the contiguous U.S. and Canada for my father’s work as a funeral home OSHA inspector. In the early days (and some late days) I thought this was a crazy way to live. I mean, who could stand all that travel? Why would anyone commit themselves to such a small space for such a long time? Of course, I’d lived in the same house on a hill in rural Oklahoma for all of my first 17 years, so the logic of small and nomadic was…foreign.
  2. My first real encounter with Alzheimer’s occurred when I met my husband’s grandmother for the first time. He had tried to prepare me, but I was unprepared. Catherine, a name that lives close to my heart now, was so progressed in the disease that she was forever locked away inside herself. No longer capable of speech or free mobility, Catherine received the loving care of her patient and husband.
  3. I, like everyone, have two grandmothers. They were different in many ways but they both loved me. Both of their earthly stories drew to close in dementia. My mother was a caregiver for her mother. My father provided support but lived too far away to be a daily caregiver for his mother.
  4. My mother is on a liver transplant waiting list. One effect of a diseased liver is the build up of ammonia in the body, which impacts brain activity. Ammonia disruption ebbs and flows with the disease, and I’ve watched my mother and father wrestle with when dementia is in play and when it is not. We’ve all learned the signs and symptoms, and, thankfully, medical intervention can continuously whisk away the ammonia and its impact.

In equal parts, I wanted Ms. Brendle’s book and I didn’t. I thought, as you might be thinking, that it would be altogether too difficult to read. And I thought there would be comfort in reading it. I also thought, she must be insane to take two people with dementia out of their daily living situations to an existence that was new every day!

Linda Brendle writes a ‘creative memoir’ based on a travel journal written while on an extended road trip in an RV with her parents, both of whom suffered dementia. The book maintains the travelogue essence with a dash of looking forward and backward to give moments clarity and significance.

I somewhat know how life with dementia patients is, so I was initially thrown by the book’s ability to select moments from different times and weave them together. But this aspect became a strength of the book because it revealed the process of living through a complicated time. In the moment, things can be frustrating and dark, so much so that you cannot see anything else. Reflection is key to survival and key to this book. Ms. Brendle reflects on life at different stages to place the frustrating, dark moments in context. In so doing, she relieves the reader of the pressure of every moment and guides the reader through reality-plus-reflection. The writing is not laden with the ugly sides of caregiving because those bits are consistently buoyed by brightness.

Just as I still don’t think I’d move into an RV for my husband’s job, I don’t think I’d take an extended vacation with two dementia patients in an RV. But I can appreciate those who do. From my parents’ love of the road, I learned to appreciate their lifestyle. From Ms. Brendle’s attitude of taking life as it comes, I learned to appreciate her choices. I also learned that daily life rhythms exist everywhere. What first may seem pedestrian – washing dishes, watching water levels, settling – are the very details that provide the rhythm to the reader and, I feel certain, to the real lives shared in this book.

Today, while you celebrate Independence Day (if you’re American, that is), consider all the forms independence takes. Our forefathers sought independence from monarchical rule. Our nation still fights over independence from a great many institutions. I take this opportunity to honor the soldiers, their families, and all who dedicate their lives in any portion to serving our nation’s independence, most especially when we cannot all agree on what that means. I also take this opportunity to honor each person, American or otherwise, who strives daily for independence – from tyranny, certainly, but also from disease, from bad decisions, from whatever ills plague us. National independence and personal independence are too interrelated to ever be completely separated. Without a national independence, our personal independence wavers and falls. Without our personal independence, our national independence wavers and falls. This is the crux of Ms. Brendle’s book and the reason I chose to review her book today. By maintaining her independence – to travel as she willed – she supported her parents’ independence on a level they could achieve and sustain. Such is the striving of us all.

Happy Independence Day! May you maintain your independence to support the sustainable independence of others!


Released by Anaiah Press


Sometimes reality really bites. Alzheimer’s has wrapped Mom’s brain into knots, vascular dementia has attacked Dad, and, instead of carefree retirees, we have become caregivers. Regardless, dreams die hard, and we somehow stumbled into the purchase of a forty-foot motor home. That’s when all four of us set out on this seven-week trek across sixteen U.S. states. Now, Dad stopped-up the toilet again, Mom wet her last pair of clean jeans, and David just announced that he was hungry. My head is beginning to pound, and I know this isn’t going to be the easygoing retirement we’d imagined for ourselves.

Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving. Whether you’re looking for an inspirational story to help teach you how to “let go and let God,” considering becoming the caregiver for one of your own parents, or are just looking for an entertaining travel book, this story is sure to strike a tender nerve.

Buy Links

Barnes & Noble



A Bit About Linda Brendle

After 15 years as a family caregiver, Linda began writing to encourage, inspire and amuse other caregivers. She loves to travel and since retiring has traveled mostly by motorcycle and RV. She and her husband live in a small East Texas town where she gardens, writes and attends church.

Linda Brendle’s Site




A Bit About Anaiah Press

Anaiah Press is a Christian digital-first publishing house dedicated to presenting quality faith-based fiction and nonfiction books to the public. Our goal is to provide our authors with the close-knit, hands-on experience of working with a small press, while making sure they don’t have to sacrifice quality editing, cover art, and marketing. Books will begin to be released in digital formats beginning in Summer

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