Dec 31, 2013

Integrity in the New Year

"Integrity is the ability to listen to a place inside oneself that doesn't change, even though the life that carries it may change." Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Mann

There are other definitions of integrity, but this one is well suited.  If each of us would continue to listen to the Soul or Inner Self, or whatever you prefer to call it, then integrity would abound.  There would be no question of what is the right thing to do; we would be unerringly guided by Source.  So, today let us take the time to listen so that we can know what is the best course of action for us.  This may not, indeed -- often is not, what others might think we should do.  To follow one's own true inner guidance is to be a blessing onto the world. 

As 2014 begins today, let us listen to our own integrity and allow it to guide our actions.

Dec 30, 2013

End of Another Year

"Like Joseph, (from Bible) I have the opportunities to either accept others as family or cast them out." Rev Rachel Simpson

Rev Simpson is referring to what is cited in the Bible -- that Joseph accepted Mary as his wife and took her into his home.  He did not have to.  Indeed, the cultural practices at the time discouraged what he did.  We have the same opportunities, daily.  We can either treat others with dignity and respect, or shun them.  We can also be assured that sometime in our own lives we have been both accepted and shunned.  There is much power in accepting others and extending love to them.  Let us practice accepting and loving ourselves and others.

Dec 29, 2013

The Now

"If all I have is Now, where will I look for Joy?  . . . . . all I need is right where I am." Mark Nepo

As humans we look around and strive for better situations, better relationships, better people -- we are often busy wanting something just out of our reach.  What if, instead, we look around and are happy with our own circumstances and the people within those circumstances?  What if we look around and practice gratitude for what we have in our lives.  Yes, it is human to dream about having things better; but it is also important to be grateful for what we have.  In fact, I think that is how things do get better for us -- being grateful for what we already have.  What, as caregivers, can we be thankful for today?  I am thankful that the person for whom I provide care is resisting his disease less, which makes him far more pleasant.  I am grateful for our clean air and water, and the freedoms we enjoy, and the opportunities for health and happiness available. 

Dec 28, 2013

Reflecting On One's Life

"An unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

This time of year is a time people take inventory of their lives.  It seems a natural thing to do with the calendar demarcating an ending point for us.  Some people then set goals for how to live differently in the New Year.  Taking inventory is a good habit.  How has this year been for you?  Have you shown up in situations as you would like?  It seems it is a fine balance between being too hard on ourselves and recognizing that there is always an opportunity for improvement.  As I reflect back on 2013, I feel good about the choices I have made.  I also see that I can include more fun in my life.  My life is overly full of commitments, so I can choose to either make the commitments fun -- or, eliminate some of the commitments.  I have chosen to have fun with the process of discerning what commitments stay and how to have fun with them and which commitments have reached their expiration date. 

Dec 27, 2013


"To embark on this glorious challenge, you must leave the known and jump away from the familiar, the status quo, to discover who you truly are and can be." Judith Wright

It is true that to become fully who we are we must leave the familiar.  We all know people who stay in very difficult situations and we may wonder why they stay -- I would suggest that people stay because it is familiar.  It takes courage to leave unsatisfying relationships and situations, but -- to become who we are capable of being -- leave we must, when we discern that is what is the right thing to do.  And, what does this have to do with caregiving?  We may not be able -- or even want -- to leave the caregiving situation, but I think that within that caregiving we need to find ways to leave the known.  Perhaps that is in providing the caregiving in the way that best suits you -- and not all those people who think they know how you should do it. 

Dec 26, 2013

Developing Our Potential

"To assert our individuality is to rise above the law of averages into that more highly specialized use of the Law which brings freedom rather than bondage, joy in the place of grief, and wholeness instead of sickness." Science of Mind, p 417

How do we 'assert our individuality'?  It seems to me that asserting our individuality is a life-long process.  Public schools and families-of-origin too often squelch our individuality. Most of us have heard, "Who do you think you are?!", when we try to be more than what we were yesterday.  Those around us are often most comfortable when we do not change from who they can expect us to be; and, yet, change we must -- or die.  Yes, really die.  Perhaps not in the body, but most certainly in the spirit.  Our life quest is to become fully who we are capable of being, and that takes us to our most wonderful selves.  It is important that we have people in our lives who support our becoming fully ourselves. 

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

"For unto us a child is born."  Luke 2:11

For Christians in the world, today is the celebration of Christ born among us.  I am reading Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and am struck by the cultural climate into which Jesus was born.  As he lived out his life, he seemed to have a unique acceptance of himself and others.  The more accepting we are of ourselves and others, the more compassionate we can be, as reflected in Brene' Brown's research.  Today on this day of celebration let us be compassionate toward ourselves, let us expect and accept the best life has for us, and let us laugh and enjoy those we love. 

Dec 24, 2013


"In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience -- our suffering --, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror.  It has to be this way.  Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.  It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion become real when we recognize our shared humanity." Pema Chodron

Compassion comes from two Latin words which mean "to suffer with".  It is very different from sympathy -- where we remain above the person who is hurting and feel sorry for them.  Compassion is like empathy:  it involves walking in the other's shoes.  Compassion takes great courage because we have to know ourselves so well and to recognize our capacity for doing both good and bad in order to stand with another person and understand their pain.  Most of all it is important to have compassion toward ourselves.  We are human after all.  Fallible.  Imperfect, but also beautiful; and we are made all the more beautiful when we own all parts of ourselves and all the ways we are capable of acting. 

Dec 23, 2013


"Courage is like -- it's a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts.  It's like you learn to swim by swimming.  You learn courage by couraging." Mary Daly

Courage is such an important quality to develop in life.  It includes compassion because true courage requires that we say 'no' to people when it is in our best interest.  True courage means we choose our own path rather than pleasing others.  It takes courage to do this because belonging is such a primal need that ancient tribes used it to punish people, and punish it did --- as exclusion from the tribe meant certain death.  But, it does not mean our death any more, and we must stand in our own truth and speak up for ourselves, rather than relinquishing to others.  As caregivers we will have people who will strongly oppose whatever action we take -- of that we can be sure.  Since we cannot possibly please all of them, let us please ourselves.  Let us make our decisions with integrity, with an eye for what is best for all people involved, and then let us not allow others to dissuade us. 

Dec 22, 2013

Living in Love

"In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate.  Only love dispels hate.  This is the law; ancient and inexhaustible."  Buddha

In this season, considered to be holy by several major religions, we are told to love.  And, here the Buddha tells us that only Love has power over hate.  We have seen people whose lives have shown this to be true:  Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa.  It is difficult to love those people who have caused us harm, but that is what we are called to do.  Into what situation can you infuse Love today?

Dec 21, 2013

Taking Action

"If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Yogi Berra

In the decision-making process, many people have trouble take a crucial step:  taking action.  They will talk, and talk, and talk, and plan, and set goals --- but they will not actually take the action that is necessary for them to meet their goals.  It is astonishing how many people talk their whole lives about how they could do this or that, but they never actually take the steps.  Perhaps that is what Yogi Berra means in the above quote.  When we come to a point of decision, do something.  Take one path or another, but at least take a path.  It is my believe that the Universe or God or whatever you are comfortable in calling the benevolent force will bless whatever path we take, but we must take one of the paths -- and continue on it. 

Dec 20, 2013

Expecting the Best

"By expecting and accepting the best, we are symbolically documenting the opulence of the universe." Lloyd Barrett

Many of us have been raised to settle for something less than what we might really want.  We have been raised to disbelieve that we deserve the very best.  We think that the very best is reserved for the likes of Oprah, but that is a disservice to ourselves and the universe.  We may never make a mark on the world as Oprah has, but we can make a mark on our own smaller world.  We do have an impact, wherever we go -- and that impact is either a blessing or not.  It is important that we come to know our own power, and part of that is expecting and accepting the best.  Yes, you deserve it.  You really do deserve the best.

Dec 19, 2013

Seeing With Love

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly....
--Antoine de Saint Exupery

It is so easy in human relationships to have misunderstandings, feelings which are ruffled, without ever meaning to offend.  Perhaps the only way to deal with communication in relationships is to see with the heart.  That means to turn the mind off, the judgments, the analyses, the justifications.  It means, instead, to see with the heart which is to see with pure love.  Most of us are doing the best we can at any given time --- let us give each other credit for doing the best we can. 

Dec 18, 2013

Everything Is Holy

"There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein

This is a season that is considered holy by some of the great religions, and what does it mean to be holy?  One definition is:  exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.  What if we lived as if we considered life holy:  perfect in goodness.  If we are honest, isn't most of our life good?  We have a sun which rises every morning and makes life on this earth possible with its warmth.  For those of us who have relatively clean air and water, we can be most grateful.  If we have shelter, that is a state of goodness.  How might our lives be different if we lived them as worthy of complete devotion -- devoted to developing our own potential and living life to its fullest? 

Dec 17, 2013

Making The Best Of It

"Make the best of it. When you make the best of whatever you're focused upon, your future will be better than your now. If each moment you're making the best of what-is, no matter what it is, you make the best of it; make the best of it; make the best of it—your future just gets better and better and better, and better."  ---Abraham

I have sometimes thought it was a flaw to "make the best of it", and it is lovely to read that it is an asset.  And, what better advice could we, who are caregivers, get but to make the best of it.  Life has served up this circumstance that has created us being caregivers for someone else.  Our response, as caregivers, could be bitterness, anger, self-pity, etc.  How much better to know that life does contain challenges --- they may be purposeful in that they can help us develop spiritual muscle ---, and a wonderful response is to make the best of it.  It is a waste of time to think, 'why me?'.  It is far better to observe that we now have someone with dementia for whom we have some responsibility, and how do we make the best of it?  So, how do we make the best of it?  By looking for the good, by looking for the reasons to be grateful, by looking for the positive versus the negative, by providing respite for ourselves, by monitoring our own health, by being compassionate toward ourselves and the person with dementia.  How do you make the best of it?

Dec 16, 2013

Finding Good In Everything

"And this, our life exempt from public haunt, finds  . . . books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." William Shakespeare

Ah, yes, that is how I find nature.  People think it is strange that I choose to live in the woods amid the trees beside a babbling brook.  I love it.  Not so much the volume of work in the winter with snow removal, but all else.  I love the silence, the solitude, the beauty; and from this beauty comes the sermons I give at a local spiritual center and the writings I do.  Do you have a chance to interact with nature in this way?  I hope you do because the greenery is good for the soul.

Dec 15, 2013


"Anything you can do from the soulful self will help to lighten the burden of the world: anything.  You have no idea what the smallest word, the tiniest generosity can cause to be set in motion." Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Research tells us that acts of kindness benefit not only the person bestowing the kindness and the person receiving the kindness, but anyone in proximity who witnesses the acts of kindness, and I think perhaps we do not even need to witness the kindness -- because the good energy of an act of kindness can flow out and onward benefitting us all.  A smile given to someone who is having a less-than-perfect day, letting someone merge in front of you in traffic, holding the door for someone who is carrying something, acknowledging those people who may be disenfranchised:  the poor, the people of other races/religions/genders, children, the elderly, passing along information that may benefit someone else (I think that I sometimes happen to come upon information that is given to me only to pass it on).  The acts do not have to be big; as small acts of kindness can accumulate and impact the world.   An act of kindness I like to do this time of year is to put new $20 bills in envelopes for those who have provided service to me:  the refuse collector, the mail deliverer -- anyone who provides me a service but with whom I rarely interact.  What acts of kindness do you do?

Dec 14, 2013

Doing Our Part

"Go your way step by step.  Now is the appointed time to do your part." Letter of the Scattered Brotherhood

So, what is our part?  Perhaps you, like me, have pondered that.  I think doing our part means speaking up when the truth needs to be said, I think it means practicing tolerance and nonjudgment, I think it means working in support of those things we believe in. We are all familiar with the famous saying that evil can happen when good people do nothing.  That is what it means to do our part:  Do something, say something in the face of evil, and evil is anything that diminishes life.  Doing our part is comprised of small acts for most of us.  It includes such things as:  recognizing those people disenfranchised by society, practicing compassion, doing our part to enhance the good in the world.  What one thing can you do today to do your part? 

Dec 13, 2013

Being Happy With Ourselves

"It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere." Agnes Repplier

How very true.  The lack of tolerance in the world, I believe, stems from the basic lack of tolerance for our own imperfections.  The happiness and joy and peace we can find in the world is in direct proportion to the happiness, joy and peace we can find in ourselves.  That is what I think Shakespeare meant when he said, " To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."   Healthy love of self is the basis for our tolerance of others and for our own peace and well being.  What do you love most about who you are?

Dec 12, 2013

Medicare Premiums

"Medicare Part B premiums for 2014 will remain the same at $104.90, and the annual Part B deductible will stay unchanged at $147." Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Good news for all of us.  We, who are caregivers for someone with dementia, have enough increased expenses with additional medications, mobility devices, medical services not covered by Medicare, and whatever form of respite care we provide for the person with dementia.  It is good news, indeed, that at least our Medicare premiums and deductible amounts will remain unchanged. 

Dec 11, 2013


 "He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter  . . . . In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity."  John Burroughs

I know we are not in winter in the northern hemisphere according to the calendar, but as I look out the window, it seems winter to me.  We have already had record-setting snow levels in October and unusual cold this December.  That means slick roads, snow to shovel and plow, warm clothing to find and put on --- it also means exquisite stars at night.  The cold, crisp air allows the stars to seem almost within reach.  The snow on the trees during the day sparkles like gems.  So, the good and the bad of winter; just as in everything.


Dec 10, 2013

Our Spirituality

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience." Teilhard de Chardin

An interesting concept to consider.  Is it possible that we do not fully appreciate our spirituality?  There are some who believe that we are sparks of the Divine.  If that is so, then it is important to acknowledge, honor and develop that part of ourselves.  In this season of holy days for major religions, let us consider how we can more fully develop our own spirituality.  If spirituality is something you are not comfortable, then in what way can we more fully develop our potential as humans.  It seems to me that the two things are saying much the same thing. 

Dec 9, 2013

Focusing on the Solution

"So many times in life we focus more on the difficulty than on the solution.  It is vital that we have a balanced knowledge of who we are and what's important so that we are able to separate the truths from the frustrations of life." Jack Sacco

In order to know what's important to us, we must know what our values are.  So many times in life our frustrations are caused by our actions not being in alignment with our values.  What is important to you?  What is important to me is my own spiritual growth, enjoying a well-rounded and healthy life, and making time for relationships that are important to me.  I reevaluate often to make sure that the way I am spending my time and talents is in activities that align with those values.  I let go of activities that do not align with those values.  People are sometimes frantically busy, and it seems to me that excess activity is to avoid really considering one's values and aligning one's behavior with those values.  In this Advent season, let us consider what is truly important to us; and let us schedule our time in allocations to what is important to us.  This is one way to have less frustrations in life.

Dec 8, 2013

Daring to Live to Our Potential

Nelson Mandela is a wonderful example to us of what a difference one person can make.   I think he is so right in saying that our real fear is in living to our own potential, but it is only in living to our own potential that we can free ourselves and be a model to others for their own freedom.   Today, are you willing to risk living big?  Are you willing to let your own light shine?  Let us support each other in doing so.  We all benefit.

Dec 7, 2013

Good Sleep Habits

"To sleep, perchance to dream." William Shakespeare

"70 million Americans have sleep disturbances." Dr. Safwan Badr.  Consequences to inadequate sleep are health problems, moodiness, poor judgment, cardiac disease, and automobile accidents.  Some people believe they are 'night people', but research says that only about 2% of the entire population are really persons who prefer being awake at night.  "1/3 of apnea patients could be cured by losing weight." Mayo Clinic   So, are you a person who has trouble sleeping (and the stress of caregiving can certainly be a deterrent to quality sleep)?  Some suggestions are:  do not do anything electronically for an hour or two before bedtime.  Create a routine and go to bed the same time every day.  Darken your bedroom -- especially do not put your cell phone or ipad beside your bed so that you can check it one last time. 

Dec 6, 2013

Healing From Past Hurts

"Looking back, I wonder whom I should thank and whom I should forgive.  What I believe has healed me and my life is not forgiveness, but a change in my perspective." Bob Luckin

The context within which the above quote comes is Bob Luckin reminiscing about his life and realizing that some of what seemed to be the worst things at the time, were -- in reconsidering -- events about which it was hard to decide if they were good or bad.  He says that he was abused by his father growing up, and then worked as an attendant in a hospital in which his father was a long-term patient, which motivated him to go back to school and get training in the field of mental health.  So, were the events good or bad?  They all led him to what he decided was his path in life.  So, too, in each of our lives are the good and the bad comingled.  I know in my life a devastating end of a relationship led me to significant spiritual growth and the training I now have in psychology.  I now consider the end of that relationship to be a blessing.  What events in your life may have been blessings in disguise?

Dec 5, 2013

7-Minute Workout

"The 7-minute workout hit the fitness scene last year and quickly went viral." Katherine Pushkar

Rapid bursts of intense exercise have shown to have benefits comparable to traditional, more time-consuming programs.  It consists of twelve 30-second moves broken up by 10 seconds of rest.  Pushkar offers a tip:  download an app to keep you on task.  She used   

For those of us who are caregivers and other busy people, time is of the essence, and finding time to exercise can be difficult.  This program may be an option for all busy, health-minded people. 

Dec 4, 2013

Enjoy That Piece of Pie

"Even if you're watching your weight, you should consider eating what you want this holiday season."  Health section of Time Magazine, December 9, 2013

According to a Canadian study putting food on a do-not-eat list only increases your craving for that food.  An Israeli study found that eating a little bit of something sweet every day helped dieters lose weight.  It seems prudent to adopt the lifestyle of moderation.  Eat nutritious food, but do not deny yourself an occasional treat.  The holiday season is stressful enough without severely restricting what you eat. 

Dec 3, 2013

Increasing One's Joy

"With these simple solutions. you'll make room for what the season is all about:  joy." Bari Lieberman

Lieberman suggests these strategies to increase your joy:
1.  Use mantras to stay in the moment -- such as, "I let go of expectations. I am grateful. I forgive you."
2.  Reboot your metabolism with some form of exercise.
3.  Know when to take a time out.  Excuse yourself from upsetting conversations.
4.  Focus on the upside of things. 

Dec 2, 2013

5 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

"If you don't have high blood pressure now, odds are you will." Caroline Hwang, Prevention Magazine, December 2013

These suggestions come from David Katz, MD, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and author of Disease-Proof:  The Remarkable Truth about What Makes us Well:
1.  Eat low-fat, low-sugar yogurt.  People who ate 6 oz of yogurt twice a week over 14 years were 31% less likely to develop high blood pressure.  I personally prefer plain (no flavoring or sugar) Greek yogurt. 
2.  Lift weights.  Women who lift weights cut systolic blood pressure by 5 points and diastolic by 9 points.
3.  Drink faux red wine.  Nonalcoholic red wine lowered blood pressure by 5.8 points after 4 weeks.  Any antioxidant-rich food may also be effective.
4.  Enjoy a little sun.  He suggests exposing arms and legs to the sun about 15 minutes 3 days a week.  If that does not work for you, take a Vitamin D supplement.
5.  Hang out with friends.  Loneliness boosts blood pressure, so take friendships seriously.

Dec 1, 2013

Importance of Friendships

"A new study suggests that time spent with loved ones may help your body fight inflammation.  People with fewer social ties had significantly higher risks of dying of heart disease and cancer." Yang Claire Yang, PhD

As caregivers it is difficult to make time for meaningful friendship time.  I do have a group I meet with for breakfast once a week, when time allows, which supports me.  The group discusses divergent and interesting topics and allows for divergent opinions.  That is a rare experience --- the safety to truly express oneself.  Each of us needs relationships in which we can express our opinions and have them held in confidence and accepted.  That does not mean that everyone needs to agree with our opinion, but that they listen and allow our opinion --- without shaming or trying to change how we think.  Do you have a friend who does this for you?  You deserve it, and we all need it.