Freedom to Create

freedom to create

Everything changes from moment to moment. Tomorrow will not be the same as today, you’ll be a little bit farther down the road of your personal journey. We can’t speed up time. We can only change the illusion of time by using our fabulous creative talents to alter our experience.

For those that are feeling less than free and possibly a bit depressed, I’m going to share my craziness with you. It’s worked for me and maybe it can help you live happier days, even better than I because I had no example to follow, only an intolerance for suffering and depression (my own). I was working by-the-seat-of-my-pants to keep my head above water. Today I would have a roadmap, I know it works. These are examples, you will create your own.

DREAD-to feel extreme reluctance to meet or face (Merriam-Webster definition). That word is not allowed in my world. You can choose to NEVER GO THERE. You wake up in the morning in a neutral position, maybe you’ve had sleep and maybe you haven’t. If you can’t be optimistic, which is the best attitude, be neutral. Your thoughts and assumptions dictate your experience, REMEMBER THAT! Expect to have a good day (all things being relative).

It’s hard to say when something flipped, I never thought of myself as funny or that I could be entertaining. I’m a pretty sober person and can be a bit too serious, I have to admit. My husband was the charming, funny one. But, when he was too sick to create fun anymore, I had to lighten things up a bit. It was survival for both of us. He was too weak to walk on his own and couldn’t see where he was going so we had a way of walking together. He faced me with his hands on my shoulders. I would walk backwards to our destination. This was an opportunity to dance. We could walk and sway a little as I would sing whatever song came to mind: “I’m walking to New Orleans, She used to be my honey, Till she spent all my money.” Or, “Tea for Two, Two for Tea.” He loved it when I sang, “Ain’t no Sunshine when she’s gone, Only darkness everyday.” It didn’t matter that I can’t sing a note, it made it funnier and he loved it. I could be funny!

I would deliberately involve him in a decision that I knew I could make on my own. Even a little thing like which paper towels to buy. We created a way of shopping in a grocery store with him in the wheelchair. We had a cardboard box that was just the right size to fit on his lap and had openings on the side that he could hold onto while I pushed the chair and filled the box. Of course, I had to do the big shopping without him, but, this was a way of his feeling like he was contributing, also, a reason to get out of the house. Just because a person is sick, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be involved in daily activities. It helped me to have his input and feel like I was taking good care of him while he functioned at a higher level than he would have if just sitting in a chair, mindlessly waiting for the inevitable.

It’s a bit of work, but we used to go to restaurants often. We frequented the same places so the managers and servers knew us and helped with our needs. This was a great diversion for both of us. It took up time in the day, allowed me to be waited on and have a nice salad and a glass of wine, while he could have what he wanted, depending on the state of his health. If I had to bring something special with us, so be it. I began to feel like I could do anything that worked for us, even if we were out in public. People are really nice and try to be helpful. With both my husband and my father, when a restroom was necessary, I took them to the ladies room. Not one woman or child ever objected. We went right into the handicap stall and that was that. Managers at restaurants prefer this, I learned, when we had to sign a paper saying my father would not go into the mens room anymore, alone, after he fell and was slightly bruised. I never asked, I just did what we needed to do and no one ever questioned us.

I, also, took advantage of time my husband had on the telephone with family or friends (which you might need to encourage because they are afraid to call and disturb you) to get on the computer and play on Google Earth. This was a great time for me. I traveled to places I’d never been. For example, I walked the streets of Reggio, Calabria, imagining myself on a trip to meet my relatives in Italy that didn’t even know I existed. This was a vision that later became a reality, after my husband passed. Your thoughts are your future world and that was when I first started to dream big. At the time, it was a way to detach myself from my current world just to relax. I didn’t know it would actually come true and I could play with a purpose.

Today, I would elaborate generously on all the things I did, and more, to keep our spirits up. Instead of fearing change, embrace it. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the inevitable changes that you face. Give yourself the opportunity to design the days ahead, they’ll be much better days. And, you’ll handle the current days with more grace. You will come away from your time of Caregiving with pride and peace of mind.

I wish you Love and Creativity.

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To be Free

to be free

The concept of “freedom” brings a different image to mind for each of us. The desire to be free is strongest for us when we’re feeling confined. I’m talking about individual freedom here, because, in today’s blog, my concern is for Caregivers who may be feeling that they’re stuck in place. If you can’t go about progressing toward your desired life, you don’t feel free. You feel trapped. Your spirit can get bogged down and your heart heavy; you may be depressed, even while you’re doing something good for another and doing it out of love. You may feel that it’s impossible to change things right now. What if that’s not true? What if you could change things and feel more free?

I believe feeling trapped can be looked at as a state of mind. That there is a way to look at your current situation from a different perspective. It takes a very strong mind to convince yourself that things aren’t the way they seem. But, you could view your current life from another angle. Rise above it, mentally, for a new look.

Haven’t we established that caregivers are smart people; that they take on the world because others are depending on them and they can? I hope I’ve conveyed that idea through other postings. Caregivers are living out their life’s journey with an opportunity to do what’s needed for someone else. There’s a reason for that. It’s an opportunity for growth for all concerned. It’s part of the big mystery. I like to call it the dance of life. A load feels lighter somehow, if you can dance through it. Smart people can rise above the crowd and do what’s right for themselves as well as others.

In the next blog, on Thursday, I’ll share some of the ways I “psyched” myself through my toughest years as a Caregiver. I have even more ideas now and I’ll share those with you, too. Until Thursday, maybe you could start thinking about what you could be doing to see yourself from a different view point. Remember, creativity and love is what makes for a great life. So let’s get creative. You’re already a loving person.

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Time to Think

time to think

“I need time to think,” I would say to my husband. He didn’t quite understand. But, I fought for some time to step away from my current life. This always helped me look more objectively at my situation. I needed to keep myself from drowning, mentally. Your brain cannot focus only on your caregiving 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without something snapping. It needs to recharge and rejuvenate. It needs diversion and escape. In the last couple of years of his life, when I had sold my business and was nearly cut off from the outside world, I needed it most. He was blind and nearly deaf besides being in the late stages of congestive heart failure and unable to walk. No one knew how to take care of him like I did. But, there were some who could manage for a short time.

For a few hours, three days a week, whether he understood and agreed or not, I was able to manage some time. There are many ways this can happen. First, you need to understand that it’s a must. You might not even express it in words, like I did. You’ll know you are unhappy, or frustrated frequently. You might be angry and find yourself apologizing for your behavior often. If it sounds like a great idea to have some time to think, it may be more necessary than you recognize.

I realize now, that over the years, I had made friends with very caring, giving people without knowing how grateful I would one day be for knowing them. I speak about them in my-upcoming book at length. Here I want to give you ideas that will help while you’re creating your own “time to think.”

My husband’s grandson (I claim him as my grandson now) came every Sunday for years to cook with his grandfather. Even when my husband couldn’t cook anymore, they still shared the time together, first with Ty doing all the cooking and eventually, with just sitting together and talking. It was wonderful for their relationship and generous toward me. I had five hours every Sunday to do a little shopping, maybe browse the bookstore and have a meal out, being waited on at a restaurant. What a treat!

During the years when it was possible, our next door neighbor, Bob, a very kind man, would take my husband and two other gentlemen from the neighborhood to lunch, wheelchair and all. That started as a way for all of them to improve their days.

I have a friend, Eva, who came to the house two mornings a week for three to four hours, did mostly housekeeping at first, which became less over the three and a half years of serious illness. This time, on weekdays, allowed me at first to continue seeing a few clients a week in my office. Later I used the time to see a doctor myself, or go to a market or drug store. Sometimes I could meet a friend for coffee!

Neighbors and friends would drop in for a visit and that was always nice for some diversion for both of us. And, of course, there were times when I called someone in a pinch for help, but, here I’m talking about organized time for yourself that you can count on consistently.

If you’re not inclined to ask for what you need, maybe a family member that you can discuss things with could send a note to friends and family, suggesting some things that would help you and see if there are any volunteers. People just don’t know how to help. If they knew that you needed two mornings a week, two people could come by for two hours each. But, they don’t know if you don’t tell them.

“Professional” advice will tell you to arrange “respite” care for yourself. Many insurance companies pay for two weeks of respite care a year. There was no way I was ever going to be away from my husband for two weeks. Neither of us would have agreed to that. But, if it works in your case, it would be a good idea. You still need time to yourself on a regular basis several times a week, however.

If you must hire people to come in, I hope you will make it a financial priority. Time to think is not selfish, or indulgent. It’s as important for your loved one as it is for you. If you’re not in good health and are mentally unstable, how can you take the best care of the person in your charge? Your lives are intertwined in this dance and your ability to oversee; to observe from a distance and act on what needs attention, will determine how much self-respect you have when all is said and done. Please arrange for “Time to Think.”

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Your Magic

magic

Your magic, have you found it? Do you know what it is? Do you know you have magic inside you? We all do. It’s a special knowing. It’s there alright. Waiting for the right moment for you to feel that tiny little thrill when you recognize it. It’s in a place where no one else goes, ever. There’s a kind of light that switches on inside you. The light is your essence beginning to illuminate. Do you know that little thrill?

If you haven’t found it yet, it’s because it’s in the development stage. It’s manifesting itself through the life you’ve chosen to live so far. It’s waiting for all your ducks to be in a row. What you’ve lived so far has been necessary to get you there. It’s OK if things have been difficult. They were meant to be that way, to prepare you for your magic. Caregivers are lucky, they can see that they’re in a kind of holding place. They are taking care of someone because they chose to do that as a path to their magic; the magic they can experience here, on earth.

It’s beautiful when it unfolds before our consciousness. There’s no regret for not having found it at a younger age. We know that it took the lifetime we’ve already lived, with all it’s ups and downs, happiness and sadness, to get us to the sweet place of knowing.

You can prepare for your magic’s arrival. You can accept your current situation with grace. You can go about your daily tasks nurturing your essence, by taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, to the best of your ability. If you’re reading this blog, it’s because you desire more for yourself and you’re getting closer to your magic.

If you know your magic and are not moving forward with it, there’s a reason for that. Your essence needs a little more nurturing. Be patient and know that grace and creativity will get you to the place where you’re loving your life. Where you feel fulfilled and want to share your happiness through your magic.

In my next blog, I’m going to talk about “time to think.” It’s a very important part of nurturing your essence and bringing your magic out into the open. Until then, be a little creative, do something nice for yourself. Feeling a little pleasure brings more pleasure to you. I wish you MAGIC!

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Trust After

faith

A phrase has stuck with me for the last few days- “Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith and trust after.” Learning to trust our basic instincts, I believe, has been conditioned out of many of us. I struggle everyday to pay attention to the thoughts that pop into my head, and act on many of them. This is new for me, and maybe for many caregivers. We’re often the cautious one in the family. We listen to our head and not our hearts so much. We’re so busy with what we think is the most important of things to get done, that we leave filling the “vase of our soul” till last. And, surprise, it’s often left empty, again. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get to it. Metaphorically, our flowers whither and, eventually, die. Our health then suffers and depression often sets in. If, instead, we listen to our heart (our essence, really) as well as our head, it will tell us what we need to fulfill ourselves and how to best take care of the people we love.

If you look at your caregiving as a gift to another person, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. You will know that while you are giving you are building a better self. This is not selfish or self centered. Because of a shift in your outlook, suddenly life is better for everyone around you. How could that be wrong? “It’s better to give than to receive.” We all know this phrase and we know it feels good to give. But, what if “it’s better” means better for your health, for your happiness, for accomplishing the mission that’s yours only in this life? “It’s better” because it brings joy to you and gives the person in your charge, the one who’s in this dance with you, what they need to fulfill their destiny. There’s growth for you both here, really great growth. If you can go about your caregiving with creativity and grace, then, I would say, you’ll come away from it with peace. With no regrets. And that’s lovely!

There’s a wonderful movie that I highly recommend: ENCHANTED APRIL. I watched it on Netflix recently. It has caused me to notice “lovely” when I see it and want more of it in my life.

So…what does a leap of faith look like? You start by stepping away from yourself as you go about your day. Quietly and mentally observe yourself, as if you were watching a movie. Would you admire that person? Would you want to be like that person if you were in their shoes? Can you see where there might be room for improvement? How could the main character go through their days with more grace and creativity? What would help them improve their situation?

Take the leap first, start by spoiling yourself a little. Be creative, think about where the opportunity lies for you to steal a few minutes for yourself. It might be when your loved one is napping. Or, you might plan to take half the time you usually take for a certain task so you can squeeze in a half hour of reading or watching a program you’ve recorded. You might take 15 minutes to prepare a special snack for yourself, one that you’ve specifically planned for while doing your usual shopping. Exercise. Wherever your mind takes you when you ask yourself, “what would I do for myself if I had the time?” MAKE that happen like you make everything else that you think is important happen. I promise, do something for yourself everyday and it will lighten your heart and your load. You will walk with more grace in your step, and be happier for it. You will feel more powerful. That power will give you more strength. You will see the big picture and continue to observe yourself from afar. You will know that you’ve elevated yourself to a new level in life. You’ll be wiser and not need to dwell on the problems. You’ll just handle them as they come, one at a time because you know you have all the tools (ideas) you need. Creativity and grace.

This gives you the “Trust After.” Baby steps were easy to create when you looked at yourself from a distance. You trust yourself. Lovely!

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