Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

2015,  My Dad

“I just need to work it off,” Dad says whenever he has an illness or any physical trial. He grew up on a farm and made his living working construction, so work for him has always kept him physically active. He’s a talented heavy equipment operator, but has never shirked from digging with a hand shovel if needed. My parents taught me how to work at a young age. No excuses were ever accepted. My dad still goes to work every day operating equipment and some days when they’re short-handed he’s also found with a shovel doing the hand work. He’s amazing and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Dad believes work will cure whatever ails you. I’m proud to be his daughter.

Work for me is sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Tapping my fingers across the keyboard or calculator as fast as I can isn’t much of a workout. I have to intentionally exercise to be physically active and I haven’t been able to do much of it lately. I’ve noticed my mood isn’t as pleasant as it should be and I don’t feel as well as I do when I exercise or can spend time outdoors hiking, biking or gardening. I’m missing my Vitamin D and unfortunately, summer ends in a few short weeks.

I shouldn’t complain because I’m surrounded by people who have physical challenges that make it difficult to be active. A few are like Mark and it’s impossible to do exercises on their own. At the rehab center most are concentrating on therapy to build strength and improve coordination.

I’ve notice a few people which resist therapy. I’ve heard a few say they don’t need it or give excuses to get out of it. Others push themselves with exercise and hope the insurance company will prolong the benefit because they feel the improvement. I suppose it all depends on the circumstances and their pain tolerance, but it’s evident to me that the ones who push themselves are the happy ones.

“You’ll be surprised what you can do when you put your shoulder to the wheel,” is a phrase my dad said to me often. “If we all put our shoulder to the wheel we’ll get this job done in no time. Many hands make light work,” are the encouraging statements I grew up with. I can’t sing “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” without thinking of Dad. If you haven’t heard it, here are the lyrics:

  1. The world has need of willing men
    Who wear the worker’s seal.
    Come, help the good work move along;
    Put your shoulder to the wheel.

Put your shoulder to the wheel; push along,
Do your duty with a heart full of song,
We all have work; let no one shirk.
Put your shoulder to the wheel.

  1. The Church has need of helping hands,
    And hearts that know and feel.
    The work to do is here for you;
    Put your shoulder to the wheel.


  1. Then don’t stand idly looking on;
    The fight with sin is real.
    It will be long but must go on;
    Put your shoulder to the wheel.


  1. Then work and watch and fight and pray
    With all your might and zeal.
    Push ev’ry worthy work along;
    Put your shoulder to the wheel.


Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909

What does put your shoulder to the wheel mean? The metaphoric term, alludes to pushing a heavy handcart as many pioneers did. The dictionary states: “To apply oneself vigorously and make a concentrated effort.” I’m inspired by those who do. .http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/put+shoulder+to+the+wheel

Last week while I was visiting the new Neuroworx, Dr. Dale Hull said, “there are some sad stories here of people and their struggles, yet this is a happy, positive atmosphere.”

“No surprise to me,” I said. “In our years of experience, I’ve noticed people are happy when they are striving for self-improvement.”

I try to imagine what it’s like to be trapped in a body that can’t function like most of us do, with ease and with little thought. How shattering it must be to lose abilities you once took for granted. It must be disheartening to see others move freely with capabilities you were never given. The world has need of willing men and women who wear the workers seal. I’m so grateful for those who come and help the good work move along by putting their shoulders to the wheel. I appreciate many who do their duty with a heart full of song. I’m inspired by the need for helping hands, with hearts that know and feel. The work to do is here for me and you, so lets put our shoulder to the wheel.

It’s a proven fact that exercise is good for us physically and mentally. It doesn’t matter what your age or limitations are. Everyone benefits from being as physically active as possible. It’s why I work and watch and fight and pray with all my might and zeal. Therapy for Mark is a worthy work which needs to be pushed along. If it isn’t, he suffers with blood clots and joints that calcify and are no longer able to function. Some days I wish I could stand idly looking on, but the fight for improvement is real. It will be long (a lifetime long), but must go on because it’s better than the alternative.

I’m trying to do as I’ve been taught. Working energetically towards a goal. I realize we all have work and I don’t want to be the one that shirks.

I was raised with the philosophy that work cures whatever ails you. If it can’t cure you, at least it makes you feel better. I’m grateful for a mom and dad who taught me this valuable lesson.

How Art Heals

The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, indicates that an idea can be conveyed with a single still image. The visualization makes it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly. Art is a language universally understood.

Christopher, 8 yrs. old. My home office desk. I love the detail on the phone and it ringing message. I'd forgotten about my clear phone which  allowed you to see all the wires and parts inside the phone. He's drawn that detail. Also my footstool under my desk.

Christopher, 8 yrs. old. My home office desk. I’d forgotten about my clear phone which allowed you to see all the wires and parts inside the phone. He’s drawn that detail along with the adding machine tape running over on my desk. I also love the ringing message and footstool under my desk.

When I was a child my mother encouraged me to draw and color. Although I wasn’t very artistic, I found coloring in a book relaxing and an enjoyable diversion. She also urged us to make birthday and get well cards for family and friends on a plain white sheet or construction color paper, adding our own words. My mom continued this same tradition with her grandchildren. She supplied the needed materials for my two children in making cards for us while we were in the hospital. My sister-in-law, Dianne, did the same while the kids were at her house. To this day I treasure these drawings and homemade cards. It gives me insight to how they were feeling and what they missed or were struggling with. It made me feel closer to them at the time I received the artwork. When I look at it now, I appreciate it even more because it magically reconnects me to them in their younger years.

Christopher's drawing of his dad's home office desk. I love the details and the message on the computer screens message. May 1991

Christopher’s drawing of his dad’s empty desk. Great detail which brings back the memory of our old cumbersome monitor. I love the message on the screen. May, 1991. Eight years old.


Children are naturally creative and it may be easier for them to draw a picture than to answer questions directly. Art can relieve stress, increase awareness of self and develop healthy and effective coping skills. Artwork is a non-threatening way which may allow a child to tackle tough issues in a creative way without words. Children of all ages, nationalities and cultures can benefit from art, but make sure the art supplies are age appropriate before you set them free to express themselves. A simple prompt may be needed to help get them started, such as asking them to draw a house or favorite food or toy. Some kids will pour their hearts out on the page, while others may require more inspiration.

I don’t see children coloring very often. If they’re indoors, I usually see them playing with toys or electronics for entertainment. Now that I’m reminded of the benefits of art, I’m going to have coloring books, crayons, pencils and construction paper on hand for them. I don’t want this to become a lost craft.

This activity can be easily done at home, but for more serious issues a professional art therapist may be helpful. They are educated to help a child cope with the following:

  • The death of a family member or friend
  • Childhood trauma involving physical, mental, or sexual abuse
  • Learning disabilities
  • Emotional issues like fear of abandonment or phobias
  • Improving cognitive abilities
  • Dealing with the challenges of serious diseases like cancer
  • Treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression
  • Helping children understand and deal with physical disabilities
  • Understanding and treating behavioral problems

If you feel your child could benefit from a professional art therapist, pick one who has experience treating children with the same or similar issues your child is struggling with. Ask friends or family members for recommendations. A medical or mental health professional may also have referrals. Don’t be afraid to meet with the therapist first to get a sense of whom and how he or she works. Ask about their education and credentials and make sure they have the proper licensing and certifications.

Resource: http://www.arttherapyjournal.org/art-therapy-for-children.html

Art can be a creative outlet for adults as well. If you’re feeling stressed or down in the dumps, art may be just what you need to jump start your life and get you feeling better again. There are adult license art therapist available to help you cope with more serious issues. How art helps:

  1. By its very nature, it allows the artists to express all kinds of different and complicated emotions such as: fury, fear, sorrow and anger.
  2. It helps the artist to understand themselves and the purpose of their life.
  3. It activates the creative side of the brain.
  4. Art is a language unto itself that does not need to be spoken, but only appreciated.
  5. It can act like a vase would to flowers and be a place where dreadful thoughts and emotions can be put away forever.
  6. It will help you to get closer to the people who mean the most to you.

Resource: http://www.arttherapyjournal.org/why-art-therapy-is-beneficial.html

Art may be worth a thousand words. Have you given it a try? Everyone has an artist ability. I need to throw out my self-doubt and not worry if may work doesn’t look as good as my children’s or any other’s. What benefits do you believe come from art?