5/21/12

Lisa Lodge: Don't Worry

I have been thinking a lot lately about worry. It is so easy for people to say: “Oh, don’t worry. Everything will be alright”. Easier said than done, right? Now, I am not going to make this post about my troubles. We all have our fair share. I have been very blessed in many ways. However, from time to time I find worries creeping into my daily living. Instead of focusing on what is going well, I focus on what is not. Or what I perceive to be “missing”. Jobs, money, health, achievement – how much is “enough?” 


Recently, Molly graciously invited me to contribute to this wonderful blog. Thinking about living from a mindset of gratitude became my task for the past week or so. Each day I came up with a mental list of all the things for which I am grateful. The list was long, yet I still felt the old worries creeping in. Then, I looked out my back window onto the pond which I share with the other condominiums in our complex. It is a natural pond which is frequented by a number of different birds: ducks, geese, heron, and even an occasional pelican. 







It has always been relaxing to me to watch wildlife, especially around a pond or lake. The birds don’t worry about what will happen tomorrow, or about what other birds have or don’t have. They just live in the moment. I was reminded of a book that I like by Dan Millman: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In it, a young college student is taught by a mentor to focus on and live in the moment. He learned how to be a human BEING, rather than a human DOING. By focusing on the here and now, perhaps my mind can clearly see the joy in each day – and that joy is something for which I am truly grateful.
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You can learn more about Lisa on her blog:  Pine Ridge Treasures

5/14/12

Jan Thomason: I Told Frank I Had Finally Figured It Out...


The Tank and I were laying in bed the other night talking
about this and that.

One of the things I shared with him was that I had
 finally figured out Oprah's question that hadn't been
  weighing on my mind though I know
 she'd be so proud to know that I had finally figured it out.

I'm a stress eater.

But, I get ahead of myself...

Y'all know that mom moved to the ranch in the middle
of January this year for me to take care of her.
She moved here from a memory center
in Portage, Michigan, where she was residing because
she had onset vascular dementia.
So, we make it to the ranch a couple of weeks before
this............


drove up.
Oh, heavens, that was one big moving van. 
Before I became concerned as to how much room mom's
things were taking up inside the van, I derived a great
sense of satisfaction knowing that whomever was
driving by the ranch as this monster drove up the lane,
would be wondering why we were moving, where we
were moving, had we run out of money? goats?

Center Point is like so many other small towns in that respect.
The sight of this van driving up the lane would give
the old men that drink coffee at the local mini mart
great fodder. Still makes me smile when I think about it.


Here are some shots of mom's things.
Not all of them be any stretch, but, enough that you can
get an idea of what those men pulled out of that moving van.


Oh, the boxes.


The entire mess was supposed to fit into mom's
room - a really decent sized bedroom with a 
sitting area and attached bath. Lots of storage.

But, please! A whole house into a suite?

And, of course, she wanted to start going through
the boxes one...at...a...time, handling, touching,
caressing every...single...item...in...each...box.


This picture is of mom shortly after she arrived.
I remember when I looked at this photo that it struck
me as so odd -- my mom was "old", you know, 
a senior. I had never seen it in her before and 
maybe that's because she was never "sick" before, 
I don't know. But, though she looks different to me here, 
she's still beautiful and 85 this summer.


Mom has to use a walker to get around.
She is a bit frail and her sense of balance is
somewhat off. This is the safest way for her
to get around -- even when re-introducing herself
to the goats. 


So, mom has dementia, she's moved everything
she's ever owned to the ranch and
on top of that, after she had been here for a few 
weeks, she fell and sustained three hairline fractures
in these two bones that attach to the bottom of your
hips. Yeah.

Pain, such pain sitting, standing, sitting.
Nothing that can be done (in the way of surgery) 
and thank goodness she is almost healed and the
pain is lessening weekly because she has really been hurting.
However, even in the middle of hurting she manages to
dig out her sense of humor...the picture above is mom in
a sweat suit, hood up, topped by her heavy robe 
(and an asked for pathetic look) because she 
was/is/is always cold. Someone needs to tell her she's 
in south Texas now, not Michigan.


This picture was taken this Easter, just a couple of weeks ago.
We had just been to church to witness Blake, Clay and
their daddy's baptism (it was so cool).
Blake and Clay wanted a picture taken with Grammy once
we got home. Oh, and Sophie, too.

These are the moments I like to remember.
The ones I must remember to get through the
other moments that fill my days.

I remember growing up, into my adult years, always
fearful that one of my parents would get cancer and die.
The word "cancer" had always scared me and I could
picture having to live through one of my parents getting
sick with "the C word".

Never, however, did I or have I thought that one of my parents 
would develop dementia.

It's a condition that does no apparent 'physical' harm to the person
suffering from it because they don't know that there's
anything wrong. It's the children and all of those who love
my mom that have been the greatest affected.
She has moments with me where she will question "why"
in reference to her confusion and memory loss,
but, except for those moments, 
it's those of us that love her that are feeling
the most pain. And, I'm sure there are many of you
that can relate to that.

And to those of you that are the care givers or have been
the care giver, I know what you're feeling.
I know your frustration, your feelings of inadequacy,
your fear, your exhaustion, the pounds you've added
or the pounds you've lost, those moments of delight that
you share with your parent. I know all of it
and I pray for you as I hope you are praying for me
and all of the caregivers.


AN ALZHEIMER'S POEM
Do not ask me to remember
Don't try to make me understand
Let me rest and know you're with me
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I'm confused beyond your concept
I am sad and sick and lost
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me
Do not scold or curse or cry
I can't help the way I'm acting
Can't be different though I try.

Just remember that I need you
That the best of me is gone
Please don't fail to stand beside me
Love me until my life is done.

Amen.
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You can learn more about Jan Thomason on her blog, The Polkadot Barn

5/9/12

Jan Thomason: You Never Know When God Is Going To Pull The Rug Out From Under You...

...but, when He does, you just go with it using prayer, His strength and deep breaths (you, not God). 

...and it happened to me a couple of weeks ago. 

I'm still reeling but I'm sure it will all settle down soon. 

Ah, heck, who am I kidding? 

It won't settle down until my mother passes or gets to the point that she needs to return to a memory care facility. 

But, it's okay. She's my mom. 


Long story short, my mom has early stage dementia. 

I have four amazing brothers and sisters who have each taken a part of her care together up until the time that I arrived about 2 weeks ago. My mom lived in Michigan. Kalamazoo, specifically. She was diagnosed in this psychiatric hospital for geriatrics (love that my mom was in a psych hospital. Special). 

She was then moved to a memory care facility which was absolutely beautiful. Had her own suite - it was huge - and an amazing staff. 

Don't get the wrong idea - all of that beauty and good care comes at a price. 

You'd think if they were going to charge what they do, they'd lose the funeral drapes. 

It was decided that she didn't need that much attention and after she had told three of my siblings that she wanted to live on the ranch with Jan and the puppies (we have four rescue dogs), I got the phone call. 

What am I supposed to say?? 

I said "yes", of course. 

According to her O.T., she functions at the age of a 3 year old and needs constant supervision. 

gre-a-a-a-a-a-a-t-t-t-t. 

So, I drove up, spent two weeks, helped pack up everything she owns that she wanted to move to Texas - enough to fill a moving van partway - loaded her, her dog and her walker, etc. into the car and took off for Texas. 

We're home. She's settling in. 

Keeps telling me she's taking a bus to Kalamazoo for Christmas. 

My mother on a bus? 

Horrors. 

Glad she doesn't know what she's saying. She'd freak. 

Here's a poem that I want you to read, especially if you are taking care of an early onset dementia patient. 

It's an amazing read: 

AN ALZHEIMER'S POEM 

Do not ask me to remember 
Don't try to make me understand 
Let me rest and know you're with me 
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand. 

I'm confused beyond your concept 
I am sad and sick and lost 
All I know is that I need you 
To be with me at all cost. 

Do not lose your patience with me 
Do not scold or curse or cry 
I can't help the way I'm acting 
Can't be different though I try. 

Just remember that I need you 
That the best of me is gone 
Please don't fail to stand beside me 
Love me until my life is done. 

Amen.
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You can learn more about Jan on her blog, The Polkadot Barn

5/7/12

Cat Kerr: Bike Rides

Joshua still enjoys bike riding and when the weather is nice we take a spin around and visit the neighborhood. 


If daddy’s home, he comes to and there is nothing better than spending this time together. 


We often stop in the neighborhood park and take in some shade 


And then we race underneath a nearby bridge that slopes down giving us enough speed to zoom, zoom, zoom…it always makes me feel like a kid again. 

I like bike rides too. 

They make me happy and thankful. 

These are the days.


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You can learn more about Cat on her blog, In The Light Of The Moon.

4/11/12

Keeping A Gratitude Journal

A great way to take stock of the positive things in your life is to keep a Gratitude Journal.  There are many pre-made journals available online and at bookstores - here are a few examples:






You can also purchase a blank journal to track what you are grateful for. The toughest thing sometimes is figuring out what to write. On her website, "Living Life With Gratitude", Kirsti A. Dyer gives some examples of journal writing prompts:


  • Real life isn't always going to be perfect or go our way,
    but the recurring acknowledgment
    of what is working in our lives
    can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties. - 
    Sarah Ban Breathnach

    Take a moment to think and reflect before you start writing then consider the question:
    "What is working in your life?"

  • Appreciation of life itself,
    becoming suddenly aware of the miracle of being alive,
    on this planet,
    can turn what we call ordinary life into a miracle. - 
    Dan Wakefield

    After reading this quote, think about this question:
    "What are some of the simple things in your life for which you are grateful?"

  • We can only be said to be alive
    in those moments
    when our hearts
    are conscious of our treasures. - 
    Thornton Wilder

    Pause for a moment and reflect upon the question:
    "What you have or who is in your life that you hold dear?"


    Hopefully this will give you some ideas to get you started in your own Gratitude Journal.
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    Do you already keep a Gratitude Journal?  If so, how has it changed your outlook?

    If not, which one of these questions stood out to you and why?

  • 3/30/12

    Patty Gasparino: That Moment



    Sometimes in life we have those moments that stop us in our tracks and bring us to our knees. Without going into too much detail we had a health issue with one of our boys. It had gone on for months. We finally got to the point he was referred to a neurologist – scary for anyone. 

    The day after his appointment he was sent for an MRI with and without contrast. It was a complete disaster – him not eating, the machinery, they immobilized his head – he was scared, tired and hungry. Then he had a reaction to the dye and we ended up in the emergency room. Up to this point I had no fears - no gut reaction to what had happened. I had no reason to think he wouldn't get better. 

    Until an ER doctor discharged us and leaned over me and said, “You should call your neurologist tomorrow, your son has a 5mm spot in his parietal lobe.” 

    I remember asking him what that meant – he said he couldn't tell me. I can tell you the hallway froze around us. The air was drawn from the room. My legs moved in slow motion. I am not sure how I made it to my husband who was waiting for us. 

    Nothing in life prepares you for this – nothing. 

    I will tell you we spent the worst night of our lives. Thoughts of our children, how our lives would be forever altered, how their lives would be altered, how our hearts would break. 

    Neither my husband nor I slept. Our gift came in the morning when we received a call from our pediatrician saying the ER doctor was mistaken our son had a NORMAL anomaly. I practically fainted from happiness! 

    I can only tell you to hug your children, tell those you love how much and pick up the phone and call that friend you haven’t spoken to – life changes in a breath. 

    Be grateful to feel the sun and rain, laugh and cry, because it is a gift to be alive every day. 

    I am grateful to be given the gift of another day and I say a prayer for those who weren't.
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    You can learn more about Patty on her blog, My Life Under The Bus

    3/28/12

    Riki Schumacher: Grateful


    I have been extremely busy this winter with my jewelry business. Busier than I have ever been. I should be grateful for this, and I am. But it has kept me from some very important quality time with friends and family for many months now.

    But my grateful message isn't about that! It is about this moment, on a calm Sunday morning, sitting in front of my fireplace, the rain pouring outside our windows, that I am over flowing with appreciation.  We just got a phone call from our son, he checks in every Sunday, we love that. And while my husband is filling him in on the week, I hear the conversation being about how busy I am, and how cool it is, and how he is so proud of my accomplishments. My heart swelling with love, I was reminded of how supportive my husband is.  Not complaining that we don't go play, or go do things, just always there to help me in my endeavors.

    How did I get so lucky to find such an amazing and generous man? I don't know the answer, but I am so very grateful.
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    You can learn more about Riki on her blog, Riki Jewelry