WINTER REFLECTION

Red cup of coffee and old book on wooden table
“…for experience, the only true knowledge…”
Herman Milville, The Confidence Man

Winter season, along with warm traditional Holidays, brings on the serious time of year, it seems to me.  Unlike Spring, Summer and Fall when we’re more distracted by happenings outdoors, Winter can be a time to curl up by the fireplace and take stock.  We gather the highlights, include the lowlights, recognize that we’ve another year of growth behind us and get ready to start afresh January one. No matter what transpired this last year, we’re coming into the home stretch of 2016 and we can chalk this and all our years up to “our” personal story. Our own precious history, always unfolding, full of the unexpected, rarely what we might have predicted it would look like at any point.

Having lived nearly seven decades, through some serious highs and lows, I could look back and say, “If I had the chance, I would change this or that and life would have been so much smoother or much easier.” I could, but I won’t.

I wonder how many Caregivers look at their current lives and say, “I’m really happy I get to do this.”  That’s a tough one.  When we’re in the midst of life’s challenges, few of us, I suspect, are stopping to say we’re happy about it. I remember saying to myself, “Why does it have to be so hard!?”  Caregiving is hard, it can be backbreaking and both mentally and physically exhausting.  No time for yourself or others you’d like to be connecting with. It seems to be never ending. But, you know you’re going to do it anyway.  You love those you care for.  You’re the best one for the job and you want it done right. But, HAPPY about it?  Perhaps GRATEFUL is the word.

It’s only now, with sixteen consecutive years of Caregiving (for three different loved ones) behind me, that I can see the beauty of it all. That took time and distance.  Today, nearly four years after, I’m GRATEFUL.  I’m grateful for those days that were so hard.  That took so much tenacity.  I know how strong I am.  I can handle tough times, new situations and emergencies. It took a few years distance and a long history of living to recognize that each seaming period of life had its reasons.  All my experiences were absolutely necessary and came along at the perfect time.  From childhood to young adult, to wife and mother, to business owner, to Caregiver, to blog writer for Caregivers, was just what I had to experience in order to be able to handle my story as it continues to unfold. 

Life is never a-piece-of-cake for long.  How boring would that be?  Even during great times, you still have to figure out what to do everyday and how to deal with all the people and situations that surround you.

Experience is life, I hope as you reflect during this Winter season you’ll give yourself the gift of feeling GRATEFUL for your own unfolding unique story.  I’d love to read it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Kindness: Attempting To Walk In Another’s Shoes?

INDNESS: Attempting To Walk In Another's Shoes?

The word KIND has come within my purview several times in the last few days. Does it make sense to discuss kindness? I think it does. Will it change the nature of those who don’t understand that they are not innately kind? Probably not, it’s nature after all. What it might do, however, is soothe the hurt caused by those who are unkind. They often mistake kindness for weakness, or as a threat (people don’t like to be reminded of their shortcomings). Reinforcing that kindness is good and it’s right under any circumstances serves everyone well in the long run.

There’s no way to know if most Caregivers are kind. But, I’ll venture to say that most kind people are Caregivers. Kindness is akin to compassion, yet not the same. One who attempts to walk in another’s shoes and tries to provide what they think is needed for that person, with no benefit to themselves, is being kind (a type of kind that’s done when no one is looking). Interestingly, a kind person recognizes immediately when someone else is being kind, and they’re grateful. It’s the little things, like making sure another is included in a conversation. Or, that something they have accomplished is recognized by others. The instinct to notice that someone is being left out is compassion, doing something about it is kind.

In conversation with a close friend recently, I could feel his hurt that his children and siblings hadn’t shown up when he could really have used some help caring for his father. This is a man who shows kindness everyday in many ways, the ultimate Caregiver. He brings flowers to his wife regularly, just to make sure she knows she’s in the forefront of his mind. A sick friend gets chicken soup whether they want it or not, as soon as he’s aware they’re sick. When his brother needed him, wasn’t he always there for him? So why did his brother not offer to do something, even just be there for an hour so he could run some errands?

Who knows? Is it that the brother doesn’t get how hard it is, he just assumes that because you always take care of everything, you’d ask for help if you needed it? Maybe he’s selfish and just doesn’t care? Maybe it’s all of these. It’s too complicated, you’ll never figure it out. So how do you get past the hurt, the lack of kindness and compassion shown toward you?

In my experience, the best way to get past emotional pain is to recognize and greatly value your own freedom to be who you are and nurture it. Somehow you are that kind and caring person you would hope to be. Aren’t you the lucky one? Maybe you’re an old soul. Maybe the brother is a baby soul, just learning to crawl and has no clue yet that walking is the way to go. May I suggest that you do your best to let others be who they are. Let everyone be free to be who they are without your judgement; with its rewards, consequences and all. Everyone is living out their own lives as best they know how. It’s so liberating when you let go of being part of someone else’s actions!

Cherish freedom! Be happy you are who you are. This is what works for me when I feel hurt by someone else’s action or inaction. That is, after my heart hurts a little and tears start to well. We’re all human right?

Big Hug!


 

 


 

PS:  Serendipity strikes again!  The day I wrote this blog about kindness, I received the NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE below. If you would like to receive a personalized note each weekday, go to tut.com and signup. I’ve been receiving them for about seven years and they help me start my day on a high note!  I know Mike Dooley, went on one of his fabulous Adventure trips, the one to Italy in 2012. They’re cruising the Tahitian Islands in March!

NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE

To touch someone with kindness, Patricia, is to change someone forever.

Heavy, huh?  That’s nothing.

Because for everyone you touch, you also reach everyone they will ever know.  And everyone they will ever know.  And everyone they will ever know.  And so, for the rest of all time, your kindness will be felt, in waves that will spread, long after you move on.

Muchas gracias,

The Universe

Don’t ask what happens on a bad day, Patricia. 

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