Dec 31, 2014

Our Awareness

"We are moving into a time when our awareness is no longer limited to the five senses."
Gary Zukav

Gary Zukav is a spiritual thinker who has continued to take things beyond their previous understood level.  What if it is true that our awareness is no longer limited to the five senses of which we are so familiar:  vision, hearing, tasting, feeling by touch, and smelling?  There are some who think that we can now experience things energetically.  Quantum physics is built on that premise.  We have all experienced a flash of intuition or a sense of deja vu.  Some think that we can be more in touch with our ability to use our intuition.  Do you think it is possible?

Dec 30, 2014

Considering Our Beliefs

"If something is not true and we believe it, we will tend to see ourselves and the world through the lens of that belief." Rev. Dr. Jim Lockard

Beliefs are very, very powerful.  Most of the quality of our lives is based on our beliefs, and most of those beliefs are unconscious -- so we are not even aware of what is directing our lives.  Each of us integrated beliefs as we were growing up.  Some of those beliefs are supportive of who we are, and some are very much not.  Being with my siblings sometimes gives me insight into what some of my beliefs are, of which I am unaware.  Beliefs about our role as caregiver can also shape how and what we do in that role.  I had a belief that I could do it --- I could manage taking care of my loved one at home -- and, even, that that was the right thing to do.  I have my daughter to thank and a close friend for helping me see that caring for my loved one at home was killing me.  While it is sad that someone we love has a terminal illness, it is imperative that we not allow that illness to take us too.  As caregivers we are responsible for respectful, appropriate care for our loved one -- in whatever form best suits him/her and us.  

Dec 29, 2014


"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 Ober-Man

An interesting definition of integrity.  Integrity is something that we, as caregivers, need.  It takes courage and integrity to be a good caregiver.  We will be criticized by other people, usually other family members; and because of that, we need to know what is right for us and for our loved one and not be swayed by the criticisms of others.  Only you know what is best for yourself, and - as caregivers - we are given the task of also figuring out what is best for another person.  For that we need integrity.  For any given decision, let us be in touch with that place inside ourselves from which we can know what is right for us, and then we can find the courage to do it. 

Dec 28, 2014

Life Is Good

"Sometimes I go about with pity for myself and all the while Great Winds are carrying me across the sky." Ojibway saying

As caregivers it is easy sometimes to feel sorry for ourselves.  Why me?  Why did this happen to us?  It is normal to question life difficulties, but it is not very helpful.  I once read that better than saying, 'why me?' is to say 'why not me?'.  The point, of course, is that what happens to one person really happens to us all.  And within every challenge is a gift for us.  Have you figured out the gift or gifts for you within the task of caregiving?  For me, part of the gift has been to learn to provide care for him without it destroying me.  Research tells us that 1/3 of us caregivers will die from the stress of doing the task and 1/3 will have their health severely damaged.  The other 1/3 will come out of caregiving better people for having done the task.  Into which third do you want to be?

Dec 27, 2014

Abuse in Nursing Homes

  1. "There are several different kinds of abuse that may affect older adults. This abuse can take place at care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted livings, as well as in the person’s own home. Being aware of these possibilities can, in some cases, prevent you or your loved ones from experiencing them."

    I have noticed in the last couple weeks bruises on my loved one's hands, and I have asked numerous staff about these bruises.  Last night I had a phone call from an employee of the nursing home, and he has reported to his boss and to the state that he thinks elder abuse has taken place.  God bless him!  Elder abuse is a reality of which we as caregivers need to be aware.  In this case, as I explained to the administrator of the facility, I think my loved one is experiencing visual hallucinations which make him think he is in danger -- while staff can think he is being difficult.  I will get to the bottom of this, and - as I said to the administrator -- I want assurances of training and procedures which prevent it ever happening again.  The sobering thing is that this is one of the best nursing homes in this half of our state.  

Dec 26, 2014

Each Day Is a New Beginning

  1. "The glory around you is born again each day." The Muppet version of A Christmas Carol

    Perhaps that is the reason for the day and night -- for sleep -- is to have a clear demarcation so that we know we have a new day.  Yesterday may not have been optimal.  As caregivers, some of our days are not.  But, today is a new day and we can make it -- by our attitude -- into whatever kind of day we want to have.  Actually, my yesterday was very good.  I drove the 2 hours (round trip) to see my loved one and took him a Christmas treat.  He was more alert than usual, but still mostly hallucinating.  It was fun to sit and chat with him within his world as he sees it:  the cat he sees walking across the ball field, which is actually still part of the room where we were.  Then I had my daughter and her family for lunch, and in the evening I gave the sermon at a little church in the area and attended a gathering of friends after.  Yesterday was good.  I intend for today to be even better.   

Dec 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

  1. "A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." Garrison Keillor

    That busy holiday season has been here again.  Gifts to buy, packages to wrap and mail, goodies to bake, houses to decorate.  And now Christmas is here.  I hope you take time to enjoy this day and to reflect on what this holiday means.  Christians believe that Jesus heralded peace to all, good will to all humans, light and love to the world.  I recently saw an icon that I just loved.  It was of the Madonna and Child.  Mary holding Jesus, and in his hand is the world, written underneath it says, "I am the light of the universe."  Let the Light of the season enter your home and your heart and have a Blessed Christmas.

Dec 24, 2014

Know Thyself

  1. "All escape routes were cut off.  I had to move into my own silence and find out who was in there."  Marion Woodman

    The times of waiting in caregiving --- sometimes I feel as if I am waiting to live my own life -- can be valuable times.  We can use this time to go into the silence and know ourselves better.  Marion Wooman is a Jungian psychologist whose work has impacted me for several decades.  Shakespeare suggested that we be true to ourselves.  To be true to ourselves requires that we know who we are, and perhaps this is possible only in silence.  

Dec 23, 2014

Opening to Life

  1. "God breaks the heart again and again until it stays open." Hazrat Inayat Khan

    Some people might not want to think God breaks the heart.  Perhaps, then, it is Life which breaks the heart.  But each of us has our hearts broken again and again.  Not always does having our hearts broken result in the heart staying open; sometimes the heart slams shut in response to the challenges in life.  It is our choice.  To open or to become more closed.  For me betrayals by people I loved or people with whom I worked have served to open my heart more.  Now, it is in the breaking of my heart that I see my loved one struggle with his end of life process.  My choice in this is to let my heart open more and more.  To do otherwise, is to die ourselves, though perhaps not physically.  

Dec 22, 2014

Experiencing Life

  1. "The world in all its mystery and difficulty cannot be improved upon, only experienced." Taoist belief

    I agree.  The world in all its mystery and difficulty cannot be improved upon nor changed; it can only be experienced.  That is actually a relief.  When I saw my loved one yesterday, he was not doing as well.  Felt he could not breathe.  Almost panicky.  I called the nurse who took his oxygen levels, and they were good.  So, she decided it must be anxiety, and they chose to give him some medication for that.  It must be terrifying for the people with dementia to know - on some level - that things are so awry.  He also said the people "there" (at the facility) took good care of him, and I was so glad to hear him say that.  It must help him to know they are taking good care of him.

    Knowing that we cannot improve upon the world sets us free from tying to change situations beyond our control.  Things like the progression of dementia.  We do better to experience the nuances that accompany that journey, and to help smooth the way for ourselves and our loved one.  

Dec 21, 2014

Releasing the Need to Control

  1. "Challenging situations can spur drama that diverts my attention.  The tension in my body may restrict the flow of ideas to my brain and love to my heart." Unity

    We encounter many stressful situations in life, and, certainly, caregiving is one of the greatest.  But, even happy occasions can be stressful.  Think of the stress of weddings.  The key is to remain calm.  I love the quote from the Peanuts column from Lucy, I think, "You are straining my equanimity."  Life and other people can strain our equanimity.  Our task, for our own health and well being, is to remain calm.  We can do this by managing our thoughts toward positive ones, meditating, prayer, practicing gratitude, walks in nature --- any and all things that return us to calmness and the place where we can listen to the guidance available to us all.  

Dec 20, 2014

Honoring Your Creativity

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, and that is an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

We each have good ideas - especially when we are in touch with our center, with the Source of the benevolent energy in the world, but it is truly special to have an idea whose time has come.  Perhaps not all of us will have such ideas, but we certainly are capable of having them.  We might think those ideas come only to notable people of whom we have heard, such as Mother Teresa and her idea of ministering to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, Nelson Mandela and his idea to seek working together over revenge, Martin Luther King, Jr. who "had a dream" of equality for all, Oprah who had an idea that people would respond to "ah-ha" moments.  We are none of these people, and, yet, we can have ideas whose time has come.  What might your idea be?

Dec 19, 2014

Benefit of Errors

"Learning something new? Go ahead and screw up a few times.  Your brain's motor-control center, the cerebellum, has a coaching mechanism that automatically and unconsciously logs - and then learns from - errors, speeding you toward better proficiency." Science magazine

If you, like I did, grew up with some beliefs that one had to be perfect, that mistakes were to be avoided -- even if it meant not trying for something wanted, then this research will be good news for you too.  Mistakes are not only part of being human; we are hardwired to benefit from them.  And, we should have known that all along -- after all, haven't we all watched toddlers learn to walk?  They stumble, they fall, they get up, and they try again.  Let that be true for us too.  Let us try, perhaps fail, get up and try again.  Our brains are hardwired to help us out with doing it right.

Dec 18, 2014

Another Use of Honey

"Honey appears to be better for healing canker sores than common drugstore remedies, clearing symptoms in half the time."

Just wet a sterile cotton ball and wipe the inflamed area clean, and then put on a swipe of honey.  It appears that the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory components appear to be the reason for its effectiveness.  Honey is also excellent for healing minor burns, relieving a cough better than popular OTC meds, and when paired with an antibiotic, it even offers hope against MRSA.  The only caution, never give honey to a child under two years of age.  

Dec 17, 2014

Caring for Yourself as Caregiver

"The stress, the strain, the gravity of the task of caregiving can level you, but it can be done with compassion and grace and can be a moving and cathartic experience." Jane Gross

As we are in the midst of the traditional holiday season with its stress, let us be particularly careful to monitor our own health, which can be so significantly impacted by caregiving.  Eating right, getting exercise every day, good sleep habits, prayer or meditation to help us be centered in the truth of who we are, having friendships that are supportive and meaningful, and doing things that are fun for us are all so important.  These ways to maintain our health are always important, but even more so during the holiday season.  

Dec 16, 2014

Lonely Road

"If you don't like your world, change the thoughts and feelings that are creating it." Jack Boland

Advice we might read over and over in various places, and not so easy to do as the primary, and - often - only caregiver for someone with a terminal illness.  Let's be honest -- it can be lonely, but we can also think of the many people in our lives who support us.  I am not free to attend a holiday function at the nursing home, but my daughter and her family are going in my place.  I am so grateful that she was willing to step in and go.  I am so grateful for the support.  As caregivers, we must accept that we cannot do it all -- without it killing us, and probably not even then.  Where does your support come from?  

Dec 15, 2014

Considering What We Believe

"The quantum field must take the form of whatever we believe, just as water takes the shape of its container." Ellen Debenport

Research indicates that most of our behavior is controlled by beliefs of which we are unaware and which do not serve us.  As very young children, we download into our unconscious beliefs from statements and implications from those around us.  Sometimes being with extended family is a gift to better understand what those beliefs might be.  I remember such an occasion once when my father said of one of my siblings when she and her husband used an inheritance to build a new house, "Who does she think she is?!"  I realized then and there that unworthiness for success was something my father had downloaded from his environment, and, of course, then so had I.  Once aware of these beliefs, we can change them.  

Dec 14, 2014

Considering What We Hold Dear

"Only that which we hold dear will be strong enough to hold us as we cross into the holy land." Mark Nepo

Nepo is referring to an old myth -- that pilgrims were able to cross a river and enter the holy land only if they contributed what they held dear for the common good of the group.  It seems relevant to the way we lead our lives.  Only when we contribute what we hold dear are we truly impacting life.  How we spend our time, the effort we make towards other people, the talents we develop and share.  We cannot hold onto these things, clutching them to our chests, hoarding them.  Only when given the light and shared are they truly ours and do we, then, truly impact the world around us.

Dec 13, 2014

Change your Habits: Change your Life

What can we change in our daily lives that will change the quality of our lives?  Probably many things, but, for sure, the quality of our thoughts.  Also, it would seem, is how we spend our time, which I have been considering again.  I started work again to help offset the cost of my loved one's care, but I feel fragmented, overwhelmed.  So, I am reconsidering.  What is important to me?  Peace of mind and quality time with those I love.  As I consider how I spend the 24 hours I am given each day, I know I will come to a place of balance.  Is your life in balance?  Are you spending time doing what you love?  Is the way you spend your time in alignment with what you value?  Such important questions to consider.  

Dec 12, 2014

Changing Our Experience

"It can be very helpful to understand that you do have a point of attraction and that you can control it. And your best opportunity to control it is when you first awaken each morning. It doesn’t take long to transform your point of attraction; 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 days of waking up in nonresistance and then deliberately focusing to maintain your state of lesser and lesser resistance will make a big difference in how you feel and the things that come into your experience. You will begin to receive insight and positive manifestations such as good-feeling emotions and good ideas will begin to flow to you."

This seems like one good way to change one's life circumstances, and it coincides with what psychology tells us -- that it takes about 30 days of doing something for a behavior to become a habit.  More and more people in the spiritual and quantum physics worlds are saying that we largely control our life experiences -- by our beliefs and our attitudes and our thoughts and emotions.  It is well worth our time to consider this way of making our lives better.  

Dec 11, 2014

Believing Behavior

"When people show you who they are, believe them." Maya Angelou

So many times the people who come for therapy are surprised by another person's behavior -- because that behavior is not matched by words.  For instance, a person might notice that someone is not doing what he or she said they did.  My advice is:  trust the behavior. When behavior and talk are not congruent:  trust the behavior.  That does not mean that we need to write the other person off, but it does mean that we might alter to what extent we want to trust what that person says. What does this have to do with caregiving?  Even with someone with dementia, trust that their behavior is telling you something.  Perhaps they are in pain, or have a urinary tract infection, or are dehydrated, or are anxious.  We can learn much by observing another person's behavior.  

Dec 10, 2014

How to Love Well

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
Thomas Merton

We all know of relationships in which one or both people will try to change in the other person the very thing that first attracted them to the other person.  Perhaps we have even been in those types of relationships ourselves.  It is ironic, but it is almost always the things that first attracted us that begin to get under our skin.  The well informed person, who becomes the person who talks too much.  I am sure you know what I mean.  Thomas Merton is right.  The only remedy is to let those people we love be entirely and perfectly themselves.  Truly, that is what we love about them.  And, we can expect the same back.  To be loved well enough that we are loved for our essence, and not for how we can change for the other person.

Dec 9, 2014

Uniquely You

"You are the only version of you that this universe will ever know.  This is wonderful and disturbing news.  Wonderful because it speaks to the majesty of Creation, and disturbing because it means that no one else can ever really know your truth." Jim Lockard

We have all heard it before.  Just like there are no two snowflakes exactly alike, so too are there no two humans exactly alike.  This is wonderful because only you can make the difference you make in this world.  Much like the old movie with Jimmy Stewart, life simply would not be the same without you.  Knowing the unique impression we have on life; we can make sure that the difference we make is a positive one (because this is a choice -- whether to be a positive or a negative presence).  And, it is also disturbing that we are unique -- because no one will ever perfectly understand you.  Nor will you perfectly understand someone else.  Since our essence will pass through this life only this once, let's make sure we make the impact we want to and of which we are capable.  Only you - with your unique energy - can make your positive difference with the people in your life.

Dec 8, 2014

Cold Sore Remedy

"Lysine is an amino acid (building block of protein).  Lysine seems to prevent the herpes virus from growing." WedMD

I am susceptible to getting cold sores.  I went into a health food store because I was nearer to it than a drugstore or pharmancy, and they recommended Lysine gel applied to the lips.  Using this lysine gel has helped stop a cold sore for me better than any other thing I have ever done.  According to wedMD, a reputable website, lysine seems to be safe to use for short periods.  

It is so useful to share easy, safe remedies for common ailments.  What have you found that works for you?

Dec 7, 2014

Happiness as a Goal

"The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness.  Happiness is the goal of every other goal." Deepak Chopra

How happy are you?  Statistics indicate that depression is common among caregivers.  Last week I felt some of the symptoms of depression, and I realized my Vitamin D levels were low again.  Caregiving is stressful.  It is imperative that we are in touch with our own health status and taking steps to preserve it.  Please do not let the disease take both you and your loved one!  Managing our own health is one way to be happy --- it is hard to be happy when we are ill, whether in body or mind.  Arranging events of fun add to happiness, not doing things we do not want to do adds to happiness, having relationships with people who truly care about us adds to happiness, times in nature attribute to happiness.  Let's consider for today that happiness is the purpose of life, and let's choose to be happy.  

Dec 6, 2014

Lighten Up

  1. "Here is what I want to know:  Can we lighten up a little?" Elizabeth Gilbert

    Sometimes it may seem, as caregivers, we have the weight of the world and all its problems on our shoulders.  It can seem as if there is nothing funny or light or joyous in the world.  If that is the case, and I believe it will be from time to time for caregivers, then we need to have a break.  A respite from the task of caregiving.  How do you get breaks?  It may seem that if our loved one is in a care facility, then we would have all the breaks we need.  But that is not necessarily true.  We may feel that we need to work to pay for his or her care.  We still are the ones called when the falls happen.  We still need to make the best decisions.  In what way can you lighten your load?  For me, it is walks in nature and good conversations with true friends and time with my enchanting granddaughter.  Yesterday I went with her and her mother for her first haircut.  I love being a part of the beginnings of life --- they help offset the endings.  

Dec 5, 2014

Remaining Calm

  1. "You cannot calm the storm . . . . so stop trying.  What you can do is calm yourself.  The storm will pass." Timber Hawkeye

    As caregivers, even if we are not doing the caregiving 24/7, there are lots of storms.  We are going through a period of my loved one falling:  falling out of the wheelchair, falling out of bed.  The nursing home staff has lowered his bed near the floor and put a cushioned mat beside it to protect him, and if the falls from the wheelchair continue, we will implement a tray for the wheelchair.  The falling is, in my opinion, that he forgets he can no longer walk, and - in the midst of a hallucination -- he tries to go where he thinks he needs to go.  The best approach for me is to remain calm and consider the options for keeping him safe.

Dec 4, 2014

Helping Across Threshold

  1. "At heart, hospitality is helping across a threshold." Ivan Illich

    As caregivers, isn't it possible that one of our main tasks is to help our loved one cross the threshold from this life to what is after?  That may seem gruesome to some, but the reality is our loved one is dying - barring a miracle.  It helps me to think of it in the terms above:  it is hospitality to help someone cross a threshold.  We all have had a someone in our lives who has helped us cross a threshold of some kind.  A kind person who did not do something for us, but showed us the way and supported us as we made our journey.  That is what we can now do for our loved one:  support him or her in the journey.  

Dec 3, 2014

Living Life

  1. "Yours is to live it, not to reveal it." Helen Luke

    Wise words.  We can spend so much time thinking about life and talking about life -- perhaps even telling people our beliefs about what life means.  But the richer thing by far is to simply live life.  That means, for me, to stop being in my head about something in the past or in the future, to be present to what is before me - without resistance, and to immerse myself in what is my life.  Perhaps it does not get any better.  Yes, I have a husband dying from a terminal and debilitating disease, but - even in that - I can find sweetness.  Yesterday he was so glad to see me (it varies depending on his mood), and he was also so tired.  I sat with him, holding his hand, as he slept.  He is such a good man.

Dec 2, 2014

Sadness is Normal

  1. "Despair is what happens when you fight sadness. Compassion is what happens when you don’t. " Susan Piver

    Interesting suggestion. Piver suggests that the great people of whom we might think, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, etc,, arrived at their greatness by feeling sadness.  We have much sadness to consider as caregivers.  To witness someone we love dying with a terminal illness is very, very sad.  Perhaps Piver is right, and it is best to feel the sadness.  How can you honor the sadness today?

Dec 1, 2014

Knowing Our Relevance

  1. "We, too, are each significant parts of the whole, playing our unique and independent parts in the orchestra of life." Herracia Brewer

    It seems that part of the journey in life is to realize that while we are not special -- as in set apart from others in a special way --, we are special in the unique part we contribute to the whole of life.  It is a subtle, but important, distinction.  We are a unique essence.  Just like we are told that no two snowflakes are exactly alike, no two human beings are exactly alike.  No snowflake is more important than any other snowflake; and it is also true, no human is more important than any other human.  We bring our unique giftedness and personality to life -- as only we can.  Have you ever considered what a difference it would make if you were not here?  We can all see that difference when someone we know and love dies.  We see that the essence that was so uniquely and genuinely them is now gone.  Let us know the contribution we make while we are still here and interacting with life.  

Nov 30, 2014

Letting Go of the Past

  1. "Don't let your history dictate your destiny." Bishop T. D. Jakes

    As humans, we are so governed by our beliefs -- many of which are limiting, as well as unconscious.  What if part of life's purpose is to dismantle those beliefs, let them go, and not be dictated by them or any past story we have about our lives.  Do we think we are not good at math because of some experience we had in school?  Let us consider, instead, that we had a teacher who was unable to teach in the unique way we needed to learn.  Whatever limiting beliefs we have, let us choose to let them go.  They are not us.  

Nov 29, 2014

Acting Out of Love

  1. "Deep in the center of my being there is a deep well of love." Louise Hay

    What is at the center of your being?  One way to tell is to notice, when one is not trying to manage one's thoughts, what is the content of your thoughts.  If the content of your thoughts is love, then love is at the center of your being.  If it is anger at someone, then anger is at the center of your being.  If it is worry about the future, then worry is at the center of your being.  If it is gratitude for all the good in your life, then gratitude is at the center of your being.  Our random and continuous thoughts reflect the center of our lives. That is one reason it is important to manage one's thoughts and to think of positive and healthy things.

Nov 28, 2014

Life's Journey

  1. "I am sure that there is much that we can learn and forgive due to the ongoing state of gradual evolving wisdom we amass on this journey of unexpected change and readjustment." Herracia Brewer

    Wow, what a lot in one sentence.  Yes, there is much we can learn and forgive in our lifetimes because we access wisdom  because of the unexpected changes and readjustments life causes us to make.  The quote may sum up what life is all about.  What does that have to do with caregiving?  None of us expected to be caregiving someone -- so that is very much an unexpected change in our lives which causes us to adjust what we are doing and what we thought our life was all about.  In that process of adjusting, perhaps there are things to forgive and certainly there are things to learn.  Yesterday I learned from a friend who is an OT (occupational therapist) that there are trays that can be put on wheelchairs to prevent people from falling out of them.  I am grateful for all the wisdom that abounds to help us with the task of caregiving.

Nov 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

"The deepest and simplist way to make who we are at one with the world is through the kinship of gratitude."  Mark Nepo

More and more research tells us that having an attitude of gratitude is essentially for health.  Our body, mind and soul are made better by looking for the good in life and being grateful for it.  A wonderful practice is to consider, several times a day, what there is in your life about which to be grateful.  Today I am grateful that I have a granddaughter and her family living close enough to me so I can enjoy and really get to know and love her. I am grateful for clean air and water, I am grateful for health, I am grateful for the care and financial resources available to take care of my loved one.  What are you grateful for today?  

Nov 26, 2014

Self Compassion

"I have just three things to teach:  simplicity, patience, compassion.  These are your greatest treasures.  Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world."Lao Tzu

As caregivers, we are called to give much compassion toward our loved one.  The person we may forget to be compassionate toward is ourselves.  It is critical that we are compassionate with ourselves.  We simply cannot be compassionate toward another unless we are compassionate toward ourselves.  When we are compassionate toward ourselves, we benefit the whole world.  We are all interconnected energetically -- much like the grove of aspen trees, which seem -- as one looks out across a meadow with aspens -- to be separate; but, when one looks underground, one sees the vast network of the one root supporting all the trees.  So, too, with us.  We are interconnected energetically, and when we are compassionate toward ourselves, we are a blessing onto the world.

Nov 25, 2014


"Insight comes, more often than not, from looking at what's been on the table all along."
David McCullough

Insight is an interesting thing.  I find that when I am relaxed and not feeling stressed, insight happens naturally.  I will -- seemingly out of the clear, blue sky -- have an insight about something that has been "on the table all along".  Perhaps it takes another life lesson, or just-the-right-thing being said by another, or the combination of ideas never considered before.  Insight into ourselves, our lives, our situations is optimal - even necessary, for happiness and well being.  Otherwise, we fall prey to staying stuck in the same-old behavior patterns.  What is the most recent insight you have had?

Nov 24, 2014

Honoring the Ordinary

"Older now, you find holiness in anything that continues." Naomi Shihab Nye
So often in life, I think, we are looking for the next peak experience.  Much of our lives can seem like the doldrums, and we can fall into the habit of trying to "just get through it".  I think it is important to resist this; because, after all, that means we are falling asleep to our lives.  What if we chose to come here to live so that we could love and be loved?  Would the way you lead your life be different if you were to consider that possibility?  There are many possibilities to consider regarding why we are here.  Why not consider one that supports your highest health and well being?

Nov 23, 2014

Change is Inevitable

  1. "Nothing endures but change." Heraclitus

    How true.  We humans seem to buy possessions, stay in jobs or relationships, use products to extend our youth -- but nothing endures but change.  We are going through a period with my loved one of more falling.  He no longer walks at all, but he will attempt to stand from his wheelchair and end up falling because his legs no longer hold him.  Abrasions and bruises are the result.  There does not seem to be much we can do about the falling.  The nursing home now has his bed very low to the floor with a foam pad beside it -- in case he falls out of bed.  Another change in the evolution of this debilitating disease.  

Nov 22, 2014

To Their Credit

To their credit -- the nursing home -- the administrator listened to my concerns and put in immediate changes.  Yesterday when I went, he was at his meal, and the area he eats in had more staff and more interaction.  The seating had been changed, so that no one was seated alone.  I also requested more positive engagement.  She took ideas from me for what he would like, and I believe they will be implemented.  The concerning thing still:  he has been in the facility only since June, and this is the 3rd time I have had to speak up for his needs.  So, other caregivers, it appears that the task of advocacy is ours for the duration.  Too bad we cannot just relax and assume the facility we are paying will give the care we want and our loved one deserves.  

Nov 21, 2014

Being Positive Can Lengthen Life

  1. Be positive: You'll live longer, Life coach Dhani Jones 

    There is considerable research which supports what is said above.  Optimism is an elixir for life.  Pessimism and negativity are drainers of life.  Depression, which some have called 'anger turned inward', is another drainer of life.  If you are depressed (and depression is common among caregivers), I recommend that you seek help with therapy and/or medication.  Actually, research indicates that a combination of therapy and medication has the best results.  If you do not have depression, but just have the habit of negativity, then I recommend you stop it.  Yes, simply choose to look for the positive -- it is as simple as that.  Not necessarily easy, but simple.  

Nov 20, 2014


  1. Do you, like I do, consider what might the consequences be when you speak up and advocate for your loved one?  Having worked in systems, I do know that sometimes there are consequences; but usually conditions are improved -- not just for the person for whom we advocate, but for everyone.  What I have asked for with the missed-meal situation is a review of the policy or process.  I do not think it was the aides' fault; I think it is a policy problem.  So, having spoken up, I feel I have done the right thing by my loved one, and I will see how they respond.  It is always informative for me if they get defensive, since that is a poor position from which to respond by a mental health standard.  The last time I spoke up the reaction was defensiveness, but -- as caregivers -- we cannot let that stop us.  Part of our responsibility is to see that our loved one receives compassionate and appropriate care.  

Nov 19, 2014


  1. "The dew of compassion is a tear." Lord Byron

    There are many occasions for tears for those who are caregivers.  Yesterday when I visited my loved one, I knew I was right at meal time, so I went to where he eats.  He was not there.  His food was there congealing at his place at the table.  When I asked where he was, staff ran to get him and apologized.  But this is not the first time he has apparently been overlooked.  There was no one there yesterday with whom I could discuss this, so I will contact them today.  

    When the assisted living facility gave me notice they could not meet his needs any more, I looked at nursing homes within a 70-mile radius.  This is one of the better ones.  And, still. , , , , ,      Darn I hate this.

Nov 18, 2014

Life is Unfolding as It Should

  1. "There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths." Mark Nepo

    What if it is true that we cannot make a wrong decision?  I think that may actually be correct.  It seems that God or the Universe or whatever word you use for the benevolent energy of the universe, does bring right outcomes out of every decision we make.  That does not mean that it will always be easy.  But, when I have made a decision based on what I think is in the best interest of all involved, it always has brought blessings to me.  Unexpected, but not wrong.

Nov 17, 2014


    1. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, ... Diwali
    Last night I went with a friend to a local Diwali celebration.  I had never been to anything that represented the Hindu faith, and it was fascinating.  It has always been important to me to experience and try to understand other faith expressions, since our religion is really chosen mostly by the circumstances of our birth.  The dancing was lovely, the celebration of fireworks, the food.  When was the last time you experienced something that was outside your tradition?

Nov 16, 2014

Impermanence of Life

  1. "Only when we can accept that we are fragile guests on this Earth, only then will we be at home wherever we are." Mark Nepo

    Life is impermanent.  We are reminded of that daily as caregivers.  The almost-daily decline of physical life is evident before us.  With the inclement weather some of us in the northern hemisphere are experiencing, we are also reminded of the fragility of life.  Summer has gone.  Fall is abruptly replaced by winter.  So, too, will our own bodies decline and pass away.  It is the natural order of things.  We could be sad about that, . .. . or we can use that knowledge to live more fully in the present moment.  Today let us take some time to look around, take some deep breaths, and appreciate the life we get to live.  

Nov 15, 2014

Being True to Who We Are

It is challenging for most of us humans to remain true to ourselves.  From early childhood our behaviors are shaped to "fit in" and be appropriate.  While this is the natural process for civilization, it can cause us to become separate from who we really are.  If this message from A Course in Miracles is right, then it is impossible to become separate from who we truly are.  Even with the tasks of caregiving that can be so overwhelming, we can stop periodically to ask ourselves what we really want.  Right now.  What is one small thing we can provide ourselves that we want?  Considering what we want, and delivering it, is one small way to remain true to who we are.

Being True to Oneself

It is challenging for most of us humans to remain true to ourselves.  From early childhood our behaviors are shaped to "fit in" and be appropriate.  While this is the natural process for civilization, it can cause us to become separate from who we really are.  If this message from A Course in Miracles is right, then it is impossible to become separate from who we truly are.  Even with the tasks of caregiving that can be so overwhelming, we can stop periodically to ask ourselves what we really want.  Right now.  What is one small thing we can provide ourselves that we want?  Considering what we want, and delivering it, is one small way to remain true to who we are.

Nov 14, 2014

Robin Williams

  1. "Williams, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, was also suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, a common but devastating disease “marked by abnormal protein deposits in the brain that disrupt normal function.”  Lewy Body Dementia is often associated with Parkinson’s, and when the dementia is combined with the Parkinson’s medications there can be severe side effects. Family and medical sources told TMZ that they believe Lewy Body Dementia was a key factor in the Williams’ suicide." online news
I was struck by the suicide of Robin Williams, and I wondered at the time if he knew that his Parkinson's diagnosis also had the element of dementia.  News released yesterday says that his diagnosis not only included dementia, but the diagnosis was Lewy Bodies Dementia.  Having watched the ravaging of this disease over the past decade in my loved one, I can definitely understand the action Robin Williams took.  I pray for a cure for this debilitating, humiliating and costly disease.

Robin Williams

  1. "Williams, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, was also suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, a common but devastating disease “marked by abnormal protein deposits in the brain that disrupt normal function.”  Lewy Body Dementia is often associated with Parkinson’s, and when the dementia is combined with the Parkinson’s medications there can be severe side effects. Family and medical sources told TMZ that they believe Lewy Body Dementia was a key factor in the Williams’ suicide." online news
I was struck by the suicide of Robin Williams, and I wondered at the time if he knew that his Parkinson's diagnosis also had the element of dementia.  News released yesterday says that his diagnosis not only included dementia, but the diagnosis was Lewy Bodies Dementia.  Having watched the ravaging of this disease over the past decade in my loved one, I can definitely understand the action Robin Williams took.  I pray for a cure for this debilitating, humiliating and costly disease.