Balance

One foot in front of another.
Look at me!  Way up in the air.
Delicate as a dandelion seed.

Each step of a dance on a wire.
Look! I’m fine.  Swinging in the breeze.
Beautiful as a ballerina.

Life swirls around with a bump.
Look ahead!  Aiming for the goal.
Pretending, as if knowing success.

Trouble lands, shaking the footing.
Looking down, the abyss below.
Steadying, breath cleansing from tension.

One step after another.
Look at me.  Don’t see me shaking.
Confident, moving forward until,

I fall, or not.

 

Busy? Not so Much.

A Ramble.

It is a snowy, blustery day, but warm enough that there is no accumulation on the ground.  Terrific.

I have swept and mopped, dusted and polished, scrubbed and scrapped, fluffed and folded.  I have also watched a bunch of TV, checked everyone on Facebook, deleted a bunch of emails, and sat with my little Shadow on my lap.  Just the mention of my sweet black cat brings a smile to my lips.  Me and my Shadow.  You would never know I have another cat, Blue, and a Boston Terrier named Brutus Buckeye who does accompany me on walks.

While doing these things my head was a buzz with ideas.  These are the same ideas that keep me from a good nights sleep.  Ideas that sound really great, until I actually give them attention.

Today those ideas include a family saga that my Dad thought I should write.  Not just the random pieces I heard growing up, but a real story, based upon actual events, that I really know very little about.  All of the people who could tell me details have passed.  A large historical family saga seems completely beyond my abilities.

The house, the one that caught fire, had to be gutted, and has been sitting empty since mid December, finally is ready for inspection of its new wiring.  When you buy a house from someone who thinks they can do everything themselves, and codes are only for other people.

Some very creative solutions, that are illegal, and possibly dangerous, were found within our walls.  Such dangers as bare wires inside a wall with just a little electrical tape to keep things together, or faux grounded outlets (outlets lacking any grounding) near areas of water usage.  The new wiring is ready for inspection and will meet all codes.  Codes which really are for our protection.

I can hear someone thinking that communities can really get picky with their codes, especially when the exterior is concerned.  Live in a historic district and you will really know the pressure code can exert on a homeowner can be worse than the pickiest of homeowner associations, but these codes ensure the maintenance of historically valuable architecture.  Fortunately, I live in the country.  Nobody cares about historical accuracy and general cosmetic stuff, but safety is the concern.

There were also at least ten blog ideas that flitted through my brain, but those are gone.  I live most of my life in the comfort of my own brain, full of stories, and ideas that I just can’t get out to share with anyone else.  There is too much going on.  As I jump from one thing to the next, ideas disappear into the hidden corners of my mind.

Write it down you say?  Ever find those notes later and ask yourself, “What?  What ever possessed me to think that’s a good idea? Nobody cares what I think about that!

Politics?  I don’t even want to hear about politics, why would anyone care what I think.  CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, PBS… all have better sources and, people more politically educated than I.  Recently, I stick to the major local networks, and PBS.  I just want the news.  I can make my own political determination about it, and so can you!

Our house?  It is coming along, agonizingly slowly.  I do not want to bore you with counter choices and flooring.  I like it.  I will share pictures as available.  I can’t wait to see the results of all this planning.  It has been emotionally trying at times.  Repeated moves, make me feel like a couch surfer.  Sleep disruptions, general anxiety, and overall stress is the rule of the day.   We are in a nice place, and have what we need, but I am plagued by stress over my own klutziness and worry over pets and the damage we may cause.

Interpersonal conflict.  No.  Either to personal, or to mundane.

I could just write about my cat.  Shadow is curled up on her stand in the window.  Just a warm little body who plants herself on my lap whenever I make myself available.  Her silky fur, and gentle purr are soothing.

Give your pet, or someone you love, a little attention.  It is a great stress reliever.

On Being Displaced

Being displaced sucks.

Sure, I focus on the good things.  Living in the Residence Inn Marriot was fun, with halls to walk when it was cold outside, a mini gym, a saltwater pool and a hot tub.  Who doesn’t love a breakfast buffet laid out for you everyday, and the three times a week dinner brought in by local restaurants.   My physical activity offset my inability to control my meals, and I am sure my nutritionist was frustrated by my lack of responsiveness.

We were finally found a rental in Slippery Rock, Pa.  A college town.  A college rental, empty of students till the start of the next semester.  Or landlord, desperate for anybody to pay rent for a few short months, gave us a lease after requiring a hefty pet deposit and insurance against pet damage, also welcomed our Boston Terrier and two cats.  We are within walking distance of every restaurant the town has to offer.

The cats cause stress.  The cats were pretty good at my daughter’s home.  Some minor scratching my daughter assured me she could handle.  The last two days at the hotel the cats poked holes in the leatheret dining chairs.  To the cats’ delight, the rental furniture provided at the house include the same type of  dining chairs.  Now I wonder, how many of these chairs will I end up buying.

Most of our furniture survived.  We were able to get one cat-stand out of storage, nicely cleaned and oderfree.   The scratching posts are packed away someplace.  The cats favorite chair is in storage.  Fortunately, Brutus has his bed.

We have begun replacing the stuff destroyed in the fire.  But every day presents a new challenge.  Every day we have to  compromise  in how we do things, because our stuff is in storage.  The meat thermometer is in storage, but I remember cooking by knowing the weight of a meat and estimating the time for appropriate doneness.  Bless the Red Cross for providing us with blankets, because all our extra blankets are in storage.  I have very warm thoughts for the Red Cross while snuggling under my blanket.

We camp.  We have had many moves.  We know how to make do.  But it is so nice, to be in your own home, with your own stuff, doing things the way you like, without worry about how it affects others.

 

 

They Keep Coming

Picture
Olivia de Havilland in Swarm, 1978

They wing their way through the air.  Hundreds upon hundreds without stop.  Birds, bees, grasshoppers all swarm, and a swarm is never a good thing.  A swarm drains available resources.

I love my computer and all it allows me to do.  I can get an instant answer to just about any question.  Feeling down and want an answer to life, the universe and everything?  The computer will quickly give you the answer:  42.

Email is a wonderful feature of the computer.  Email allows family and friends to contact me with news from around the globe nearly instantaneously.  I would love it if I logged on to email to greetings from family and friends, with pictures attached, but that doesn’t really happen in our Facebook world.

What I get are a swarm of emails.  On a normal day, a few hundred emails come my way.  I feel stress!   If I miss a few days, because I’m sick, visiting the grandchildren, or communing with nature off the worldwide web, the emails turn into thousands.

Once, while doing research, I clicked on Railroad Jobs (no, train engineer was not listed). I have received listings of ticket sales and loading jobs, which I hopefully have not blocked.  Hot Brazilians pop up regularly, and I am told there are hundreds of these types of sites, and I just need to keep blocking them.  Every store, every website that I have ever shown any interest in also sends me emails, and I unsubscribe only to get a new round the next time I actually complete some business with them.  There are also the emails from my husband’s recent job search.  (I have begged him to unsubscribe, but there is apparently a delay.

I’ve finally managed to turn off my Facebook notifications that had my phone whistling at me repeatedly during the day.  The phone is another place I have to deal with email, as is my tablet.  After spending hours just getting rid of advertisements on all my devices, I’m not even sure I want to read anything.

Which brings me to my favorite bloggers.  I have found that using the reader, liking pictures and visiting blogs when I want to comment is much more expedient, and I’m even able to catch up where I’ve fallen behind with my favorites.

A recent tip was to read only five other blogs a day.  Okay bloggers,  what do we think of this idea. Is that five currently followed blogs, new blogs, or split between the two?   How do those of you with followers in the thousands deal with your comments and those you follow?

Please give me some help here.  I have been feeling overwhelmed.

Live the Moment

The animals know how to relax.  It doesn’t matter what comes next.  Animals are content to just be in the now, in this one moment.

Waiting in line at the store, surrounded by stressed people with full carts, ticking off their to do lists, worrying about the time spent between minutes, anxious to get on to the next thing, the lady behind me expressed dissatisfaction at the few tellers.

We began talking about the need to relax.  It turns out, she doesn’t think much about relaxation.   She has her routine, lives a quite life in the country, and only feels stress when she comes into town.  It is the traffic and people who cause her stress.

Why be stressed?  I knew the store would be busy and filled with people trying to get too much done in to little time.  I had no place else to be.  I had no need to hurry.  I had nothing else to do.  Only in that moment, content, I had no stress.

I do have the same to do list as everyone else.  I have shopping, a gift list, wrapping, backing, prep for company and travel.   So how do I do it?  How does a person just relax?

You may not believe this, but relaxing is easy.  Relaxing takes focus.  Yes.  Focus on the things around you, instead of the thing that just happened or the thing that needs to happen next, and then next week.  Take a deep meditative breath and exhale all the body tension away.  Focus on the textures, colors, sounds, and things around you.

Focus on the people right in front of you.  Just enjoy this one moment and relax into the next, and just keep going.

Seek Silence

img_0510

Just yesterday I heard that our brains need silence for at least two hours a day.  Apparently, silence enhances memory, stimulates brain growth, relieves stress, helps us sleep, and makes us more sensitive to things around us.

Right now I am in a quiet place.  The only sounds are the air conditioner running, a fan, and the gentle click of my keyboard.  Full disclosure, I rarely seek out silence.    I turn the TV on early in the morning, and often have it on all day.  In the car I listen to the radio.   When I walk my dogs, I am constantly talking, to urge them along, to praise their good manners, to give a little reprimand.

No, silence isn’t something I seek often.  I know all the noise keeps me from hearing what I think, and keeps me from fully feeling my emotions.   Far too often, the distraction of noise is what I want, even need.  The noisy distraction keeps me from feeling alone and vulnerable.  Noisy distraction keeps me from noticing the empty places in my life.

Yet sometimes, I do seek the silence.  The silence I seek isn’t just an absence of sound, but the absence of any distraction. I unplug from the TV, phone and other devices.  I can read in silence, but that fills my mind.  No, the silence I seek makes no demands upon my attention, and leaves my mind free to explore its own thoughts.

This is the silence that helps me puzzle out my problems, and find solutions.  The quiet that brings thoughts of those I love.  The silence that reveals my hopes and dreams.  The silence that brings peace, where my own thoughts are revealed and creativity is born.

A thought occurs to me.  What if I awake in the middle of the night to just have a little silence to think, find peace and creativity?

May you also find rest, peace, and creativity in silence.

Respite

Those who take care of others need periodic respite to recharge for duty.  It doesn’t matter if you are a parent taking care of a new baby, if you’re a husband or wife taking care of a chronically ill spouse, or if you are an adult child taking care of elderly relatives, respite is necessary to the health and well-being of the caregiver.   Care giving is demanding and exhausting.

In the case of new parents, maybe taking turns having complete responsibility for meeting the needs of the baby while the other parent rests, takes a shower, takes a nap, or goes grocery shopping alone will be enough to recharge.  At first it is difficult to give up the constant vigilance, but as you become accustomed to releasing a little of the responsibility, you become more relaxed and trusting of the other caregivers, like grandparents, and this gives you the wonderful respite of going out (or staying in) together as a couple.

We have a friend taking care of his wife with Alzheimer’s.  Relatives and friends begged to help out, but until things became unmanageable, all offers were refused.  Perhaps this is for the best, because now, helpers are bringing in meals, picking up things from the store, and even sitting with his wife for short periods.  These new helpers are fresh, and eager to help, when he really needs the respite.

When my parents were declining, my sister, who lived near, became concerned about our parents taking their medicines and following doctor’s orders.  She took our parents to doctor appointments, went over several times daily to make sure they took their medications on time, and made sure they ate on a regular basis.  At first it was easy to maintain the illusion that my parents were still independent.  My brother lived near, and often stopped in, but primary care was up to my sister.

I would go up once a month and spend a few days, giving my sister a much-needed break. But as my parents health continued to decline, my sister fussed that my brother wasn’t helping enough.  We came up with a plan to include my brother in care giving, and he was perfectly happy to give his time and attention.   He just needed to know his help was desired.

My once a month visits, became every two-week, and eventually every week, until finally, the last two months of their lives I moved in with them.  My sister and I would take turns, so every other night, at least one of us had a chance at getting a full nights sleep.  My brother would come by at least once a week, plus Saturday afternoons.  We all cooperated, we all helped, there was never a feeling that one person was expected to do everything. We all wanted to help, and be there for our parents.  Our spouses also helped with household things that needed to be done.

Even with sharing the responsibility of care giving, there were times when I would fight my sister to go get some rest.  There were times they had to fight with me to just go and get some respite.  I was away from home.  I found a nearby church where I could enjoy the quiet of the beautiful sanctuary and pray.  Across the street was a little restaurant.  I would also go to an afternoon movie.  On one of these outing I got sick (food poisoning?).  I could not be near my parents, all I wanted was to be left alone.  Thank goodness we had a team and a system in place when this happened.

As physically and emotionally difficult as it was to be with our parents while they were dying, we were so glad we could be the ones to take care of them and ease their suffering. Those last days with them were very precious.

If you know someone serving as a caregiver to others, you can take a meal, or even just a dessert, run some errands, do some household chores, or spend a few hours giving them a brief break so they can recharge.  If you are a caregiver, remember, family and friends really do want to help.  It is a blessing to allow them the opportunity to help.

Dealing With Buracracy

Oh my gosh.  Hands shaking, I grab them in a vain attempt to stop or at least hide it.  While obvious that I’m  wringing my hands, I can’t stop.  I shiver all over, as if I’m  freezing, and I am in fact cold.  No one else is cold, in fact the temperature  is in the upper 80’s, and I can’t stop shivering.  I blame it on the air conditioning  and the fan.  An arm over my shoulders, while comforting, does not warm me.  Decisions have to be made, actions taken.  I am frustrated by excuses and apologies.  I am frustrated by lies that I am at fault.  I missed four calls, but there is no record in an age when every call leaves its mark.  Again apologies and efforts to blame others.  My voice tense with politeness as I fulfill yet another repeated request.  Finally, all is in order, I hope.   I say a terse thank you and disconnect  the call.  It takes time, but as the stress and anxiety leaves my  body, I slowly warm.  My hands are the last part of my body to again feel normal.

Funniest Joke Ever

I was 19 and coping with pain and nausea since our wedding for two weeks before Hubby took me to the emergency room and I was admitted for Honeymoon Appendicitis.  It is just like regular Appendicitis, but it coincides with your honeymoon, possibly because of stress.

Once I was allowed to get out of bed and walk around, I sat in the lounge area that overlooked a parking lot where I could see my bother and sister who were underage for visiting in the hospital.  After waving at me, I sat down with my parents, and watched my brother and sister playing around the fire hydrant.

“What are they doing,”  I asked.

“They are trying to unscrew the fire hydrant,”  said Dad.

I thought that was funny, and laughed, which wasn’t a good idea.  I could just imagine the water shooting up into the air like in a cartoon.  To calm me down, Dad said,  “That’s not funny.”  By the way I was laughing, I obviously disagreed.  Imagining the water shooting high into the air after my brother and sister unscrewed a fire hydrant was very funny, and Dad calmly telling me it wasn’t seemed like the funniest joke yet.  The more Dad tried to calm me down, the more amused I was.  I laughed so hard I cried, while holding a pillow against my stomach to keep from popping my stitches.

Finally Hubby took me back to my room, and let me calm down.  Thanks to that appendectomy I got an entire month off before I was allowed to go back to work.  That was the good old days.  I doubt you would get so much time off today.

In a Moment

IMG_0041
Dad and Mom carefree in Florida

When Dad awoke one Florida morning and had no voice, Mom didn’t realize it was a crisis.  Dad drove them to urgent care walk in, waited for his turn, and was told he needed to be in the ER.  My Dad was having a stoke.  The doctor wanted to call transport (an ambulance), but my parents refused.  This was the wrong decision that led to two years of painful struggle, resulting in my Dad’s death.  Dad had no obvious symptoms when he walked into the ER, except he couldn’t talk.  Four hours later, still waiting to be seen with no treatment, Dad could barely stay in the chair, and Mom called family in Ohio for help.  By the time help arrived, the damage was done.

It only takes one moment, and your life is changed. You are in crisis.  All the plans you had are abruptly changed.  If there is anything we can be sure of in life, is that things will change.  Change can be good or bad, but crisis is always bad.

We try to prepare for crisis.  We buy insurance.  We save for rainy day.  With preparation and foresight, we have the money for an emergency car repair or replacement.  If we are smart, we save enough to hold us over in the event of a layoff,  unexpected medical costs, and possibly long-term care.

Prepared or not, crisis will come.  How will you deal with crisis?  You need to prepare for crisis before it hits.  Will you wail with great gnashing of teeth?  Will you leave decisions  up to others?  If this is the case, your plan includes selecting those people.  I hope this doesn’t describe me in a crisis, but I do have a list of people I know I can rely on in any situation.  My list includes: a minister, family members, doctors, financial advisers, and a lawyer. This is a pretty good list even if you are a cool-headed analytical type in a crisis.  I hope I would be a person with a cool head, but a team of supportive people could help formulate a sensible plan.

Your team will help to assess the situation, engage any professionals that may be needed. Your team will help plan your strategy to deal with the situation, and help you implement your plan.   Your team will also help with communication with others, making sure you ask enough questions, and help you remember what you need to.   A team will relieve much of the stress and anxiety of going through a crisis.

For my parents in Florida, an immediate call to family in Ohio would have motivated us into action sooner, including telling them to take the ambulance to the hospital, and calling a family member nearby who is a nurse to meet them at the hospital.  EMS personnel would have performed an assessment, begun treatment, and informed hospital staff on arrival of Dad’s condition.   My parents should have had a local doctor to act as advocate in this situation, any doctor, including the one back home could have inquired into my Dad’s care.  Mom should have had a friend to back  up Mom and make sure the seriousness of the situation was communicated to  hospital staff, and be able to help Mom to ask questions and remember what was going on.

In a moment your entire life can change, and the better prepared you are when crisis happens, the better you will whether crisis.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑