I have been thinking a lot lately about worry. It is so easy for people to say: “Oh, don’t worry. Everything will be alright”. Easier said than done, right? Now, I am not going to make this post about my troubles. We all have our fair share. I have been very blessed in many ways. However, from time to time I find worries creeping into my daily living. Instead of focusing on what is going well, I focus on what is not. Or what I perceive to be “missing”. Jobs, money, health, achievement – how much is “enough?”
Recently, Molly graciously invited me to contribute to this wonderful blog. Thinking about living from a mindset of gratitude became my task for the past week or so. Each day I came up with a mental list of all the things for which I am grateful. The list was long, yet I still felt the old worries creeping in. Then, I looked out my back window onto the pond which I share with the other condominiums in our complex. It is a natural pond which is frequented by a number of different birds: ducks, geese, heron, and even an occasional pelican.
It has always been relaxing to me to watch wildlife, especially around a pond or lake. The birds don’t worry about what will happen tomorrow, or about what other birds have or don’t have. They just live in the moment. I was reminded of a book that I like by Dan Millman: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In it, a young college student is taught by a mentor to focus on and live in the moment. He learned how to be a human BEING, rather than a human DOING. By focusing on the here and now, perhaps my mind can clearly see the joy in each day – and that joy is something for which I am truly grateful.
...but, when He does, you just go with it using prayer, His strength and deep breaths (you, not God).
...and it happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
I'm still reeling but I'm sure it will all settle down soon.
Ah, heck, who am I kidding?
It won't settle down until my mother passes or gets to the point that she needs to return to a memory care facility.
But, it's okay. She's my mom.
Long story short, my mom has early stage dementia.
I have four amazing brothers and sisters who have each taken a part of her care together up until the time that I arrived about 2 weeks ago. My mom lived in Michigan. Kalamazoo, specifically. She was diagnosed in this psychiatric hospital for geriatrics (love that my mom was in a psych hospital. Special).
She was then moved to a memory care facility which was absolutely beautiful. Had her own suite - it was huge - and an amazing staff.
Don't get the wrong idea - all of that beauty and good care comes at a price.
You'd think if they were going to charge what they do, they'd lose the funeral drapes.
It was decided that she didn't need that much attention and after she had told three of my siblings that she wanted to live on the ranch with Jan and the puppies (we have four rescue dogs), I got the phone call.
What am I supposed to say??
I said "yes", of course.
According to her O.T., she functions at the age of a 3 year old and needs constant supervision.
So, I drove up, spent two weeks, helped pack up everything she owns that she wanted to move to Texas - enough to fill a moving van partway - loaded her, her dog and her walker, etc. into the car and took off for Texas.
We're home. She's settling in.
Keeps telling me she's taking a bus to Kalamazoo for Christmas.
My mother on a bus?
Glad she doesn't know what she's saying. She'd freak.
Here's a poem that I want you to read, especially if you are taking care of an early onset dementia patient.
You can also purchase a blank journal to track what you are grateful for. The toughest thing sometimes is figuring out what to write. On her website, "Living Life With Gratitude", Kirsti A. Dyer gives some examples of journal writing prompts:
Real life isn't always going to be perfect or go our way,
but the recurring acknowledgment
of what is working in our lives
can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties. -
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Take a moment to think and reflect before you start writing then consider the question:
"What is working in your life?"
Appreciation of life itself,
becoming suddenly aware of the miracle of being alive,
on this planet,
can turn what we call ordinary life into a miracle. -
After reading this quote, think about this question:
"What are some of the simple things in your life for which you are grateful?"
We can only be said to be alive
in those moments
when our hearts
are conscious of our treasures. -
Pause for a moment and reflect upon the question:
"What you have or who is in your life that you hold dear?"
Hopefully this will give you some ideas to get you started in your own Gratitude Journal.
Sometimes in life we have those moments that stop us in our tracks and bring us to our knees. Without going into too much detail we had a health issue with one of our boys. It had gone on for months. We finally got to the point he was referred to a neurologist – scary for anyone.
The day after his appointment he was sent for an MRI with and without contrast. It was a complete disaster – him not eating, the machinery, they immobilized his head – he was scared, tired and hungry. Then he had a reaction to the dye and we ended up in the emergency room. Up to this point I had no fears - no gut reaction to what had happened. I had no reason to think he wouldn't get better.
Until an ER doctor discharged us and leaned over me and said, “You should call your neurologist tomorrow, your son has a 5mm spot in his parietal lobe.”
I remember asking him what that meant – he said he couldn't tell me. I can tell you the hallway froze around us. The air was drawn from the room. My legs moved in slow motion. I am not sure how I made it to my husband who was waiting for us.
Nothing in life prepares you for this – nothing.
I will tell you we spent the worst night of our lives. Thoughts of our children, how our lives would be forever altered, how their lives would be altered, how our hearts would break.
Neither my husband nor I slept. Our gift came in the morning when we received a call from our pediatrician saying the ER doctor was mistaken our son had a NORMAL anomaly. I practically fainted from happiness!
I can only tell you to hug your children, tell those you love how much and pick up the phone and call that friend you haven’t spoken to – life changes in a breath.
Be grateful to feel the sun and rain, laugh and cry, because it is a gift to be alive every day.
I am grateful to be given the gift of another day and I say a prayer for those who weren't.