Confessions of a Book Junkie!

book junkie

Ok, I admit it, I can’t walk past a bookstore without going in and browsing, usually buying. Definition of a junkie: 2. One who has an insatiable interest or devotion (thefreedictionary.com). Amazon sends me packages regularly and Barnes & Noble gets my walkin business weekly, at least. I’m fortunate enough to live within a mile of one of the great sites in Los Angeles, The Grove & Farmers Market. Several times a week I walk to this shopping area and often stop for a “new read” on my way to breakfast or lunch. That way I only have to carry it one way. Ouch!

There’s a great little bookstore, Chevalier’s, in Larchmont Village, within two miles of my home. I can chat with the owner endlessly and she always has great suggestions. She’s figured out what makes me dream and feeds my interests. Recently, she said, “You just have to read TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, reading it is so different from watching that great movie with Gregory Peck.” I left with it and THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES by Edmund De Waal, PARIS by Edward Rutherfurd, something by C. S. Lewis and a book on Taoism. SUMMER READING!

Books are my babies these days. It wasn’t always that way. I wish I had learned how calm the world around me could be at an earlier age. Reading sweeps you away and returns you with a new perspective to your own world. I didn’t get the fever for reading until around age twenty-six. A friend had recommended a romance novel. It was quite titillating so I read another. That one seemed too much like the last one. I had the idea to go to a used bookstore and found it quite fascinating. Where did I start? ANNA KARENINA popped out at me. I was hooked. History and romance while I escaped! “Wait, I thought I hated history.” Oh, that was high school history. Not the same.

So what’s permanently sitting on the little table next to my reading chair? Always, Mike Dooley’s books: MANIFESTING CHANGE AND LEVERAGING THE UNIVERSE. They are like bibles for me. Anything Mike writes is inspirational and his new book for children is marvelous as well as beautifully illustrated; DREAMS COME TRUE, ALL THEY NEED IS YOU. Also, A SENSE OF BEAUTY by George Santayana, I dog ear my books (I know!), because I want to go back again and again to the passages that have helped me design my life. I found a two book set of short stories by W. Sommerset Maugham on my bookshelves recently and have no clue how long they’ve been there, a find from a used bookstore I’m sure. I read them for diversion, he was such a marvelous writer. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald, he sweeps you to a time and place discussing the lives of interesting people. It seems to me everyone is interesting if you get to the heart of their story.

I’m not planning on reforming. I know my voracious appetite for reading is how I learned to mold my life to a shape that’s fulfilling. Everything we ever wanted to know about ourselves, our world and beyond, our minds can glean from the available information that other soles have written. We just need to be discerning.

I hope my readers are READERS. Books are a Caregiver’s friend.

I wish you serenity and adventure.

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What Can I Do to Help?

help

If you know a Caregiver and would like to do something for them, please do it. Don’t just think about it. Don’t wait till later when you think you’ll have more time. You’d be surprised at how even a small kindness might be appreciated.

Be realistic, offer to do something that you’re good at and with which you’ll follow through. The Caregiver needs to know that in accepting your offer they can feel safe. Consider the situation as if you were in their place. With what would you need help? By all means ask what you might do, but don’t be surprised if you’re told, “Nothing, thank you though.” Caregivers are not used to getting help and want to make sure things are done properly or they will feel that they’ve failed or were selfish at a cost to the person in their care. It’s their nature. Show them that you sincerely want to help and will do a good job.

You need to make a suggestion. You might say something like, “I could come over on Tuesday for two hours while Joe is resting so you can go do whatever you want to do.” Even if it’s for just one time, that would be great. Several family members could take turns at something like this. Be creative.

Most family members don’t know what it actually takes to be in charge of another’s life. I’m here to tell you; it takes physical energy, decision making, nursing skills, management of doctor appointments and medicines, equipment assembling, cooking and feeding, shopping for food and other necessities (often from the drug store), driving, dressing, cleaning…..need I go on? They’re usually going to want to handle the paperwork, insurance issues and legal work themselves, but there’s that, too. Did I mention MONEY and TIME? In which of these areas could you be of help? Did I mention MONEY and TIME? Maybe you can afford to pay someone to do something for a Caregiver, if you don’t have the time. Every little bit helps.

All this and more needs to be done while the Caregiver is managing their own life and maybe there’s a family involved. Some Caregivers are working full time, have children and are caring for an older parent that used to be helping them. Is the caregiver an older spouse taking care of their husband or wife? Do they need someone to stay with the person in their charge and have someone else go with them to a doctor visit as an advocate to make sure they, themselves, are getting good care? Here’s an opportunity for two friends to team up.

Please notice that on each page of my website there’s a message box. I would love to hear from any of my readers who have a suggestion for something that can be done to help a Caregiver. I post on Facebook and Twitter and so can you. Getting this message out to as many people as possible could help hundreds of thousands of Caregivers. I’ll post many of your ideas in a blog soon, so please tell me what you have done or what you would like to have someone do for you (it will be anonymous, of course). What have others done to help you that you’d like to share? I’ll share how others helped me in that upcoming blog, too.

I wish you love and creativity.

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A Peaceful Transition

peaceful transition

My father passed away just two months ago. I feel as if he’s still with me. Each evening around 6:30 PM I still pause to think about calling him, as I and my three sisters and aunt did at various times of day for years. It’s nice to still think of him at that hour. Maybe he knows when I’m thinking of him lovingly.

When the fear of death has it’s grip on us, we can’t appreciate the beauty of the transition for the person who is passing. The thought of losing them is so very stressful. Once they’ve passed, we can be tortured from the loss. All of that stress and misery gets in the way of what could be a loving experience. I wanted to help my father transition as peacefully as possible. I was more comfortable with death now than I was when my husband and other loved ones had passed. We had the luxury of time to prepare my dad. My sisters, niece, their spouses and my aunt were wonderful, we each contributed in our own way.

In the three years since my husband passed, I have read dozens of books on subjects that have helped me to come to an understanding of what I believe is the human spirit and the energy of life. I believe that we (our spirit) come into our bodies and this world by choice. When we pass out of the body at death, we transition to a different level of consciousness. It’s only the human body that is born and dies, not the spirit. I see my own and everyone else’s time here on earth as a learning process. An opportunity to evolve and transition into the next place at a higher level than when we came into this life. This is the foundation that has helped me peacefully deal with the loss of my father’s physical presence.

Without going into the individual personalities that were involved, I want to tell you a few of the main things that I think helped my dad transition more peacefully than he might have. It is just our story. Each family has their own.

My dad was a very emotional man, so we knew when he was upset by something. One day a few months before he passed, while driving to a restaurant for lunch, he became sad and tears came into his eyes. I asked him what was the matter, he said, “I don’t want to leave you and I’m dying.” He told each of us how he felt from time to time, and we just talked to him as best we could until he came out of his sadness or got distracted. This time, it occurred to me that I could use an experience he had when he was a baby in Sicily. I had heard the story so many times growing up and suddenly it seemed the perfect thing to help him transition.

At around three years old my dad had encephalitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the brain and, I understand, can be fatal. He was unconscious for a least a month. The way he told the story was that he saw himself from up above his bed, looking down at himself, his mother and the doctor. His mother was crying, hysterically, because the doctor was telling her that her son, my dad, was going to die. That’s all he told us. He never talked about any details like we might hear from so many others who have had out-of-body experiences. He had been a baby and that’s all he knew.

It flashed into my mind that he might feel more comfortable about passing if he could relate that experience to the transition of dying now. I reminded him of the incident and asked him to remember that he was going to die at that time. There had been no pain and no stress in his body. But, he was a baby and didn’t want to leave his mother. He was a little boy then and if he lived he could have a good life in his young body. So he decided to stay and his spirit came back into his earthly body and became healthy again. I told him that when he did decide to let go now, when he was ready, it would be similar, he would know that he was leaving this earth, but he would decide not to come back. He was 90 years old with Parkinson’s Disease and his life was not a pleasure anymore. Of course, I told him I would miss him very much, but I would know that he wasn’t suffering anymore and that he was with me in spirit. Tough to say even now. But, like my husband, he needed to be told it was OK to decide to let go.

Not long after, he started to decline rapidly. The more he declined, the less emotional he seemed. One of my sisters and I were with him during the seventy-two hours he was “actively dying.” My niece was with us often. Another sister and her husband came from far away to say goodbye, and another who couldn’t physically make the trip, spoke to my dad on the phone several times even after he was not conscious anymore. We didn’t involve my aunt at this point, it would have been too hard on her. That was a difficult phone call to make after he passed.

The seventy-two hours was so long and unexpected. During that time my sister, who was a nursing assistant, and the caregiver at the house where my dad lived took care of him physically. Together we maintained communication with him as much as possible. I believe he was aware of everything going on and we respected that he would know everything being said and done for him. We talked to him as we would have if he were conscious, in a way. I believe we helped him let go as peacefully as possible. He certainly knew he was loved.

Everyone’s situation is different, but, I believe that sharing our stories can help others when the time comes that they need to draw on their knowledge and strength. I hope this story helps others who will spontaneously come up with their own ideas to help their loved ones pass.

Hugs,

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