One Word Wednesday – COMPASSION

This Wednesday is a special day for our family – My sweet husband’s birthday.  There is joy on July 30…because what would I do without him?  Nope!  Not even gonna think about it!

BUT…and there always seems to be a “BUT” in our new ALZ world…birthdays (along with lots of other holidays) are to be danced around because they upset mom so much.  She gets angry because “nobody told me” or sad because “I can’t believe I forgot something so important” or has an anxiety attack because holidays are different.  There are frequently extra people around.  Meal time is disrupted.  The food is different…although who could get upset about the addition of CAKE????.

So, as I plan to celebrate this wonderful, patient, far-too-kind, magnificent father and husband…I am tying myself up in a tiny tummy knot over the upcoming festivities.

AND it’s Wednesday – time for another One Word Wednesday.  My son is dirty from football and my daughter is still in full dance attire, but off we we go to the OWW jar.  Let’s see what we come up with….

OOOOHHHHH, that’s a good one!  COMPASSION

Benevolence.  Empathy.  Tenderness.  Mercy.  Kindness.  Humanity…just a few words that popped up when I went to thesaurus.com – one of my favorite places to visit!  And over at his sister site, the online dictionary, compassion is defined as:  (noun) – a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

That’s the difference right there – that strong desire to make others feel better.  To alleviate their suffering.  And as the saying goes – everyone is fighting some kind of battle.  Everyone is suffering from something.  Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.

What if we all had to wear a shirt or a pendant or a bunch of post-it notes that told the world what battles we are fighting.  Would that make people more compassionate?  Putting it right out there in-your-face?

The Bible tells us to “clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”…but just like layers on a hot day, compassion can get peeled off like a cardigan or a sweatshirt or a scarf when the challenges of the day are coming at us from all sides and that scarf of compassion is starting to feel a little snug!

But when I wear my compassion like something beautiful.  Something new.  Something just unwrapped from under the Christmas tree.  When I wrap myself in it and enjoy it’s beauty – because aren’t we all prettier when we are “clothed in compassion”? – I am kinder.  I am more creative.  I am a much better caregiver.  Compassion is a game-changer.

I hope some of you can find time to link up with your take on COMPASSION.  Just follow the instructions at the bottom of this post or leave your story in the comments section of this post.  I will be linking up from my Blogger site A Little Bit of This and That a bit later on….after we make breakfast for the birthday boy!

Okay – your turn!

My simple tricks for staying positive

Today has been a strange day – actually, the past few days.  My son had his last baseball tournament (big deal).  My husband had the day off today (big deal).  And I haven’t felt 100%.  Not sick – just yuck.

And I realized this morning that I have had several occasions where I wanted to lose my patience with mom and some of the more irritating realities of caring for someone with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s.

I also realized that I DIDN’T lose my patience.  And I didn’t sulk or pout or ruin anyone else’s day because I was in a funk.  And that got me to thinking….

How?  Why?  What’s the formula for patience?

And when I thought about some of my tricks – I realized how silly and simple and spontaneous they are.  And that seemed like a good enough reason to share them here.  I mean, I bet we all have the same instincts.  The same desire for good and calm and positive reactions during times of stress and annoyance and short fuses and overtired-ness (is that a word?…I can assure you it’s a reality, but probably not a word…my 10th grade English teacher would be so disappointed…).

Don’t get me wrong…I still pout.  I still grind my teeth.  I still clench my fists and have to leave the room.  But I keep finding ways to turn it around – to stay positive.

So, over the past 3 days, I have jotted down some of the different techniques I used to not lose my cool.  To not be ugly to mom or anyone else who happens to be in the line of fire.  To make lemonade out of the lemons of my day!

1.  Keep a mirror on the wall.  It’s really hard to be angry or grumpy once you catch a glimpse of your face.  We have a mirror that hangs behind mom’s favorite couch and I can take one glance at myself, smile and find a way to be kinder.

2.  Count to 10.  I know it’s old-fashioned,  but counting to 10 – sometimes in Spanish just to make it more fun – gives you time to focus on your inner desire to be kinder.  To remind yourself that they are not acting that way to be annoying – they have Alzheimer’s and can’t help it.  10 seconds of focus goes a long way when you are looking for patience.

3.  Pick a “code word”.  My son and I decided “Pickles” was a great word to break up tension.  It’s a funny word.  It’s really hard to say “Pickles” in an angry voice. (“Bubbles” is another word that is hard to say and stay angry.)  Get your family in on the fun and when they see you losing your patience – have them work the code word into a sentence or whisper it in your ear.  If you’re on your own – say it to yourself or make it a song.  The sillier, the better!

4.  Be grateful.  I take a few minutes every day to find something to be thankful for.  Clouds in the sky.  A breeze.  My dog, Sophie.  Watching my daughter dance or my son play basketball.  A cold drink on a hot day.  Toast with real butter.  A favorite song.  Whatever makes you say “thank you”.  A grateful heart is a more open heart.  It’s easier to be patient when you realize how many blessings you have.

5.  Laugh.  I find a way to laugh with mom every day.  I make her forgetfulness light.  We make it a joke.  I make it as if this isn’t the norm – or like she’s scatterbrained – not someone with advanced ALZ.  She loves to make light of it.  It eases her mood.  It eases my mood.  Everything is easier with a little bit of laughter.

6. Hold hands.  When mom is sad or confused or I can see her frustration building and I am about to go to that OFF-LIMITS place of trying to explain something to her…if you care for someone with Alzheimer’s – you know exactly what I mean!, I hold her hand.  Instantly, she calms down.  Instantly I can feel how much she needs me.  Instantly I want to be there for her.  It’s like I felt with my children when they would wake me up crying in the night…I would drag myself out of bed, grumbling, and as soon as I picked them up…all was right in my world.  To be loved and needed like that is a gift.

7.  Write.  Journal/blog/e-mail/post/text.  Whatever you have to do to get it out.  And in your time.  In your words.  I can feel the tension go right out of my shoulders with every thought I type.  It’s easier to see the humor each situation.  It’s easier to make it less personal.  It’s definitely easier to release it onto paper or a computer screen than to put it out in the Universe in the form of an argument or snide comment or angry word.  The hardest part is starting.  But PLEASE start.  Write it down.  And write it with the attitude that you are sharing your story with someone you care about.  You’ll take it easier on yourself.

I also have hobbies, music, a great family, a very fluffy dog.  I don’t let myself get bogged down in what isn’t getting done.  I try not to wait until the last minute to do something – being under pressure makes my fuse shorter.  I swim laps 5 days a week and I pray – those are my secret weapons!

I wish I got more sleep.  I should give up caffeine.  I need to get back to yoga.  I am trying to spend at least one afternoon a month with a friend. And I accept that I will have bad days…I just try and forgive myself as soon as I can.

I hope my simple tips for staying positive give you some ideas you can use.  I’d love to hear what you do to not lose your cool.  I can always use a new tip or two these days.

 

 

It’s like I’ve misplaced my keys….

…that’s how I feel every year soon after the last baseball game is over.  I know it’s over when it’s over.  But I still have to load the car.  Pack up all the stuff.  Drive all the way home from whatever far-away baseball fields we were playing at.

But the cooler is unpacked.  The frog togs are in the laundry.  The last picture is taken.  There was no talk of practice next week.  No corrections after the game.  There were thank yous and praise and ‘atta boys’ and we walked away.

My son went home with a teammate to swim.  I’m glad.  I know this hits him harder than it hits me – and it hits me pretty hard.  But I find myself wandering around…it’s like something is missing.  Like I’ve misplaced my keys.  Or I’m only wearing one earring.  Or my husband told me to record a show or wash a certain shirt or something and I didn’t write it down…

But it’s just the end of another baseball season.

And not even a great season.  We were pretty awful.  My son was good.  Really good.  I guess that’s why we enjoyed most of the season.  That, and the fact that we’ve never met a baseball game we didn’t like!

The boys have really come together over these past few weeks and we started winning.  Murph hit a game-winning double and yesterday had this awesome leaping catch at first to end the game in a win.  He landed flat on his back and knocked the wind out of himself, but he held the ball.  That made it not hurt so badly!

I like being in the stands with the other parents.  I like packing the cooler.  I like organizing all the gear and water and snacks and chairs and umbrellas and shade canopies and listening to the computer navigation lady get me to the different fields.

And it’s over.

And I loved our coach.  I’m not sure he was everyone’s cup of tea.  I wonder sometimes at parents who want a coach that they like.  I want a coach my son likes and responds to.  I want a coach who values my child and makes him a better, more confident, more prepared player.  And that was Coach Trey.

I wanted to pull him aside and offer to mentor him – to teach him how to communicate with parents and how to send a proper e-mail.  And how to better understand what parents want from their coach…but my son begged me not to.  He would have been mortified.  Murph assured me that I have plenty of children and I don’t need to adopt any more – certainly not his coach.  (eye roll)  So I backed off.  But, what a team we could have been.  Get parents AND players on your side – you can move mountains and win games.  Oh well…we’ll probably have to break in a new one next year.

I made them stand together after the game.  Some day Murph will be glad (and not mortified) by this picture.  Coach Trey was important to him, so I made getting this picture important to me.  I can always tell when my son has a coach that has made a lasting impact on my son…so what’s a little embarrassment over a “mom moment” compared to that!?

Express Red 2014

I wish I was….#RadicalSelfLoveJuly, Day 26

July has flown by.  Sodapalooza.  Baseball tournaments.  Summer dance intensives and the #RadicalSelfLoveJuly Instagram Challenge.

Today, Day 26:  I Wish I Was…

Back at the beach, of course!  Even my toes look relaxed, don’t they?  Poolside in Cancun with my dearest friends.  A Bacardi Black Pina Colada.  A couple of scary salsa dancing men with bad intentions!  A beautiful wedding of two beautiful souls.  And hours by the pool with a beach view.  Perfection….

Where do you wish you were right now….???

Inspiring??? Who? Me???

I am pretty laid back, in a manic sort of way!  I can roll with things that some find stressful.  I can respond in a crisis and not fall apart (I will have a migraine once it’s all over, but never during!).  I think one of the greatest gifts we can give is to make others feel valued.

BUT – I do not handle praise very graciously.  It makes me uncomfortable.  Many times I am proud of my accomplishments and occasionally pat myself on the back for things I do that are difficult for me (my friends Jean and Lisa know all too well about this), but I tend to keep it to myself.

So, when the lovely Meike @ hubilicious nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger award, I went through lots of steps to make sure it wasn’t someone who hacked her account to spam me….that’s just how cynical I have become!!!

Surprise – it’s a real nomination.  For me!  And this journey with my mom and my kids and my husband and that big white fluffy dog!  Inspiring…WOW!  At the risk of sounding preachy – I do pray about that many days.  I know the power of connecting with other caregivers (keep reading to find out more about them) through the blog world.  I know the strength I have found and the laughter and the inspiration.  And yes, I pray to be a comfort or a bit of comic relief or an inspiration to others who pop by my site and join me in my journey.

So, thank you hubilicious for paying attention and being so kind and supportive.  I write for my sanity, but what writer doesn’t want to be read?  At least once in a while!

Here are the Rules for the award:

1. Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.  – Check!
2. List the rules and display the award. – Check!
3. Share seven facts about yourself. – EEK!  Okay, check!
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated. – can I start with 4???
5. Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you. – check and check! (truthfully, I followed hubilicious as soon as I knew I enjoyed the writing – I can’t be expected to go and search out or remember that I even want to – I just click that follow button and enjoy the ride – WordPress has spoiled me!)

Okay, 7 facts about me…

1.  I am from Ohio.  I am proud to be from Ohio.  I love most things Ohio.  I never even gave LeBron any crap, because I might have done the same thing and he’s from Ohio…and now look!  He’s back!

2.  I crack myself up.  I am occasionally embarrassed by how many times a day I catch myself laughing at me.  My thoughts.  My ramblings.  My inner monologue.

3.  I watch too much Food TV and Cooking Channel and HGTV.  Those are my guilty pleasures.  My new year’s resolution in 2013 was I would cook something I saw on tv at least twice a month or I would have to give it up…bring on the new recipes!!!

4.  I cried and wore black for 3 days when Tim Russert died.  I had such admiration for him and his brilliance and easy-going manner and ability to talk intelligently about anything political.  Also his love for his father and his family.

5.  I love Al Jarreau and have been known to try and sing along with the scat parts with wild abandon and at the top of my voice (in my car, with the windows UP!)

6.  I can’t get used to my children being so grown up.  I sneak in and watch them sleep and lay my hands on them most nights or mornings to pray for good judgment and good health and grace and the security that comes from knowing someone loves you more than anything.  I adore being a mom…my kids take my breath away.

7.  I am my father’s daughter.  I believe in the goodness of all mankind.  I think it’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.  I say why shake hands when you can give a hug?  I love to laugh.  I love to talk.  I feel the need to be kind to strangers…not that I’ve ever really met one.  I am too familiar too soon and can’t help it.  I am too loud.  I am too corny.  I will never be cool.  And I am comfortable in my own skin.  I love you Daddy – I miss you always.

7b.  I can quote all of John Cusack’s lines in the movie “The Sure Thing”…it’s not that important, (I am certain most people don’t even think it’s a very good movie – what do they know!>) but it amazes me what my brain decides to hold on to and what it’s okay with letting go of!

I asked my family to tell me what they would list if they had to share one fact about me:

  • Mom:  “you’re my best friend” – How sweet is that?
  • My son:  “you’re very kind and loving” – WOW!
  • My daughter:  “you’re a really good cook…but I wouldn’t say that, because I hate to eat your cooking…it’s too weird…” – That’s my girl!
  • Sophie:  “you’re a good dog mom and buy the best treats” – she’s pretty easy to please!
  • I forgot to ask my husband, because we got distracted by talking about the kids

And here are the bloggers who inspire me – I’m starting with 4 because 15 is just too many!

1.  Paula from Smidgens, Snippets & Bits.  She writes from her heart.  She pulls no punches.  She is sometimes raw and her words make me feel real emotion.  She is one awesome lady who reached out to me to introduce herself and made me fall in love with connecting through my blogging.  She is a goal setter (which totally inspired me to do the same) and she is honest with her progress (amazing!).  In a past life, Paula was a nurse and you can feel her caring right through the screen.

2. Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm.  She is fun, energetic, a great cook, a recipe sharer, a home remodeler and nurturer.  She vacations and takes us with her through her blog – love, love, love the dive photos!  She gives and gives and shares it all with us through her words and pictures.  She’s amazing!

3.  Liz at Laws of Gravity.  She’s a substitute teacher with great stories of her classroom adventures.  She is not one of the “there to grab a paycheck” subs – she expects the kids to learn and participate and she tells a great story.  She also has a fun “what if” that always gets me thinking.  And I love to read the responses to the questions she has us ponder.

4.  Nancy at Alzheimer’s Wife.  She has a way with words.  Her stories flow.  Like when you are talking to a good friend.  She shares about her life caring for her husband, Bo, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, and their new life.  She has a thing called “NancyCamp”, which is brilliant, that she organizes for her grandkids (and I wish I could go too!!!).  She takes a mean picture – which always inspires me to want to photo-document more of my posts.

These are my nominations.  I know, regardless of the day or time or weather – I will find a smile when I visit their sites.  I have no idea if they will accept this nomination or challenge and I’m not really that worried about that.  I just wanted to say publicly how important their words are to me!

Thank you again hubilicious – congrats on the World Cup! – I will do my best to inspire and paint pictures with my words as I document my journey as a caregiver.

 

Five Minute Friday – FINISH

Usually I immediately know what I will write about when I read the Five Minute Friday prompt…but not today.  Today I read it.  I was a bit sad by Lisa-Jo Baker’s announcement.  I suppose that blocked my immediate urge to write.  But I love FMF, so here I am, without an idea, but a timer set to write for 5 minutes on FINISH.

Together we can

GO:

There are lots of days when I say “I’m done!”  or as I say to the kids, “i dunn, i dunn, i all dunn” and we laugh.  It’s my cue to them that I am reaching a point of exasperation at whatever the day has brought.

It’s usually brought on by some classic Alzheimer’s behavior with mom.  The constant questioning.  The complaining.  And lately, the following me everywhere I go – especially to the bathroom…eek!  Some days I am patient as Job and some days I am anything but patient.

And as “dunn” as I might get from the annoying behavior that is nobody’s fault, I know I am definitely not ready to be FINISHED.  Last week a dear blog friend of mine had her caregiving days FINISH when her wonderful husband passed away.  It FINISHED.  Just like that.  And although she knows he is in a much better place.  He is healthy and healed again.  He is whole.  It still hurts.

It is rare that I waste any time wishing things were different than they are.  I don’t lament our lives or our circumstances.  But on those days when I am FINISHED…because I am tired.  Because I need to recharge.  Because I have let myself fall into a funk (and I know I shouldn’t).  Because I am plain ole feeling sorry for myself – I still know I am not ready for it to FINISH.

I am an only child.  I lost my Daddy way too early.  I don’t have a lot of blood relatives that I know very well.  It’s been me and mom for the last 20+ years.  And although I know when the time is here – I will be okay.  This week the word FINISH has taken on a much different meaning.

My heart is breaking for my friend Paula and making me so aware of how fast time goes by.  I hope it makes me kinder and more patient and treat each day, each minute as the gift that it is…

STOP

If you’ve never joined in on Five Minute Friday – you should!  It’s a rush of energy and random thoughts and a flurry of words and fingers on a keyboard.  Writer, dabbler, whatever – it’s worth way more than the 5 minutes you spend!

 

This Sounds Fun! Texas in a Box!

Kids in my kitchen! Peanut’s solution to “onion” eyes!

I must admit – I had planned to not commit to any cooking-baking type thing until after my kiddos had gone back to school.  Summer is just too much fun to have to stop and capture a recipe!  I love to cook and try new things and because I’m a bit scattered these days, I tend to have to make up a lot of recipes out of whatever I have on hand!  That does not mean I remember to take pictures or measure amounts or any of the things a good food blogger does!  And when the recipe turns out – I am bummed – because I can never make it quite the same way again!!!

BUT (you knew that was coming), I just popped by my friend Wendy’s site A Day in the Life on the Farm and saw this fun new blog swap – LOCAL FLAVORS and couldn’t resist!

My two best helpers!

I am not a native Texan, but man, do we have some wonderful flavors and products that pretty much scream TEXAS!!!  I have learned to cook a mean brisket, make the best carnitas and I believe I have perfected my guacamole since moving her 9 years ago!

Clearly, this Local Flavor Blog Swap was meant for me.  I so wish my friend Rachel had a blog – she is always sharing the most fun things from Washington State that she grows in her garden or picks up at the Farmer’s Market….but I digress!  Anyway, I’m excited to join in.  Excited to go shopping.  REALLY excited to see what comes in my package from my swap partner and have already convinced my daughter to be my photographer when it is time to capture my “show off” post!

So, fingers crossed that I can actually capture this enough to do it justice even at the end of summer surrounded by kids and friends and mom and her posse of home health workers!

Keep watching to see the big reveal!…and probably some clues as to what I’m sending off…I’m sure I won’t be able to resist sharing some shopping fun, Texas-style!!!

You should check this out and join in…I think it sounds like the best idea.  Thank you Chaotic Goddess Swaps .  I feel certain this is going to be fabulous fun!

One Word Wednesday – Faith

Another week of adventures with mom and our dance with Alzheimer’s.  We are getting back in the “home health” swing of things.  New lead nurse, new weekly nurse and new speech therapist, same aide and physical therapist.  I don’t love change, but God is good and as it turns out – so is a little bit of change!  I really liked all the new folks and they connected really well with mom.

All the appointments, a baseball tournament and a week-long ballet intensive have made it tough to get much down in writing.  And I missed it!!!

Dance Besties

 

Thank goodness for Wednesdays and my ritual of One Word Wednesday.  My daughters dance bestie helped pull our word this week since my poor son is at “Marine Week” of football conditioning camp…doesn’t that just sound intense!?

This week the prompt is FAITH.

 

 

FAITH

 

What a powerful word.  And for me, as a caregiver, a necessary part of every day.  Every hour, every minute, every second!  Faith is a place I can rest.  And right this minute…I can feel annoyance building up in me.  And just moment reflecting on the power of FAITH.  The gifts I have been given.  The knowledge that I am right where I am supposed to be.  The calm that comes in letting it all go to let God take over.  FAITH.

I wonder sometimes if I remember to rely on my FAITH enough?  Are there better techniques, reminders, prompts, ideas – things that you do?  If you have some time and some FAITH to spare – link up below and share how FAITH plays a part in your day, especially if you’re a caregiver to a mom, a spouse, a little one.  I’d love to read your stories.

Okay – it’s your turn….

 

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