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Thank you for visiting our new internet Health & Wellness site! 

Welcome to Illinois Inspirations, a site open to everyone in Illinois seeking to enhance their mental health and wellness.  We are glad you visited and hope you are pleased with what you see.  We strive to bring you hopeful and positive messages and welcome your posts. The Open Forum is a place you can post to directly.  Material for the other categories must be submitted to me via email due to space limitations.  Please be sure all postings have a positive aspect.  For questions, please email Kenneth.polky@hrcec.org

Let us give thanks

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

So before we complain (and I am as guilty as the next person), let's take a good look at what we have instead of what we don't have. Let us give thanks for our bounty. Remember how we have been blessed this year. There has to be something. Probably a lot of somethings. And don't forget to remember our brave soldiers on foreign fronts fighting to keep us safe and free. God bless.


"If You Can Only Be One Thing, Be Kind!"  (includes excerpts from Dr. Linda Henderson-Smith's presentation of 9/29/17, Memorial Behavioral Health)

One of the most difficult challenges many people face during their recovery journey is how to reconstruct their social life and still "feel safe."  As Bloom (2013) suggests "We must begin to create naturally occurring, healing environments that provide some of the corrective experiences that are vital for recovery."  It is not easy to rebuild trust in others and in ourselves.  Trusting someone involves taking risks and being trustworthy involves honesty and genuineness.  What trust and forging new relationships (or trying to heal old ones) doesn't require is perfection.  We will continue to make mistakes throughout our life and at times disappoint others and ourselves.  We will continue to wrestle with negative emotions as we experience some of the unpleasantness that comes with our interactions with family, friends, and the many others we don't know who cross our paths. 

We may process such thoughts as "that was rude," "I can't believe he totally ignored me--didn't he see I was next in line,"  "here we go again, or the only time she comes around and acts nice is when she wants something from me!"   Sometimes it seems it would be easier to just withdraw from our relationships altogether and not have to deal with them anymore.  The problem with isolating ourselves socially is it is very difficult for us to heal without a supportive relationship of some kind.  If we avoid others and are afraid to let anyone get close, not only are we not giving others who might want to be a part of our lives a chance--we're not being kind to ourselves or supportive of our capabilities.  We should remember what helped us get this far in life, even with all of the struggles we've had to face, acknowledging (Dr. Linda Henderson-Smith):  "I am a person people can love, I am happy to do nice things for others and show that I care, I make it a priority to be respectful of myself and others, I take responsibility for what I do and say, I can talk to others about things that trouble me in a mutually constructive manner, I've learned from my past experiences and how to solve problems that I face with the support of others, and I am resilient and hopeful about my future." 

We and the people in our lives will never be perfect, but that shouldn't stop us from showing kindness, patience, reassurance, and acceptance to others and ourselves. Here are a few examples of what might "Hurt" or "Help" our relationships with others in distress (Dr. Linda Henderson-Smith):  Asking questions which suggest there is something "wrong" with the person (Hurts); asking questions for the purpose of understanding what events may have contributed ("what happened to you?" versus "what is wrong with you?") to the problem (Helps); judgments and prejudicial statements (Hurt); understanding the role of culture and differences in perspective (Helps); regarding a person's difficulties (or our own) only as symptoms of mental health or substance use disorders (Hurts); and recognizing symptoms and questionable  behavior are often a person's way of coping with or adapting to traumatic experiences and memories (Helps).


Just a thought from Patsy

Summer seems to be winding down with shorter days and cooler nights. I have to say I love fall the best of all but there will be some summer things I will miss. Mostly being in the garden with the freshest of veggies. Picking tomatoes for BLTs and salads but first of all eating a sun warmed tomato in the garden with juice dripping down my chin. Peppers are now at their peak and stuffed peppers line a shelf in my freezer. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and open my front door to find bags of sweet corn, zucchini, and peaches on my front porch delivered by a blessed neighbor. No one ever takes credit for this but I know who they are and am so very grateful. I am sure walnuts and pecans will be next.

But I won't miss 90 degree days dripping with humidity and the ever present wasps that consistently build a nest under the eave in my garage. No amount of spray seems to deter them. But lawn mowing has slowed down considerably and I am grateful for that. So I guess it is a trade off. I think that is what life is about. Getting past the bad and being thankful for the good.

Sorry I have been away for so long and I promise to do better. There are a couple of folks working on stories of hope and I hope to add one too. Please visit our guest book and post your thoughts and suggestions and I am asking for all of you to send me a story of hope to add to our blog. We are always grateful for your visits.


Just wonderin' from Patsy

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?


A Note From Patsy

I have to apologize for neglecting the blog for so long. I made a decision when we created the blog that if I couldn't write something positive, I would not post. The last few months have been very hard for me. I have a chronic health condition that has worsened and it sent me into a depression. I have been there before and I know if I can just hang on, the light will shine again. And with peer support, WRAP and help from my doctor, I think I can see a sliver of that light. So I curl up in a chair with a cup of chai tea, a copy of my “Me Well” Star and watch The Real Housewives on tv. Lol. I do feel my spirit lifting and peace returning. Thanks for being so patient.


Just wonderin' from Patsy 

Why is it called Scotland Yard if it's not in Scotland?


Just a note from Patsy

April usually isn’t a good month for me. I do not like the rain. And my friends know that I do not like the rain. My mouth turns down and I get grumpy and depressed. But I wasn’t always like this.

When I was still working, one rainy day I took the money deposit to the bank about four blocks away. It was raining and I grumbled all the way there. But on the way back, something magical happened. I began to think of Gene Kelly and the song “Singin’ In The Rain.” And guess what? I started to sing that song and then my feet took over and I began to dance along with it. I had a big red and white umbrella and that umbrella and I danced down the sidewalk. I worked in a large city and there was a lot of traffic passing by. I splashed and danced and spun and held my arms out with that red and white umbrella twirling in my hands. People in the cars honked and gave me thumbs up and had big smiles on their faces. Smiles while driving in traffic? Heck that was a miracle in itself.

So I danced the four city blocks back to my office and we had a bus stop out front. No one was there, so I stepped up and continued my shuffle across the bench then stood on the arm rest and floated down to the ground just like Gene would have done. I saw my boss at the door and with a grand sweeping gesture of his arm, he said “Get in here” and I two-stepped, tapped, and twirled myself right up the steps and into the building. My co-workers stood and applauded and my umbrella and I took a mighty bow. It had sure lightened the mood of everyone there.

Then reality clicked in as I headed to the back room for a towel to dry my hair. I sat down at my desk and shivered in my soaked shoes and damp clothing but it was worth it. For just a little while, I was singin’ and dancin’ in the rain and I loved it.

And I think I may still have that umbrella in the back of a closet. I may have to check and dig it out. Mr. Kelly, I hope I made you proud.


Just a thought from Patsy

Is it really Spring? Is the sun actually shining? Shhhh, don’t say it too loud or it will hear us and go back under the clouds.

It is time to exhale. Let out that breath you have been holding all winter thru the cold, snow, ice and howling winds. You can actually breathe as you open the gas bill. Put away those snow shovels, snow boots, gloves and thick winter coats . Now, there is more room in your life. Take a deep breath and let it out.

The trees are budding and the robins are running across the law. There is still a chill to the air but now the light is different. Falling different, casting different shadows. Spring shadows. Sure to make you smile and sure to let you breathe.

So open your chest and take in that air. The air of green grass, birds singing, flowers emerging and most of all, the sun shining. Let the air go down to your toes and up to your brain. Ahhhh. Doesn’t it feel good?



Just a thought from Patsy

Is anyone else having trouble with leprechauns?  They always show up at my house around St. Paddy's and cause so much trouble.  I see them out in the yard, hiding behind trees and telephone poles.  They try to hide well but I see their shoes with the wee turned up toes. 

I went out the get my paper this morning and I felt a pinch on my hinny and sure enough, there they were.  I could hear them laughing as they ran away.  I had to put a letter in the mailbox and I took a broom with me and tried to keep them at bay when I was out there. 

The fairies swooped in and tried to help me and there were lots of twitters and high pitched arguing but I was able to get back in the house without any more bruises.  I can see the fairies sitting on the stump in my front yard keeping watch.

I wouldn't care so much if the leps would bring me some gold but they keep it all for themselves.  How much would it cost to keep a leprechaun?  They surely wouldn't eat much and their little suits shouldn't cost more than a couple of dollars.  They are just mean spirited but once in awhile there is a kind one.  And they do make wonderful shoes.

Keep watch if you are out today!  They seem to be all over the place.


Just a thought from Patsy

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.” ~~Barbara Bloom~~

When I read this quote, it made me smile. How many of us would shimmer if we filled our damages with gold?

First of all we would need to repair the physical problems. Cuts, bruises, surgical scars, burns, etc. would need to be lovingly dabbed with gold leaf. Broken bones and torn muscles would be put back together with casts and plasters made of liquid glitter.

But most of all, we would need to fill in the wounds of the spirit. Just imagine it. Some folks wouldn’t need much. A small dab here and there of shimmer would take care of it. But some would need a caulking gun filled with illumination. How many of us would blaze! Would we feel differently towards some if they radiated healing? If they walked into a room and the light given off blinded us, would we smile?

I think some have been put back together with gold. They walk into a room with their shoulders back and their heads held high and they radiate with healing and gratitude. The brightness shining from them is dazzling and they can’t wait to share it. They want to spread the light and splendor that comes from the recognition that healing is possible and it is glorious. Hard work sometimes yes, but that only makes the shine more brilliant. The gold may flake a bit but more can be added.

Gold is a precious metal, but the human spirit is more precious than gold. We can have a clearness and brilliancy that can be passed onto others. Let’s get out OUR power sprayer and fill it with liquid gold. The gold of our empathy and patience. The golden words of comfort, wisdom and guidance. May we all shine.


Just A Thought From Patsy:

 In the midst of howling winds, below zero temps, dripping faucets and frosted up windows, I received a gift in the mail yesterday.  My first seed catalog of the year!  Now for many of you who do not garden, you may not understand my delight.  I am sure I looked like a fool standing by my mailbox wrapped in a coat, scarf, stocking cap and gloves and doing a happy dance right there on the ice and snow.   

Gosh, how I look forward every year to the grants of free catalogs from the many seed sellers in our country.  Tempting cover pictures of green beans, red tomatoes, orange carrots, and yellow peppers encourage my senses and make my mouth water.  Right now in our local market, there are just shriveled up beans, whittled down carrots, those light red tomatoes that taste like nothing, and peppers for $2 apiece.   

I settle in a chair in my pajamas and wool socks and with a steaming cup of chai tea, I slowly open the cover of this wonderful catalog of hope.  Yes, that is how I look at it.  Hope on the page.  What a gift it is to plant a withered, shriveled up seed and know that with good soil, a bit of water and lots of sun, I can eat like a queen.  I know that later on when I actually put in the garden in the spring, I will tell you all about the soil and plants and help from my cat, Beau.   

But for now, I grin at the pages of vegetables, fruit trees, grapes for the arbor, rose bushes and climbing vines.  For me, spring is on the way!  Hey, a girl can dream can’t she.  


Just a thought from Patsy:

Here it is the end of the year.  I was reading Ken's posting on the Open Forum from 12/18/14 and it made me think of a poem I had written in 2001.  Things seem to change but still remain the same.  I thought I might share it with you.  I am not a great poet, my style is more Dr. Seuss than Keats but it does express my thoughts.

New Year’s Eve 2001


The end of a year

Already, so soon?

Can’t believe it, you say

Time seems to zoom.


But time stood still

On that fateful morn,

When two buildings came down

And the Pentagon burned.


The hurt is still fresh

As 2001 ends,

As we gather and sing

With our family and friends.


We blend and harmonize

To “Auld Lang Syne”

The voices of the young

And those touched by time.


The sadness we feel

As we think of those gone,

Brings a tear to the eye

When we sing that song.


But newborn babes

In their mother’s arms,

Coo and giggle

And show off their charms.


We can’t help but smile

At their chubby little faces,

As we wonder what’s in store

For the future of these babies.


I don’t know a lot,

But one thing‘s for sure

God is in heaven

And still loves the world.


So on  New Year’s eve

Let me offer this verse

Of sadness and hope

And dreams for this earth.


I can’t help but think

That In spite of it all,

Good guys still win

And bad guy still fall.


So as I bow my head to pray

And bid this year adieu,

The hope in my hearts says,

Happy New Year To You!


Just a thought from Patsy:

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.” ~~Shirley Temple

When I read this quote, it made me stop to think that sometimes what we say to children can seem innocuous to us but to the child can be life changing. Here is a famous little girl who could act, dance, sing and she had the fame and money many crave. Then she goes to see Santa and what he says to her alters her beliefs. I can almost see the sadness in her face as she realizes things are not always as they appear. Now at some time, we all realize Santa isn't real (well okay not for me as I still watch the radar on tv to see where he is on Christmas Eve) but for her to remember that, it had to have made an impact. Many times, we chuckle when a child stops believing in Santa Claus but I think children need the comfort of something to look forward to. They wait all year to make out their lists and send their letters to the North Pole. We see them with stars in their eyes as they sit on Santa’s lap and whisper their wishes and then the joy as they see the presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  We forget that waiting for something for a year is a long time for a child. And we need to realize that they are not just waiting. They are hoping. And isn’t that what it's all about?

I wonder if Shirley’s Santa wannabe got coal in his stocking that year? Hmmmm?


Just a thought from Patsy

As we sit at our Thanksgiving tables and reflect on all that we have, let us be grateful for those things that are meaningful to us.  We are grateful for the hands that grew the food and the hands that prepared it.  Family and friends that sit with us now and those who have passed on.  The shelter over our heads and the sun, snow or rain outside our windows.   Our dedicated co-workers and the folks to whom we strive to bring hope and peace.  For the country we live in, though it is not perfect, that has provided us with so many opportunities and freedoms and for our armed forces who have sacrificed so much.  Our hearts overflow with thankfulness.  So for all of these things that bring hope and joy to our lives, we are truly grateful.