Jun 30, 2013

Prayer in Action

"When you pray, move your feet." African Proverb

What an amusing way to say that prayer needs to contain action.  It is not enough to sit and think about doing good; one actually has to do something that benefits others.  In benefitting others, one always benefits oneself as well.  As caregivers we are always doing something to benefit someone else, but there are many, many other opportunities to help others too.  What service can you provide today?

Jun 29, 2013


"There is One Mind, and all the powers and privileges which lie in any, lie in all; and I, as a man, may claim and appropriate whatever of true or fair or good or strong has anywhere been exhibited." Emerson

It is said that if you admire something about someone else, you already have that capacity within yourself.  Ralph Waldo Emerson is saying the same thing above.  We are all interconnected.  Whatever any human has thought or done is available to us all.  Einstein's ideas are said to have come to him from inspiration, which is saying that they came to him from One Mind.  There are many evidences that whatever is known or whatever traits have been exhibited in any human, is available to each of us.  Who do you admire?   In what ways are you like that person?

Jun 28, 2013

What We Believe About Ourselves

One comes, finally, to believe whatever one repeats to one's self, whether the statement is true or false.--Napoleon Hill

This is so true.  If we believe we are and deserve to be healthy, or happy, or prosperous, or well liked --- it is so much more likely that we will be.  Studies in human behavior support this.  Our beliefs about ourselves (and others) do create the lives we lead.  It is so important to consider our thoughts -- whether they are about ourselves, others or our environments.  We do come to believe what the contents of our thoughts tell us.  A good way to check this is to just randomly check in and notice what the content of our thought is.  You may be surprised.  Research tells us that over 70% of human thought is negative or redundant.  Let us choose to put the marvelous efficiency of our human brains to better use.  Let us think thoughts of well being, gratitude and benevolence.  Our very health will be the better for it. 

Jun 27, 2013

il dolce far niente

"Il dolce far niente means the sweetness of doing nothing." Sally Robbins as quoted from the movie, Eat, Pray, Love

As caregivers, there is never a time when we have the "sweetness of doing nothing", yet these periods are essential to our souls.  We are driven by to-do lists, commitments, demands on our time, doing the work that two people used to do.  Taking breaks is imperative.  Breaks from our calendars, from our list of to-do's, from our responsibilities.  If you provide 24/7 caregiving, I urge you to schedule respite for yourself.  If you are a fulltime or part-time caregiver, it is imperative that you schedule time away from the demands of caregiving.  We do not necessarily need to go somewhere, although a change of scenery can refresh our minds and spirits and lift from our shoulders our list of things we feel we need to do.  We can just clear our calendar, or - better yet - schedule YOU into your calendar a day - at the minimum - to just BE.  You will be the better for it.  So will the people for whom you have responsibilities. 

Jun 26, 2013

Life's Challenges

"The wound is the pace where the light enters you."  Rumi

We have all heard the expression:  the wounded healer.  After years working professionally in the mental health field, I have seen the effectiveness of a healer who has walked the walk of the person seeking help --- if the healer has completed the journey within that experience.  All of us have challenges which wound us.  These challenges often occur within interactions with other people.  The mystics who live in caves -- in cartoons, at least -- may have it easier than the rest of us; as they do not have the greatest fodder for spiritual growth:  interaction with others.  Being a caregiver for someone is one of life's challenges.  Just having the responsibility to make decisions on the behalf of someone else is daunting, especially when those decisions run counter to what the person wants.  As we face our challenges, let us remember that it is through them that the light enters us.  It is through our challenges that we become more mature and loving humans. 

Jun 25, 2013

Our Mission

"Here's a test to determine whether your mission on earth is complete.  If you're alive, it isn't." Richard Bach

A funny example that I have heard others use, but - seriously - have you ever thought about what your mission is?   Most of us will not touch billions of other people through media like Oprah has, nor will most of us invent something that will make us billionaires - like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  But, I think we do all have missions.  The missions may be small.  In fact, I think they usually are --- just affecting the small group of people with whom we share space in life.  But the impact is no less significant, albeit on a smaller scale.  How we show up in life and how we treat ourselves, others and all life is our mission.  If we are alive, then the mission is not complete.  We can still grow in treating ourselves and all other life with love, respect and dignity. 

Jun 24, 2013


"When the mind is peaceful, inner energies wake up and work miracles for us ---- without any conscious effort on our part." Deepak Chopra

Pretty significant reason to work toward a peaceful mind -- to have miracles appear effortlessly.  Having a peaceful mind proves harder for us humans than one would think.  Sometimes at night I am unable to get to sleep because my mind is like a hamster on a wheel.  At those times, it is difficult to rein it in.  Most of the time peace can come with practice, but there will be those times of challenge when that is difficult.  In those times mantras can be of help.  One that has long worked for me is, "All is well."  Just saying that over and over seems to bring peace.  What peaceful mantra works for you?

Jun 23, 2013

Self Determination

"Reexamine all that you have been told  . . . . dismiss that which insults your soul."  Walt Whitman

I so enjoy the wisdom of the great poets:  Whitman, Emerson, Mark Nepo, Mary Oliver.  Lyrical language with condensed wisdom.  When I look back over my life, I am astounded at what I have been told that really is not correct.  We look back at our ancestors and think how foolish they were to think the world was flat, but just in our lifetimes there has been so much information which has been corrected.  For instance, not knowing the damage of nuclear bombs when they detonated them in the Nevada deserts, the discovery that there are galaxies beyond our own, new awareness of the interconnectedness of all life.  But, I think Whitman is speaking of more personal things.  What have we been told that limits who we are and how fully we express ourselves?  Whatever is limiting to life is best jettisoned. 

Jun 22, 2013

Joy In Place of Fear

"I had the choice to come back . . . .  or not.  I live my life now from joy instead of from fear."  Anita Moorjani

Anita Moorjani, whom I referred to yesterday is probably someone you have heard.  She was on PBS as part of Dr. Wayne Dyer's program recently.  During the near death experience that she had, she came to realize that all that was asked of her by life was to be herself -- and that as a daughter of God, that meant she was acting out of love.  As a result of her near death experience, she now lives in joy rather than fear.  She relates how afraid she was to be herself, to dare to be all she could be -- prior to the near death experience.  Since that experience, she no longer is troubled by fear.  She lives in joy.  Joy is a wonderful place for us to reside.  The very cells of our bodies resonate with health when we resonate with joy.  Today, what is there to be joyful about in your life?

Jun 21, 2013


"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." Christian Hymn 

I have always thought of this song as meaning peace is meant to be on earth, and it has to start with each of us.  But, I just read an interesting interpretation:  that the peace should begin by our self and aimed at our self.  I like this new interpretation.  I have just read Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani.  It is about her near death experience, following what was supposed to be incurable cancer with subsequent organ failure.  We have all read the stories of those who have seemed to die, but have come back.  Anita Moorjani's story is notable in that what she discovered in her experience beyond this life is that all that is expected of her is to be herself -- which as a daughter of God, is love.  While in the near death experience, Anita becomes aware of how harsh and unforgiving she has always been to herself --- and, isn't that true for all of us?  So, today and from now on, let us practice peace and acceptance with ourselves; and - as a result - we can know that this will also be what we practice with others. 

Jun 20, 2013


"Centuries ago the Greeks understood the importance of the mind/body connection. They recognized that you can't separate spiritual well-being from physical well-being.  Today we know that taking care of your physical health helps you cope better with psychological stress. And a good night's sleep is a key part of the equation."  Edward T. Creagen, M.D., Mayo Clinic

Dr. Creagan's suggestions are:
1.  Have a relaxing bedtime routine.  Have at least 1/2 hour in which you unwind and prepare for bed.  Making it a routine helps your body know that sleep is next.
2.  Have a consistent bedtime.  Our sleep is more healthful if we have consistent bedtime and waking hours.
3.  Keep sleeping area dark, cool and quiet.  He suggests using eyeshades and/or ear plugs -- if necessary -- to have it dark and quiet.
4.  Prevent interruptions.  People who know me know not to call after 9:00 p.m. or before 6:30 a.m.  Those are my sleeping, meditating or praying times. 

We all need restorative sleep, especially those who are providing care for another human being.  Sleep well tonight.  You deserve it.

Jun 19, 2013

Finding One's Own Path

"Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking." Antonio Machado

Probably each of us comes to a point in life where life calls us to go beyond any path we have previously trod.  I felt that way when my first marriage came to a point where it could not be reconciled, and I have felt that way many times since.  In caring for someone with dementia, a caregiver must make her or his own path.  No one can tell us how to do it, and if we allow others to impose their opinions on us, it will kill our spirit.  When we became aware that we were dealing with dementia, I consciously chose to provide care for as long as was feasible for me, and to provide care with dignity, respect and graciousness.  There came a time when I was not able to do that any more, and that was the time for other options of care.  Whatever decisions you have before you, no one can tell you which path to take.  Only you can decide what is right and true for you, and then you make your own path -- with the love and support of those who can see that you have chosen rightly. 

Jun 18, 2013


"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."  Joseph Campbell

I think Joseph Campbell is referring to an interior or exterior journey, in which one encounters and deals with various challenges.   The word hero is genderless:  meaning someone who is admired for outstanding qualities or achievements or someone who is brave.  I think caregivers are brave, and I salute all of you who have or are providing caregiving in any capacity.  Even being in relationship and daring to be intimate -- that is to let yourself be known by someone else -- takes courage.   In what ways have you been heroic?

Jun 17, 2013

Our Beliefs

"Belief creates the actual fact."  William James

Our beliefs do create the realities of our lives.  If we believe in the goodness of others, we are more likely to experience that.  If we believe in our own worthiness to be successful, we are more likely to be so.  Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton explores the impact our beliefs have on our lives.  He gives the example of being an infant where a harmless snake is crawling through the grass.  If the infant is with an adult afraid of snakes, the infant will download into its brain the belief that snakes are dangerous.  If, however, the same infant and the same snake are with an adult who likes snakes, that infant will download a respect and curiosity for snakes.  Same circumstances, but different perceptions downloaded.  Lipton says we can change our beliefs, and that it is our unconscious beliefs which are creating the quality of our lives.  Beliefs of which we are not even aware.  We can become aware of those beliefs through dreams, meditations, energy work like Body Talk, hypnosis --- all ways to allow us to become consciously aware of these beliefs.  When we are consciously aware of the beliefs that shape our lives, we can change them if they are not serving us. 

Jun 16, 2013

Being Oneself

"When growing up, I had to check myself at the door like a coat in order to relate to others.  Often, I had to pretend to be less than I was in order to be loved." Mark Nepo

This quote really resonates with me.  Even today I find in some situations that I "check myself at the door like a coat in order to relate to others."  I would guess that many of us grew up in families that discouraged us from being all we could be.  Wayne Dyer tells a cute joke, "The reason Jesus turned out so well is because Mary was REALLY convinced he was the son of God."  Dyer contends we should raise all children that way:  to know they are the daughters and sons of God.  Ironically, the best gift we can give anyone else is to be our own true self.  Let us support each other in being that.

Happy Father's Day to all of you who teach, guide and support others. 

Jun 15, 2013


Communicating with anyone with dementia can be challenging.  Lewy Bodies Dementia presents its own difficulties, as the person may appear to understand more than he/she actually does -- because of their fairly-intact verbal skills.  Here are some tips from Mayo Clinic in communicating with someone with dementia.  For Lewy Bodies Dementia, I think keeping it simple and don't argue are the two most important suggestions. 

  •  Speak clearly. Introduce yourself. Speak in a clear, straightforward manner.
  • Show respect. Avoid secondary baby talk and diminutive phrases, such as "good girl." Don't assume that your loved one can't understand you, and don't talk about your loved one as if he or she weren't there.
  • Stay present. Maintain eye contact, and stay near your loved one so that he or she will know that you're listening and trying to understand.
  • Avoid distractions. Communication may be difficult — if not impossible — against a background of competing sights and sounds.
  • Keep it simple. Use short sentences and plain words. As the disease progresses, yes-no questions may work best, and only one question at a time is best. Break down requests into single steps.
  • Don't interrupt. It may take longer than you expect for your loved one to process and respond. Avoid criticizing, hurrying and correcting.
  • Use visual cues. Sometimes gestures or other visual cues promote better understanding than words alone. Rather than simply asking if your loved one needs to use the toilet, for example, take him or her to the toilet and point to it.
  • Don't argue. Your loved one's reasoning and judgment will decline over time. To spare anger and agitation, don't argue with your loved one.
  • Stay calm. Even when you're frustrated, keep your voice gentle. Your nonverbal cues, including the tone of your voice, can send a clearer message than what you actually say.

Jun 14, 2013

Creativity and Prayer

"When you're in your creativity, you're in prayer." Matthew Fox

Whether or not you believe in prayer, when one is in creativity, one is also in healing mode.  Being absorbed in creativity is like being in deep meditation, and the body responds with healing mode.  Last night I watched a NOVA special on how humans are different from different types of apes.  The end answer is that humans can triangulate with another:  one human can call another human's attention to a third thing, and that is what is involved in learning.  Apes do not appear to do that, although they can do many things humans do.  So, the essential difference between humans and apes appears to be that we learn from each other.  Apes certainly do copy each other, but the researchers contend that humans pointing to and enjoying something with another is different behavior than seen in apes.  The researchers also said, "Learning from someone else is the fastest way to get a new idea.  Faster than copying and faster than inventing it oneself."  So, to be human is to learn from and teach one another.  In what way are you teaching someone today?  Who have been your greatest teachers?  Teaching and learning are both creative, and we can become absorbed in either. 

Jun 13, 2013

Choosing How We See Things

"Today, no matter where I'm going and no matter what I am doing, it is my dominant intent to see that which I am wanting to see."   ---Abraham

Some days it is easier to see things in a positive way than on some other days.  Yesterday Dwane declared that he wants a motor scooter so he can drive where he wants to go, and he wants to come home to use his shop (with power saws, etc.) to modify the bookcase I have set up in his room.  Terrifying possibilities.  He has not driven for two years, and the last time he drove his motorcycle (3 years ago), he drove off the road (on a level, straight section of the road) and into a big hole.  Fortunately, he was not hurt, but it took 6 of us in the neighborhood to get the motorcycle out of the hole.  As caregiver, one of the hardest things for me to deal with are his unrealistic desires.  I don't blame him for wanting things to be back to normal, but I hate being the one who has to redirect him and set limits.  He even had his physical therapist (who has met with Dwane 3 times and is new to the field of therapy) advocate for him to me:  to just bring him home and let him do projects in the garage with supervision.  For one thing, it would be about 4 hours of driving for me to bring him home and back; but - more important -- we have long since passed the time when it is safe for him to use power tools.   Being a caregiver for someone with Lewy Bodies Dementia is so difficult because the person can seem so reasonable -- in limited conversations -- with their relatively good memory -- that outsiders, even some in medical fields, do not recognize the cognitive limitations that define Lewy Bodies Dementia.  The deficits in comprehension, judgment, impulse control, focus of attention, and problem solving abilities -- in addition to the problems in motor control --  are so pronounced that safety is a real concern.

Jun 12, 2013

Positive Thinking

"If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought." Peace Pilgrim

Long before the same advice has come from others, the Peace Pilgrim was spreading the news that our thoughts create our reality.  Born Mildred Lisette Norman in 1908, she walked for several decades across America talking of inner and outer peace.  Dr. Melvin Morse says something that is similar:  if we can send light and love to our worst enemy, it will reflect back to us as if shone upon a mirror; and we will experience light and love.  Our thoughts do create our reality.  Do we think the best of ourself and others?   Do we give ourself and others the benefit of doubt?  What could you think today that would be in the highest and best good for yourself and others?  For, we can know for certain that what we think will create the results we see in our lives.  It is in our best interest to have thoughts of love and light:  Toward all beings, including ourselves. 

Jun 11, 2013

We Are Our Own Person

"You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was." Abraham Lincoln

How true.  It does not matter what our parents or grandparents did, we have to stand on our own.  Sure our backgrounds give us advantages.  It is said that Bill Gates is as successful as he is partly because he was born and lived in Seattle, very near the university where he could go and work on computers --- years before most of the rest of us had access to computers.  The book, Outliers, by Malcolm Goldberg describes such serendipitous upbringings.  But, for most of us, we can build on the foundation that our ancestors created for us, but we must create our own lives and opportunities. 

Jun 10, 2013

What Does Your LIfe Say?

"My life is my message." Mahatma Gandhi

I read recently that Gandhi operated at a very high level of consciousness:  about 700, which enabled him to unite the will of the people and defeat the British Empire.  His life was his message.  At the end of his life, he owned a very few objects:  his eating bowl, the cloth he wore around his body which he wove himself.  He held steadfast to nonviolence, and he often fasted.  He did not lead great armies or governments, but look what he accomplished.  I believe our lives are our message.  What does your life say?  We each make a difference.  Do we want to make a positive difference or a negative one?

Jun 9, 2013


"Dreams are the touchstones of our character." Henry David Thoreau

I heard recently that Thoreau was jailed because of the stand he took in opposition for how the Native Americans were being treated.  I had not known that.  It takes courage to take a stand that is different from the norm.  It also takes courage to dream.  It is important as humans that we have something to look forward to.  What do you have to look forward to?  Caregiving can grind us down.  It is important to retain the ability to dream of the lives we want to have. 

Jun 8, 2013


"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear --- not absence of fear." Mark Twain

Courage.  We often hear of incredibly heroic actions.  I was struck by the videos of the people running toward the bombings in Boston -- to help the victims -- instead of running away for their own safety.  What is courage in caregiving?  Sometimes it is the day-to-day taking care of someone who is no longer able to take care of him/herself.  Sometimes it is the courage of moving someone who cannot take care of themselves into assisted living facilities.  For each of us it may be different, but whatever actions we take -- it takes incredible courage to be caregiver for someone else.  I am in awe of all of you who do so. 

Jun 7, 2013

Summer Days

 To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.
~Emily Dickinson

What lovely summer days we are having (even though summer has not officially arrived).  It started out 26 degrees here this morning, which obliterated the tomatoes in the garden; but then it warmed and has been a most lovely day.  I was speaking with a woman the other day who lives where there are no seasons.  I enjoy seasons.  There is something about each one I love.  The lush green right now, the brilliant blue sky, the cool nights --- just lovely.  Now to take time to enjoy them. 

Jun 6, 2013

Giving Opinions

"There's no need to seek the truth --- just put a stop to your opinions." Seng-Ts'an

I do not know in what context the above quote comes, but it resonates with me nevertheless.  I was raised in a family in which everyone had and expressed strong opinions -- as if they were the truth.  That means, of course, that I am prone to do that too.  I was recently with some extended family, and that is always such a gift -- it always gives me insight into my own behaviors and thought patterns.  Opinions are based on prejudice; whereas, truth is based on love.  Opinions mean we are attached to the way we see things.  Truth allows us to see all sides of a situation.  Opinions shut us down and fence us in.  Truth gives us wings to fly and soar.  Opinions are based in fear.  Truth is based in love.  The very familiar quote, and I do not remember its source, seems appropriate here --  Would you rather be right, or would you rather be loved?  Opinions distance us from others.  Truth erases the barriers and allows us to see one another.  Truth comes with becoming more conscious, awake, aware, present to the moment.  Truth is from Source, God, Higher Power.  Let us orientate ourselves to love and truth.

Jun 5, 2013

Ideas Can Change Us

"Ideas can change the direction of life, move consciousness from despair to hope to upward flight.  Ideas are power."  Dr. Stuart Grayson

I have not read Grayson's book, but it has a catchy title:  The Ten Demandments of Prosperity.  There is much written nowadays about thoughts and ideas and how they can serve us or keep us in bondage.  Listening to cd's of The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton, I learned that our subconscious beliefs are what can keep us from getting what we want in life.  Programming, of which we are often unaware, from our early childhood can and does direct our behavior.  This programming can even override our conscious ideas of where we think we are going.  The goal is to advance our consciousness.  Become more awake.  More present to the moment.  In research done by Dr. David Hawkins, he determined that Gandhi was able to defeat the British Empire because he had developed his consciousness to a much higher level than most humans.  Therefore, he was able to unite the people with his own will and the principle of freedom.  What if we are on the cusp of a universal raise in consciousness?  I think we might be, and the whole planet will benefit.  I, for one, choose to be in on that raise in consciousness.

Jun 4, 2013

Gift of Nature

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace
     will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will
     blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy,
     while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. 
                                                                                           - John Muir

This morning, while hanging bed sheets out on the line to dry in the spring sun, I noticed movement.  I stood very still as I watched a newborn fawn walking toward me.  Turning my head slightly, I could see the mother deer watching me.  The fawn continued to walk toward me and got within about 3 feet, when the mother became alarmed and called for the fawn.  So newborn that it was wobbly on its feet, the fawn answered the mother's call and turned to follow her.  What a gift.  Only one other time have I been this close to a fawn in the wild.  It was enchanting.  Nature is so restorative.  Thoreau said that a walk in the morning was the best blessing for the day.  I agree.  How can you take time to be with nature today?

Jun 3, 2013


"Your ancestors' diet contained healthier food than yours. As we have bred bigger and sweeter fruits and vegetables, we have unwittingly stripped away some of their key nutrients." Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side

Dwane often complains of the food at the assisted living center, and I have provided him with a small refrigerator so that he can enjoy his own yogurt, fresh fruit, bagels and cream cheese that he enjoys.  I make sure the refrigerator is well stocked with what he likes and what is healthy, partly because I believed him when he complained about the food there.  I have eaten there numerous times, and the quality of the food does vary.  But, it was interesting for me at a recent luncheon there to be at a table with some other residents who spoke glowingly of the food.  One resident said he had lived in several assisted living centers, and this one was the best by far in all ways -- to include the food.  It caused me to consider that it seems this complaining about the food is Dwane's orientation to being positive or negative, and not so much about the food.  Of course, he would rather be at home.  Most people would.  But, that is no longer possible.  So, I do the best I can to support him in having not only what is nutritious, but things I know he really enjoys.  His sister sends him homemade cookies, which is also something he really enjoys.  Life is not optimal for either of us at this point, but I strive to make it be the best I can for both of us  -- given the circumstances and needs.  That is all any of us can do.

Jun 2, 2013


"If the only prayer you ever said in your life was 'Thank you,' that would suffice." Meister Eckhart

Gratitude is so important as a stance in life.  Gratitude and forgiveness.  Both have been receiving a lot of attention in the media.  Oprah once quoted someone she had on her show (she did not identify who that was) that to forgive is to stop hoping the past would be different.  When one can do that, I think we can also find a place to be grateful for all the experiences we have had.  Yes, bad things do happen; but it is to our detriment - physically and emotionally - to hold on to resentment about those bad things.  It is said in Buddhism that the chance of being born a human is so remote that we should be thankful just for that:  for the fact that we were born human.  I am also grateful for these spring rains which help abate the drought this area has been having.  What are you grateful for today?

Jun 1, 2013


"Peace is a condition of mind brought about by the serenity of soul." Jawaharlal Nehru

Feeling at peace is sometimes elusive.  Sometimes it might be easier to be at peace if one was living in solitude, but we are not.  We are in relationships, which are rewarding and trying and stretching.  The caregiving relationship is rewarding, trying and frustrating.  Currently, the person for whom I provide caregiving (who now needs assisted living) wants to come home to mow.  It does not seem to matter how many times I say that is not possible, the conversation perseverates.  Perseveration seems to be a part of the dementia, and reasoning with someone with dementia is impossible.  To have peace, it seems we must be willing to be at peace with our decisions --- despite the oppositions of others.  There will always be those people who oppose our actions, but it is imperative that we take action based upon what is true for us and what is best for all involved.