Wednesday, February 24, 2021

 Oh how I enjoy reading A Cup of Jo. Always thought-provoking. 

Including today's: Befriending my Former Selves, a musing on dreams and making peace with the myriad of selves our lives, in our dreams, have become. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Still Wrestling -

The effects of the last post have lingered with me, and I am still wrestling with thoughts of inabilities and resentment. I pull myself up and move forward only to have a trigger and be back to anxiety and fear. Thankfully, I have had plenty of great experiences this week, and I'm really allowing them to feed my soul, hanging on to the goodness for dear life. 

A few Bible verses have kept me centered, and Brene Brown, bless her heart, has reminded me of the strength I have. 

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them. 

When someone asks you to do something that you don't want to do, choose discomfort over resentment. 

Matthew 17:20, Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Psalms 46:10, Be still, and know that I [amGod.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Accusations and Truth -

 Wrongly accused, wrongly quoted, reprimanded, and in some ways, framed. 

I've had to do lots of deep breathing, reflection, looking at my weaknesses - which isn't hard, and embracing my strengths - which is tough. 

Trying to personalize while not internalizing,  understanding while not blaming, and making the conscious decision to walk the higher road, regardless of the repercussions. 

Living my truth, one day at a time. 

And then this morning: 

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32

"The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other." Dieter F, Uchtdorf

I cannot allow myself to live in bitterness and anger and especially clamour. I will love and forgive, silently and boldly, and move forward. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Caregiver Pain -

 Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Caregivers

Family members caring for loved ones with chronic disease such as cancer are at high risk for psychological distress, which may impair their quality of life due to elevated burden. Previous studies point out that caregivers who experience low spiritual well-being have a poorer Quality of Life and more problematic intrapsychic aspects of personality, such as low acceptance of their own emotions and failure to be in contact with their own feelings. It is important to identify the problems and address the spiritual needs of caregivers in order to provide support for their spiritual well-being and reduce their suffering.        

Vigna PM, de Castor I, and Fumis R.
 BMC Palliative Care.  19, 77. 2020.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Going Through Living People's Houses - Estate Cleanup -

 Singer Songwriter Cheryl Wheeler sings, 

Estate sale today, from 1 o'clock to 4
You go and get ready, I'll go start the car
Better to be early, then we'll be the first in line
And you know how I love this, it's amazing what you'll find

Going through dead people's houses
Wonderful things they have collected
Open the drawers and trunks and closets
Don't leave a corner uninspected
I'll head for the kitchen you check out upstairs
Old post cards and pens and blue fiesta ware
Shaving mugs and winged eyeglasses, giant plastic pins
Linen suits and flowered dresses, I'm so glad we got in

They just don't make 'em like this
It's an incredible prize
We can hang it in the kitchen
She was just your size
It's a beautiful frame
And the picture's all right
Salt and pepper airplanes
And that deco light

Tonight we'll go home and sort through our array
We'll find the best spots to put things on display
You can't get this great stuff anymore, I don't know why
But I bet we'll make some young strangers happy when we die

Many years ago I loved this song so much that I performed it in the ASL class I was attending as my final for my foreign language emphasis. 

And this past fall and winter it's been on repeat in my head as I, and some of my siblings, have spent an inordinate amount of time doing exactly this. 

We moved Mom out of her home the first part of November, with the support of her very good, kind, gentle, frank doctor - who told her she could no longer live alone and that she could no longer drive. She was confused, angry, irritated, bothered, and eventually, resigned to these ideas. We loaded a dresser, bookcase, computer, and many of her clothes, books, and other belongings into the pickup and drove them, and her, to my sister's, the place she'll call home for the remainder of her life. 

And with that, a house over-flowing with 45 years of love, aka, things. And being her next-door neighbor, it became my focus to lead the sorting, tossing, boxing-up, and storing of her house. 

Full-well knowing we didn't want an empty house, and feeling like this house needed to remain a home, a lucky/blessed moment arrived when my niece mentioned she was pregnant with number three and could really use a larger home. 

And just like that, the sorting turned into cleaning, removing, dumping, and donating. As quick as this was accomplished the handy-man arrived and painted, updated lighting and outlets, and the pressure, at times, seemed insurmountable. 

Being very careful of other siblings' feelings, and involving them as they could, we did just as Wheeler's song suggests - going through this living person's closets, dressers, trunks, corners, cabinets, under beds - we sorted through cards, postcards, old-time toys, fiestaware/china, S&P shakers of all seasons and holidays, pens and pens and pens, pads of papers, journals, probably 1000 books, family videos and photos, fabric, shaving mugs, and cans of hairspray, even a trophy - belongings that had been stored and saved and used and worn, through a lifetime of rearing seven children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

After every weekend, bundles and boxes would go home to siblings. Two rooms were set-aside for belongings to sort at a later date, at least two pickup loads of bags to donate, and then two large dumpsters filled with "things no one wanted." I brought boxes home, gave things to my kids, set on shelves. 

And - I promised myself that I would not bring home anything that didn't already have a place, and that I would NEVER EVER EVER do this to my children. 

Talk about exhausting. Quite the undertaking, and I am physically, yet more emotionally, exhausted. This weekend, on my 62nd birthday, I had the first Saturday off since beginning this under-taking in November. And I was lost. So yesterday, Sunday - I cleaned and sorted and boxed!

My niece moved in on Friday, and the house looks like a home. Whew. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Making Things -

 On Friday, coming home from work, and having a busy busy weekend ahead, I thought, "I need a project." And then I questioned myself - "What are you saying? Your weekend is full." And then I stopped at the fabric store and bought some flannel to make a baby blanket. 

Last weekend I bought some wool to cut into pieces to sew back together again, in a different shape, and after spending $45 for a pieced wool wall-hanging that I didn't need, I spent $45 to have it framed for a space I don't have. 

Yesterday I spent 2 hours meal prepping for the week. I cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces, put them on pans and roasted them in the oven, the placed them in separate containers, for meals for the week. And then I invented a mac 'n cheese 'n roasted cauliflower dish for dinner (and I don't like mac 'n cheese). 

After dinner I pulled out the flannel, now in a blanket, and continued crocheting around the edges. 

I love a project. I love making things. I love the creating - from concept to finished item, the process gives me life as I give it life. I need projects - I stay engaged, can be present - or not, and incorporate elements of me in anything I produce. 

Dinner last night wasn't just the meal, it was the physical manifestation of my process - my creating. And in that, a gift, a piece of me. 

And today, this came in my email. And lovely Sarah Bessey's post spoke words to me. She feels the same! 


Friday, January 15, 2021

It Takes A Village - Aging Parents -

We all have heard, over and over again, about the importance of a community in rearing a child. I'd like to extend that thought to rearing aging parents. 

Over the past 6 years (and 12 before that), I have been a member of the village caring for aging parents. Scott and I married 17 years ago. He had moved into his parents' home 2 years prior to care for his aging parents. I moved in with my folks shortly after my divorce 17 years ago. Scott and I purchased the home next to my parents, across from his parents, to help care for our aging parents, 15 years ago. So yes, I can write a book on this. 

The past 10 years have been the years of the most need for our parents - 

  • Scott's mother's physical and mental health, and then her death. Scott's father's ever-increasing mental health decline, and his death. And then the tumultuous work in dealing with their estate - everything from art to life insurance to dejunking a home and selling it. As well as the turmoil of finding a happy medium with Scott's siblings as they did everything not-together and facing the repercussions of that. Dismal at best - the village never learned how to be neighbors. 
  • And then as quick as Scott's parents passed and the estate somewhat settled, my parents took their turn. Dad's aging and his physical health decline and the toll his demands took on my mother and Scott and I. His death, and then Mom's mental health decline. And moving Mom to my sister's, all the work that has taken. And now, dejunking and distributing (or storing) 45 years of living and gathering in a home, and getting it ready to share with a niece, continuing to keep it in the family, as well as trying to help Mom understand and re-understand all of this. Thankfully, the village has been extremely neighborly, even in our differences, we have found center. 

I often feel as if Scott and I have been the Primary Caregivers for most of these years, and I have to remind myself this has been a choice, yet we've had to be diplomatic in doing so, and often we've had to remove ourselves from "ownership," as we've listened to siblings tell us what to do, or what we should be doing differently. It's hard to understand what caregiving of someone aging encompasses, until you've been there. Aging isn't pretty, and the memories we have of our aging parents doesn't always compute into what's present. 

And so here we are, moving to a different phase of our village - the Walker home is nearly ready to be occupied by my niece and her family, Mom is nearly settled in her space at my sister's, and the siblings who've been so involved in making this come to fruition are nearly exhausted. 

Our roles are going to change again - child, to adult child, to adult, to caregiver . . . 

I'm sure I'll write more as I have energy; right now I'm looking forward to a long weekend; doing my best to not use my time-off (for the first time since August) to work on sorting/sentimentalizing/saving/clearing and cleaning the family home (interestingly, not the home I grew up in). I have a project ready and several movies queued, so I won't be pulled eastward to do just a little more. 

And - this is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Emotionally and physically exhausting. I have created companies, been an advocate for the arts communities, I have been a point person for businesses, I have managed companies, I have created courses, I am the oldest child, I am a step-parent, a parent, and being a daughter of an aging parent and all that encompasses is tough. I don't think I'll be running for mayor any time soon. 

The Walker Village: 

    7 children - 4 near, 3 from afar

    Spouses - 4 who have been phenomenal front-line and behind-the-lines

    Primarily 3 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren

    1 grand-daughter and her family who will be moving into the home

    1 sister