Category Archives: Self Care

A Litany of sorts

It’s been 22 years since my mother died.  And this year has been particularly rocky.  This has puzzled me as I have a good job, a great boss and have been building my life up again after losing Grandpa.

An incident of no matter really happened the weekend before Thanksgiving that threw me for a loop.  A choice of my sibling felt punitive and I was devastated. So I looked at why I was reacting so.

I am now the age Mom was when her kidneys failed.  She struggled with this health issue for three years.  So I called the company EAP and had my first appointment with a grief counselor.  (I find it interesting that they’ve been able to determine that 4 sessions is all I will need, or maybe it is that they’ll only pay for 4.)

I’ve been to counselors before and had forgotten that the first appointment is a telling / re-telling of life history.  For how can we go anywhere if we don’t know where we have been.

I don’t particularly like my litany.  It goes something like this:

Dad was an alcoholic.  Mother had migraines.
Got married to an alcoholic and had 3 children.
When the relationship started to get violent, (no he never hit me but did kick the bed) I left and got a divorce. Moved in with mom.
Mom’s kidneys failed. Grandmother got cancer.
Three years later they died within months of each other.
Re-married.  That didn’t work out.  Got divorced.
Grandpa got dementia and after a couple of years overseeing his care, quit my job to take care of him full-time.
Grandpa passes away and it’s harder to get back into the work force than I expected.
And now, I’m hitting the grieving process again.

The thing about the above list is that  it only paints one or two colors of my life. Looks like I’ve done so much sacrificing or struggled to survive.  Well, that’s so untrue!  That’s just the list of why I’m at the counselor’s office.

But another list of my life looks like this:

Met my best friend when I was 10.
Started college
Had 3 children
Got a job that had college tuition reimbursement
Finished BA degree
Made quilts
Learned to play guitar
Took kids  to Disneyland
Watercolor painting
Read great books
Saw Movies, embarrass kids when I am the only one in the theater
Kids and I went to Disney World, Epcot Center and the lot
Lillie and I went to London
Gena and I went to the Dominic Republic
Bought some property, because there was a field of buffalo across the street.
Met Daughter in law and grand-daughter
Bought a violin and learned to play
Have a whole line up of pets throughout the years
Juggled all over and now teach it to other

Both lists are true. Both are incomplete by themselves.  What my life is, is a combination of the two.  I’ve had sunshine and sorrow each step of the way.  And as I work with the counselor, I want to become more purposeful in where this life of mine is headed, be more thoughtful in my choices and leave a great legacy.


A Cougar Like Maude

haroldandmaudeaI don’t look like I’m 53.  I don’t believe people when they tell me I look 27.  But sometimes younger men will flirt with me.  That is complementary but that is as far as I’ll take it.

I don’t want to be a cougar.  My daughter says it sounds uncomplimentary because of the hard ‘g’ sound. To me it brings up images of a Sugar Momma exploiting the youth.  Also, I don’t have enough money to be one.

But I’ve been thinking instead of being a Norma Desmond using up those around her, (did the monkey try to leave?) I could be ok with being a Maude.

As I recall, Maude was on an adventure called life and allowed Harold for the ride. By being who she was, she empowered him to look at life different become someone.

In fact, I hope all my interactions with people empower them to become someone.


Loving Everyone Update

Some people are easy to love.  They are open, happy, light up any room they enter.  Others not so much.  And it’s almost impossible to love fellow drivers in rush hour traffic.

I know, I’ve tried.

I am very hard on myself when I fail.  I find myself yelling or honking on my daily commute. Then I remember I’m supposed to be loving those around me.  So I yell a blessing in their direction.

Which doesn’t really help the unsettled feeling I’m left with.

And a few months ago, I discovered I have high blood pressure.  Factors are part heredity, part weight and part stress. So I’m doing the things that help bring it down.

Being hard on myself for the failure to love everyone has to go.

So I’ve started doing something that seems to help. When I hit the snooze button in the morning.  I lie awake (or asleep, for that happens as well) with the intention of loving everyone. For 10 minutes, I just think about the people I love and those I will interact with this day and love them.

Because I have decided that I can be successful in my goal if I don’t make it a 24/7 thing. I start my day full of love, which is nice.  I have a better experience through out the day. And I have noticed I don’t get as upset when in traffic.

I still have the bigger goal to love everyone all the time but this smaller 10 minute goal helps me have a win everyday.

Boulders in Life

When Gpa was first diagnosed with dementia, a co-worker told me about a pastoral counselor that was helping her family.  I went and she was great.

After sharing my experience and frustration, the counselor observed that it was like I was told to push against a large rock and I thought it meant to move the rock.  But this rock was so large it would be impossible to move.

This insight helped me tremendously then and even now.  When I get frustrated with the way life is going, I stop and ask myself if I am trying to move a rock that won’t.

This weekend I went on a women’s retreat and had a chance to walk a labyrinth. The path weaves back and forth making a circle, doubling back several times, making a lovely Celtic pattern.  Though in life it isn’t as much fun doubling back time and again.

However, later, I had a thought about that rock. The one I tried to move by pushing.  The thought is this, maybe I am just supposed to stand next to the rock.

Just stand next to the rock.

Just stand.

First Coat of Paint

This re-flooring project has been a happy and sad one for me.

As I go through items, move furniture, pull up carpet, memories  are brought to mind.  I am glad for the thoughts of other days and loved ones no longer here on this earth.  Then the sadness washes over me.  Waves of grief.  l stop what I am doing and cry.

I’ve been told the best way to deal with grief is to let it happen.  Don’t resist it.  Feel the feeling then move on.

Makes me wonder if the speaker has had this type of grief. Tsunami strength.  The type to sweep you away with it. It isn’t easy to let the waters of grief envelope you and cover your entire being.

At the point  I think I am drowning, I realize I am holding my breath.  So I breathe. Lately when people indicate they are having a bad day.  I tell them, “remember to breathe.”

On the surface it sounds like silly advice. But from where I am, it is good to remember and to focus on something as basic and life giving as breath.

I took the picture of the first coat of paint to have a reference.  I don’t know how I’m going to do the den and master bed room. Maybe have it be a solid color as in the picture.

I looked at the picture the other day and with the art on the wall, it kinda looks like a yin/yang symbol.  Though the little shapes should be circles and opposite from each other.

Still I like the idea of an accidental symbol, waiting to be noticed.

first coat of paint

first coat of paint

Almost Acid Stain Concrete

When Gena and I first talked about replacing the carpet, she found pictures of acid stained concrete.  Veritable works of art.

I was so excited!

Then I talked to someone at the paint store and read the directions to the prep product. If the concrete has been treated in any way, looks like we can’t stain it.

When we got done pulling up the carpet in my room,  I liked the look and almost left it the way it was.  Thought about putting down a sealer to protect the floor.  But I had bought the enamel and had a good plan B.  So we moved forward.

But I thought I’d share what the floor could have been.

floor under the carpet

floor under the carpet

Only looks like Hoarding

I have finally figured out what to do with the floors.  Well, Gena did.  I’ve been needing to pull up the carpet and replace it.  But with what?  I don’t want to put carpet down again,  The dog will use the new carpet like he did the old. Don’t want to go through the time and expense of tile, or wood, either.

So when Gena’s work place painted their concrete, she asked what we had under the carpet.  It’s concrete!  She showed me some beautiful pictures of stained concrete.  Some of them are really works of art.

Boy, did I get excited.  Only problem was the concrete had been treated so had to go the enamel route.

I spent mornings and weekends pulling back the carpet and getting the tack strips pulled up.  Then Gena helped me move all the furniture out of the two bedrooms and closets.

Here’s a picture of my den.  Looks like hoarding but it’s not.  And I’ll go through it and only put back the things I really love and want.

bedroom stuff in den

bedroom stuff in den

My Lumpy Bumpy Boob

Wednesday I went to have a breast exam and mammogram.  It has been over 5 years.  Where has the time gone?  Partially I don’t like having mammograms and partially I was busy taking care of Gpa.

And partially because I don’t know what I’m doing.  The first time I did a self exam I was about 13 years old. There were all sorts of lumps! That freaked me out.  Nope didn’t tell anyone.  Just wasn’t going to do that again.

But I did. Periodically over the years, I’d be reminded and I’d do a self exam.  Now that I knew I had lumps and bumps it wasn’t so freaky.

Over the years, I’ve met women who have had breast cancer, or a relative of there’s had it.  Lots of different experiences. And spreading to lymph nodes and beyond.

So I learned Wednesday to start the exam under the arm.  Makes sense, I know there are lymph nodes there.  But I didn’t know there are some around the clavicle!

Another tip is to pick a day of the month that is easy to remember and do it then.  Like a birthday.  The woman who was doing the exam’s birthday is on the 27th.  I think that is when I’ll do mine each month.  That way I can remember her and how well she taught me.

She showed me on a model what normal and not normal lumps were.  Then during the exam, she had me feel my lumps which are of the normal kind.

I am really glad I went!

Be sure to take care you, too!

Tantrums at 50

Tantrums are not exclusive to 2 year olds.  They have born the brunt of discussion as that is the age tantrums are first manifested for many.

However, it is really mostly about frustration on the situation at hand and inability or unwillingness to deal with it.

I have been having a tantrum.  I haven’t thrown myself on the floor and wailed.  But for those closest to me have noticed I am not myself.

And to snap out of it!

Well if only it were that easy.

I’ve been frustrated that life isn’t what I want it to be.  I’ve had too many loved ones die over the last 20 years.  Has it really been 20 years since mom and grandma died?

That would make anyone throw a fit.  Being without a loving influence for that long.

I’ve been acting like they are gone, gone.  And I don’t want to be here, here.

However, I’ve forgotten an important thing I believe.  I believe we are eternal.  Our spirits live forever.

You wouldn’t know that I believe that by the way I’ve been behaving.  Internally if not externally.

Oh, boo hoo, I’m all alone.  The people who have loved me most are gone. Almost to the point of singing the worm song dad taught me.  Gonna go eat worms!

But wait, someone reminded me.  I told him I was missing my mom.  He said to find her. AND I DID!

Oh yeah,  mom may not be in her body but she, the part of her that is eternal is still around.

It is as if I was a two year old kicking and screaming on the floor with the adults standing around patiently waiting for me to finish the fit.

And now that I have we can interact. Maybe not the way we used to, but the love is still there.  I can feel it.  It surrounds me, encourages and uplifts me.

I am not alone. And I have all this love I can share with others.

Let you know that you are not alone. You are loved and we can have a great live in the time we have left on this side of the veil.


My Harshest Critics

I don’t know about you but the people who have held me to the highest standards have been the people who I love the most.  And I know they love me too.  However, it is very hard to live with knowing that I don’t measure up to the expectations they have for me.

My dad, I know wanted the best for me.  He wanted me to be the best. Even to the point where, from my view point, I got in trouble for making straight A’s in high school.  How is that possible you might ask?  It has taken me a long time to sort out.  (call me a slow study if you will. But here goes:

In Bookkeeping class, the first 6 weeks I made a 100.  Wow, that is super awesome!  The second 6 weeks I made a 94 or maybe 92.  (it’s been 35 years so I’m a bit fuzzy on the details)

Dad asked me what happened.  Why did my grade drop?  I didn’t have an answer.  I was surprised and shocked to be asked that question.  I handed him a straight A report card and I get reprimanded.  I thought I was going to be told,  “good job, keep up the good work.  I am proud of you.”

All I could say was, “I don’t know.”  All I heard was that I had failed.

Looking back on what was happening in the class room…..There was some down time in the first 6 weeks and the teacher filled it with extra credit work. So of course I did it. But subsequent weeks through to the end of the year, there wasn’t as much if any extra time.

I would do extra credit work if offered, but I never thought to ask for it.

But later in our relationship, he wrote some notes about what I meant to him.  I still have them.  They tell me that he learned from me because of who I was.  These notes I cherish.  This is what I choose to remember about him.  This was worth figuring out how to balance who I am with who he needed me to be.

Not easy.  Not simple.  and Not over.

My middle daughter is now texting me she is sorry she is so hard on me.  I asked(through text) why is that?

She replied, “Because it isn’t necessarily what you need, the way I need it.”

I couldn’t reply with anything but, “Oh”

First of all because this is too important a conversation to be had over text messaging.  Too many ways what is typed can be mis-construed.

Second of all the thumbs would wear out before all that needs to be said, gets typed.

Third of all this type of conversation is best ended with a good long hug. Because I know, I’ve done this before, if it doesn’t end with the affirmation of love, I may just walk away and never look back.  And that’s the last thing I want to do.

I’m tired and I don’t know if I can go through not meeting someone’s high expectations again.