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Losing control not a bad thing

Author Judith Viorst has a friend who went into surgery with a list of instructions taped to her stomach.

"She was unconscious but in control," the writer of the classic "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" said during the YWCA of Clark County's 10th anniversary benefit luncheon Thursday.

As her friend's story illustrates, "there are times we have to lean back and submit," she said.

Control was the theme running through Viorst's speech: "For Peace of Mind, Resign as General Manager of the Universe."

"There is such a thing as pathological persistence," Viorst said before telling another story. This one was about a woman who stood by her husband for years despite his numerous extramarital affairs. The husband ended up leaving anyway.

"Giving up has a terrible reputation," Viorst said. But pathological persistence leads people to stay trapped in dead-end jobs and sick relationships.

Subtle kinds of control that keep a family running smoothly are more positive. Viorst called them "a nudge, a reminder, a word to the wise."

That comes in particularly handy after children have grown up and left home. "We shudder at some of their choices," she said.

One of those choices is having children of their own. Viorst read a poem that listed many of the ills of the world, then kept coming back to the line: "But I still want a grandchild."

Children are one reason to keep going, even when there seems to be so much suffering.

"It's impossible to look at children and not have hope," she said following her speech. "They lift your heart; they represent another possibility."

Those possibilities were highlighted by the staff and volunteers of the YWCA during Thursday's event.

Founded in 1960, the Y now serves more than 10,000 women, children and families in Clark County every year. The services include court-appointed special advocates for abused children, a domestic violence prevention program, and a day care for homeless children.

The rising numbers of people needing help in a time when resources are dwindling can lead to a feeling of helplessness, Viorst said. She urged the crowd of 700 to keep working.

"We need to conduct ourselves as if we can make a difference," Viorst said. "Our actions count."

Full Credit Given for This Story To: Columbian

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