Apr 30, 2015

Seeing The Whole Picture

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"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. King was speaking of the civil rights, and we are dealing with dementia and all the responsibilities of our own and our loved one's life, but - still - this quote can offer us hope.  Our loved one has a terminal, progressive disease, that's true.  But, isn't it also true that we all have that?  Certainly, our loved one has more finite life left than we may have, but we all have a terminal condition.  So, let us not lose hope.  If you believe in some existence after this one, you have hope.  If you don't believe in another existence, you can still have hope.  Hope that comes from living your life the very best way you know how.  

Apr 29, 2015

When To Intervene In Hallucinations

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"Visual hallucinations are a symptom of Lewy Bodies Dementia." Mayo Clinic

I try never to intervene with my loved one's hallucinations; however, sometimes it is best to do so.  Yesterday he was very agitated and told me his mother had called on the phone, told him to go immediately to the State Theater in North Dakota, to not question it and to go right now.  He was obviously very agitated, said he was confused and wondered if he should go.  I gently reminded him his mother was dead and that he sometimes experienced things that were not real.  We talked about going to his mother's funeral, which he remembered.  He was significantly less agitated after this discussion, and I told him he could always bring up to me anything that was confusing to him.  I think it is good for us to remember that the visual hallucinations are as real to our loved one as we sitting there is real.  The hallucinations are so real that they circumvent what he knows to be true -- that his mother is dead.  Sometimes it is better to bring our loved one back to reality as we know it.

Apr 28, 2015

Trust Yourself

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"Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live." Goethe

Some how it seems, we all are victims of unwanted and unsolicited advice.  I met with a couple recently who were questioning their parenting because so many people felt it was their business to tell them how to do it -- and to do it differently from what they were currently.  The same is true for caregiving, we will have people who have the audacity to tell us how we should be doing the caregiving; and it seems these are always people who are not willing to help with the caregiving in any way.  Let us trust ourselves.  We will know what it right for us.  When we have a decision to make, let us get the advice of a few, true friends or experts, and let us not pay heed to the advice that is not solicited and is not helpful or true for us.

Apr 27, 2015

Love Eases Suffering

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"Only love, with no thought of return, can soften the point of suffering." Mark Nepo

We have all heard the popular saying:  "Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional."  Perhaps Nepo has an answer to this:  approach life with love, and suffering is diminished.  As humans I think we can misunderstand love.  It is not the mushy stuff of romance novels.  Love is tough.  Love enables us to make hard decisions.  Love softens us as we allow it to flow in and from us.  For Christians, I think an image of love is when Jesus is tossing over the money tables in the temple.  Love does not stand for falsehood.  Love is strong enough to enable us to stand in the truth of what is right for us.  When we advocate for our loved one, we are acting out of love.  Let us support each other to  love -- in the true definition of that word.  

Apr 26, 2015

Power of Love

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"Most things break instead of transform because they resist.  In truth, the more we let love through, the more we have to love." Mark Nepo

As caregivers, we are called to love.  Love ourselves and the loved one for whom we provide caregiving, as well as others.  We can also be loving toward those others who also provide care for our loved one.  Yesterday when I visited my loved one, a very kind woman was feeding him.  I was so grateful.  She was attentive, kind, and respectful.  Exactly how I want him to be treated.  The woman who is doing the new activities with him also spoke to me about how much she loved him.  Love.  It is so good to allow it, encourage it, nourish it.  I took time to talk to the administrator of the care facility to tell her how much I appreciate the attitude of these two employees.  Whenever we see love being acted out, let's acknowledge it.  It is powerful.  

Apr 25, 2015

Are You In Love With Your Life?

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"How can I regain my wonder at being alive?" Mark Nepo

In the Buddhist tradition, it is considered a great privilege to be born human.  Why do we humans so often take this privilege for granted?  Do you, like me, often fall out of wonder at being alive?  Do you forget to look around at this wondrous world and marvel at the miracle of your being here?  Being in nature helps me to realize the beauty of life.  Do you take time to be in nature?  

Apr 24, 2015


"You get courage by couraging." Mary Daly

Just like learning to drive by driving, we learn courage by couraging - by practice.  By practicing doing that which makes us afraid.  Perhaps it is speaking in public, or speaking up for oneself.  We get more courageous the more we do it.   I have long advocated for others, and while it is not always easy, it is far easier for me to advocate for others than for myself.  So, I practice.  A quality I like about myself is that I can make the best with what I have, but that is a fine line between making the best of things and settling for something.  Whatever is our area where we are afraid, and it is often in standing up for ourselves, let us practice.  Practice with graciousness, but practice.  

Apr 23, 2015


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"The practice is to remind yourself that in those unavoidable moments of darkness that come with the privilege of living in a human skin, it is the nature of the light to give itself to you unconditionally." Dennis Merritt Jones

It seems that the subject of mindfulness is everywhere nowadays.  The idea is to be present to one's own life, without aversion or attachment, without resisting what is before us.  To be fully present is a challenge for humans.  We are so often in our minds, and probably have learned to feel superior for being in our minds -- when what is needed for serenity is to be present.  Feeling what is going on.  Observing without judgment.  Not thinking of the past or the future.  Being present now.