My sister, Caryn Schulenberg is a woman of many characteristics, interests, and capabilities. I will tell you a tiny little bit about her.
For one, she is the most determined and self-disciplined woman I know! When she makes her mind up to do something, she does it, and she does it well! She can stay on a diet like a world champion! She never lets her weight get very far out of hand, and when she goes over a ways, she goes on a diet, and there is nothing that will get her off that diet until she has reached her goal! She walks, hikes and stays in shape. She’s such a good example that her husband, Bob, has joined her in this determination and self-discipline over the years just to keep up with her!
She can write, and she is a good writer! She decided to start this blog many years ago, and she never fails to write something every single day of every single year! That’s determination, and self-discipline! She finds something that interests her, and she writes about it! She has many, many followers on her blog! Some of her stories are funny, some are sad, some are just good information to know, but all are interesting and keep her followers entertained and informed. Her writing also satisfies the need in her “to know.” She likes to know about so many things!
Caryn is unendingly compassionate, giving, caring, and very protective of her family, friends and loved ones! She will help anyone with anything they ask her for help with, and I do mean, anything. She will do her best, and give you all she has to give, even if she doesn’t know anything about what you have asked her to do! She will find out how to do it, and then, go do it! If she says she will do it, she will! She is a woman who can be counted on, and she never gripes, moans, or complains about anything that is asked of her, either. She just does it, or gives it. That’s it!
One of the times her compassion and understanding of, and for, her sisters and her Mother, and her protectiveness toward us, strongly came to her aid and helped her to take on a task the rest of us absolutely cringed from taking on because it was so devastating for our entire family. That happened when our Dad, Allen Spencer, was sick and in the hospital for 4 months! So sick they told us he would die! Any of you who know us very well, know about that time in our lives, because Caryn wrote about it quite a bit after it was over. But from my point of view, this is how Caryn handled that situation, and I, for one, will be forever grateful! We each have our strong points, but Caryn took on the most hated, and horrible task I can think of during that time, and she did it for all of us! She dealt with the doctors! My sisters, our Mother and I all had, and have, the same faith in God Caryn has. Meaning we all believe the same way, and we are all strong in that faith. But I know, for myself, the emotional battering and harsh blows dealt to us by those well-meaning physicians as they reported to us several times a day, was far more than I could stand to receive first-hand! Those reports were truly aggressive and like physical blows in the beginning, and for quite a while! When none of us could bear to face their battering and horrifying, day to day reports, Caryn faced them, and most often, alone! And after she listened to them, and discussed their reports with them, she would then come and talk with us, and she always softened each horrifying report she received from them as much as she could, into a report we could better handle, softened with her faith in God, and pulling from us, our faith in God. Her ability to “run interference” between them and us, gave us the time we needed to compose ourselves, and get our minds on the Word of God, which is the most important thing we can do in our family, in a crisis! Her protective nature in the matter of the doctors sheltered us, and helped us all to continue to hope and pray in faith for our Dad and for his recovery! And he did recover! And he lived two more years in relatively good health, for which we are all so grateful to God! And I’ll tell you, Caryn not only listened to those doctors often horrifying reports, she told them she understood what they were saying, BUT . . . and then she would proceed to tell them what we believed, and gradually she turned every single one of those doctors and nurses to our side. Until they started to say the same things she was saying to them, and gradually, things began to change, and Dad recovered. Every one of those doctors and nurses remember her well, respect her, and always speak with her when they see her even yet today, 15 years later!
Caryn is a wonderful sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother! She is always in your corner! She attends every event anyone invites her to if it’s at all possible. Birthdays, school performances, graduations, showers, weddings, births, funerals, parties, or whatever else is going on. She is there for her family and for her friends. She hates to disappoint anyone in any way! As I said before, she can be counted on even when no one else can.
These are only a few of the zillion things I can think of to say about my sister, Caryn, but there isn’t enough room to put it all down on paper! This, at the very least, gives you a little insight into the kind of person she is, in case you didn’t already know! She is a blessing in every way to all who know and love her! Today is Caryn’s birthday, and I wish her the most wonderful kind of day, and a coming year that is blessed and happy beyond measure! Happy birthday, Caryn! I love you! We all love you! Have a great day!
Before I began writing, I wondered how people…writers, became writers. How did they manage to come up with the material they wrote about? In the years that I have been writing, I have realized that the writers vary as much as the stories they write. Some write from experience, which is partly where I fit in, but I also like to write about events that catch my interest, and about people in my family that I have found something out about. That is very similar to my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren. In her writings, she believed that anyone could become famous, simply by writing about the people and times they lived in. She didn’t specify that they needed any formal training, and I don’t believe she thought they did. She believed that inside every person is a story. She is right, of course.
Laura Ingalls Wilder simply wrote the story of her life, and it became such a popular book that before long it was a television show…all based on the writings of a little girl, who never knew if anyone would care about her stories, or maybe it didn’t matter, because maybe they were her stories, and it didn’t matter to her if anyone was interested or not. Somehow, I can’t believe that to be true. Maybe that is because I know how a writers mind works. Is a writer really a writer, if there are no readers. Writers thrive on readers who become interested in their writings.
My husband’s cousin, Elizabeth “Betty” Noyes is a wonderful writer, and the author of 3 books…the last of which will be out soon. She writes a series called “Imperfect.” Her stories are romantic suspense stories and they are filled with action. Sometimes I think that fiction is a much harder thing to write about, because you don’t have reality to draw on. Of course, when you think about it, most of us do not live the exciting kinds of lives that fictional characters do. Our lives are usually much more mundane, and that is the very reason that excellent books like those written by Elizabeth Noyes are so great to read. They have the ability to take us out of the everyday, into a world filled with action and excitement.
That’s really what it’s all about, you know. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, books take us outside ourselves. My Great Aunt Bertha quoted Charles Lamb, from an 1890 comment which stated, “I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.” See, that is really what it is all about. We like to read because it takes us into the mind of the writer. Their way of thinking, their imagination, and their viewpoint, are all different from ours, and the really cool thing is that we can go visit anytime we open the pages of a book. Its out ticket into the world inside a writers mind.
I’ve been spending some very enjoyable time emailing with my cousin, Dennis Fredrick lately, and the subject of Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal came up again. That is all it takes for me to decide that I need to read it again. I can’t get over the draw that journal has on me. Every time I read it again, something more jumps out at me. Another little tidbit of her amazing personality, because you see, my Great Aunt Bertha was an amazing person. She had the ability to see things around her in a deeper and sometimes, different way than others. Her curious mind wondered about the events taking place, and their impact on the future. And she had a foresight that many people just don’t have. I love her vision.
I didn’t get very far…the first page, in fact…before something new jumped out. She was talking about the dislike many people have of history, and how few want to write about it, except when it comes to family history. I think that is probably because they feel somehow connected to the events of the past, when they think about the fact that their ancestors lived those events. She talked about the idea of people writing about family histories taking off, and becoming a vast project that connected many people. She mentioned that, if writing about family history ever became popular to a wide scale, future generations could read about them centuries from now. Sometimes, I wonder what she would think of her idea of family history studies on a wide scale, because that is exactly what we have these days. Maybe, she could see a bit into the future, and in her mind envision events that were going to come about, much like Jules Verne did with some of his writings.
She encourages people to add to with family history, the human side, because without it, the history becomes dry reading of statistics with no heart to it. Great Aunt Bertha felt that we were living in amazing times at the time of her journal, and while many people would think she meant the 1800s, she did not. She was talking about 1980. I lived through the 1980s, and I can’t say that I ever felt like they were anything so special, but looking back now, I think about the man that many of us consider to be the greatest president we have ever had, Ronald Reagan. Those were days of recovery from the tense days of the 1970s and the big government we had then. They were days when taxes were cut, and government was limited, and things began to get better. The Cold War was winding down, and we saw the Berlin Wall come down at Reagan’s insistence. Thinking back I can see that Great Aunt Bertha was right. The 1980s were amazing days, but then so are many other times in our nation’s history. We just have to look at those days and realize that each generation has its greatness. That was the kind of thing my great aunt saw, but as I said, she saw deeper into a situation than most people saw, and she also saw the value of the insight she found by looking deeper.
The more I write, the more connected I feel to my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren. I have a feeling that we both used writing for much the same reason…a release of the creative side of ourselves when much of our lives were spent taking care of others. Caregiving is something that is very much an exact science. You have to give the right medicines at the right times, and caring for sick and wounded bodies takes precision and proper methods. There is no room for creativity…other than in the use of items at your disposal to make your job easier, whether it be physical items or the use of your mental abilities to work around a difficult moment in the care of a patient who isn’t ready to give over their independence to someone else, after so many years of being their own person. A caregiver has to follow the instructions of the doctors to the letter in order to insure the improvement and continued health of the patient. And Bertha was a caregiver for many more years than I have been. She knew what it took, and what must be sacrificed.
Bertha quoted Charles Lamb, who in 1890 wrote “I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.” It might seem a strange thought, to want to get lost in the thoughts of another person, but sometimes their thoughts are so interesting that it is a desirable place to be. Must of us lose ourselves in another man’s mind periodically. Every time you read a good book, your mind pictures the thoughts and images created by the writer. You can’t help yourself really. It’s just how our minds are wired to work.
I have read Aunt Bertha’s journal several times, but it just never gets old. It seems like every time I read it, I discover some new story, whether it is written in the words or simply exists between the lines. Much of what a writer is like can be found living between the lines of the words they write. That is where their feelings live in their writing. Although I don’t recall ever having the opportunity to meet Aunt Bertha, I feel like I know her well. She has poured her heart and soul into her writing. She has been brutally honest about herself. She doesn’t leave out her shortcomings, but puts them into the stories, regardless of how they might make the reader feel about the kind of person she was. Her objective is not to paint herself as a perfect person, but rather to reveal to the reader the true person she was.
I think many writers would not have the courage to put on paper exactly how they were as a child, worker, caregiver, or person, because they don’t want to show the reader the negative thoughts, or mistakes they have made in their lives. The reality, nevertheless, is that none of us are perfect, but rather human. While Aunt Bertha was not perfect, I truly like the person she was. She reminds me a little bit of myself, and yet inspires me to try to be better than I once was. In her mind, she knows the kind of person she wants to be, and while she failed sometimes, she never quit trying. I find that her mind is truly a good one to lose myself in sometimes.
Our family has several artists in it. Each has a different style. My niece, Chantel Harmon Balcerzak is a wonderful writer, but she is also a very talented artist. Chantel’s art is often done on some of the most unusual canvases. A while back, she painted my mailbox. It now has beautiful vines and flowers on it, and I have received a number of compliments on it. When was the last time someone commented on how pretty your mailbox was? A while, I’ll bet…if ever. The mailbox is not usually something people take note of at all. But, this kind of thing has always been Chantel’s forte. She loves decorating her home, and she has a great talent for it too. And on this occasion, I got to benefit from her talents, and I truly do have the kind of mailbox that gets noticed.
Chantel has never been much of a computer buff, but recently her family talked her into getting a Facebook, and suddenly she seems to like being on there…even though she said she probably wouldn’t do much on there. We gotcha there, Chantel!! She has recently quit her job in the hospitality industry, and has decided that it is time to work on her writing and on selling some of her art, so having a presence on Facebook and other social media sites has become much more necessary. That said, Chantel did get an online store called Treasure Within, where she can display her beautiful work. I especially like her art on old wood. She has a unique way of giving that old wood a new chance to be beautiful.
Chantel has always been a cute and teeny girl, and as she has grown into womanhood and motherhood, that hasn’t changed. She is still a cute and teeny girl of 4’10” and yet living inside her is such an incredibly big amount of talent. I am very proud that she is taking on this new journey. I truly believe that she will find success in this venture, just as she has in every other area of her life. It is a big step to quit the job you have held for so long, but sometimes, you have to take that first big, scary step, simply because to do anything else is to turn your back on your dreams. Chantel has always had the dream of being an author, and an artist, and I know she can do it, because she is also a very determined woman, who knows how to make dreams come true. She is a Treasure Within our family. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!