First Things First

10525916_781390441881524_13519433434744531_n[1]When life gets busy and crazy with a never-ending to-do list usually I tend to roll up my sleeves and get on the treadmill and keep going and going and going.  It takes a while for me to realize I have gone too far over the edge.   Yesterday, I thought about working out.  Hmmmm how long has it been?  Over a week…No wonder I am feeling lethargic and tense. Really, I know the fact is, the busier I am, the more I need to be aware of what it takes to keep me functioning – physically and emotionally.   Just like I need to set up routines in my life to make sure the dishes are done every day and people have food to eat, I must have some routines in place to keep me balanced and energized.   Everyone is different.  For me I need to do these things every day!! Continue reading “First Things First”

How was your weekend?? It depends on your perspective!

Fun time or stressful.  The choice is mine!
Fun time or stressful. The choice is mine!

It is so easy to look at the lives of others and think about how amazing they are, and then compare our family and life to this vision.  We see our own foibles and feel somehow like we fall short of the dream life and family.  The truth is there is no perfect life or family.  The reality is that life is a roller coaster.  We can however, choose our focus and the meanings we place on events.  Care for an example from my crazy weekend trip?

Continue reading “How was your weekend?? It depends on your perspective!”

Gratitude and the Stress of Life!

We have been in the midst of a crazy decision making time.  With the needs of a teen and MIL with dementia and how to adequately take care of everyone and their basic needs.    My tendency is to switch between denial (not thinking about it) and just making a quick decision and get it going.   Most of the time I am just stuck in the middle, weighing the pros and cons of each possibility.

The best way for me to push myself out of this frozen place, happens to be our habit of the month!  (convenient huh).  When life is feeling overwhelming and difficult allowing myself to go to a place of thankfulness is like an oasis in the desert.  I can create a safe environment for my heart, mind and spirit to  rest and renew.

Asking “What am I thankful for?”, totally changes my perspective on the problem.  I can be thankful for this wonderful, almost a man, child.  How we came through this high-risk pregnancy, preemie birth to discover things about my self, to learn and grow in ways I never did with the other kids.  Now, with just a few years left in my home, I can help him learn to stand-up for himself and get the help he needs for his learning differences.   I can be thankful for my MIL.  I am thankful for her in having the wonderful child who now loves me and supports me like no other.  I am thankful to model love and respect for the elderly when basic life care is unmanageable.

After a few minutes of gratitude, my heart is at rest.  The situation has not changed, but I am more confident in dealing with it.   We will find a solution benefiting us all.  Maybe not a perfect one, but one we can all embrace.

Today’s goal is bathing.  (The MIL, not the son- thankfully).  While the lack of hygiene, bothers us more than her, it must be done one way or another.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to not remember to bathe.   Gives me more compassion for the task at hand.  I just have to be loving and firm.  Today we are going to do this. Can I find a playlist for bathtime??  And maybe cinnamon rolls when we are finished.  🙂  Yes, in addition to thankfulness, I have to ask “How can make this fun” (see previous habits!)

“What are you thankful for today?”

THE LAST GREAT LESSON

English: Fortesque Bay, Sunrise, Tasman Penins...

Great post from Clay!  Thought I would share it here!!

 

The phases of life can be strange and difficult to understand. I have come to that realization by understanding that I am part of the sandwich generation. I Care for my teenage son who is still at home, while caring for an aging parent.

Last year I began to notice that my mom (now a widow five years) was starting to slip in memory. After a number of events we moved her up close to us from South Texas. After a visit to the doctor for testing we found she has level II dementia. She is still able to talk about her boyfriend in high school and growing up in the depression. But then the next few moments I have to repeat five times what we have just talked about in the now. That exercise can be very frustrating. As months have passed and things have worsened, she has begun to forget to walk the dog, bathe and at times can call me 20 plus times to ask about what we just discussed. I see the fear in her eyes as she realizes she doesn’t remember and there is soon an anxious attempt to please everyone around her (another symptom of dementia). It’s a hard place for her.

So now its time for another move, probably in with us, for more care. Once again I find myself being the emotional responsible parent. This is a  role I often filled when I was young, as she battled alcoholism. To be back here again is quite overwhelming and I have felt frustrated with her, the situation and with God as to why I am having to deal with this as now the only child.

Being a man of faith I am aware that God is up to something. Moreover, being a life coach I understand that focusing on my frustration will only get me more frustration. So I needed to change my focus. But what could I focus on?

Then I had a chance to hear Amy Grant (who I respect so much) talk about caring for her Dad who has dementia. She made I statement that just floored me. She said, “this is the last great lesson your parents will teach you”. WOW! Thanks Amy {{{Hugs}}}. What a thought. I’m not sure what the lesson is at present. But with a heart open to the tenderness of God I have decided to learn it.

With a 180 degree shift, I have found something to focus on in heart and God has led me to dealing with this in a different way.

First, be flexible, because there will be good days and bad days in dealing with this condition.

Second, live with heartfelt understanding. Pray and ask God to give you compassion and love. For me, this is a great need because mom and I have not always had the best relationship.

Third, laugh a lot. Laughter is the best medicine. It also helps remove the awkwardness from many moments and helps me not be so serious about everything.

Finally, sing a lot. Music is a mystery that can touch the core of our very being. One thing mom and I share has been music and singing. Whether singing an old hymn or one of the many songs she sang during her long  career as a jazz singer, music makes her spirit come alive. As this worsens I plan to keep singing with her even though she one day may not be able too.

There is still quite a journey ahead and no “happily ever after” on the horizon. But one thing is for sure. There is one more great lesson to learn. And, with God’s grace, I plan to learn it.

Sunrise through the clouds

Skating around the Circle of Life!

Yesterday was Titus/ Mimi Day!!  We haven’t had one in over a month and I had been missing him.    We went to visit  my Mother in Law and she so loved it.  She can’t remember who he is but knows he is special. Then, home where I had to remind my teenager to finish his English paper before attempting anything else.

Titus and his Great Gram!
Titus and his Great Gram!

Our lives are full of these moments of contrast.   It seems in relationships we have to constantly be adapting to different roles.  And within the role itself we must change as the years go by.   The role of mother to a baby is different than it is to a toddler, teenager or adult child.  The role of daughter as a child is vastly different than it is when caring for an aging parent with dementia.   Sometimes, I feel I have to adapt myself to meet these ever changing relationships and work to figure them out.   With plenty of time to ponder this, while playing in the sandbox, soaking up the sunshine and cuddles from the cutest grandson ever, I had an aha moment.   It is not really a change within me, that makes life much too complicated to feel I must constantly change (while of course I want to continue growing and learning also, it is a different feel than changing who I am, because a relationship needs to adapt.)

Then it hit me, Boundaries!!   This should not be a surprise, since I think boundaries are the most amazing freeing thing ever!! (Growing up as a youngest in a big family this idea took me years to implement, but once I got it, I really was able to live as if a huge weight had been removed from my shoulders.)

Maybe it is time to write another boundary explanation blog, but for today I will just say-  When you have a healthy boundary, you can separate your thoughts, ideas, feelings, acts, beliefs… from others thoughts etc.  In the  case of adapting relationships and roles I need to adapt how I respect others boundaries.   With a baby, whose existence totally depends on me, there really is little separation.  I do need to care for myself in order to remain sane and  healthy to meet all the needs this child has.   As a toddler, they are beginning independence, but with little experience and knowledge.  Yes, you can walk all you want on the sidewalk, but not in the street.  Do you want to wear the red pants or the green ones?   A teen is tricky, these almost adults who really think they are ready to run their lives.  I can release the boundary quite a bit, while showing there are consequences  for choices.  It is fine for you to blow off your homework, but there will be no workouts or video games until this grade is brought up.

The great thing about kids is we gradually can let go and with adult children, they are the  ones asking for advice and rather than controlling them, I can encourage their decisions and support them even if I do not agree.   I do tell myself someday they will be handling all my affairs and be changing my diapers at some point!   It is hard with elderly parents to be going the opposite direction.  Slowly taking more and more control as life circumstances dictate.   No, you cannot drive anymore.  This is where you must live.  I will take you to the store and you can choose what to buy, but I will handle all the money.   It seems so strange to treat another adult this way, especially knowing I will be taking more and more responsibility rather than less.   This is the circle of life and while not easy, it happens.

Through it all, I don’t have to change.  I can still be the same person, with my ideas, values and purpose.   I will always be loving, full of faith, and having fun in every relationship.   This simple rethinking helps me to relax and release the pressure and overwhelming feelings that come when  I am running around from one life event to another.     There is nothing better than a sunny day in a sandbox to bring clarity and new insights!

What are you looking forward to?

Lights

What do you look forward to?  Often, we look forward to vacations or the weekend.  We longingly look toward retirement or when the kids are grown and out of the house.  While long term accomplishments might motivate us they more often steal the joy and excitement from the present.  How would it be if you had something to look forward to every day?

I have added, “What can I be excited about tomorrow?”  to my evening questions. (The other one is, “What was great about today?”  But that is another blog).  The results have been amazing.   With the simple thought that one thing about tomorrow will be fun and exciting helps my brain produce happy chemicals as I sleep.  Upon waking this can continue in other areas of my life.  In addition, I am reinforcing to myself  there are things within my control.  Yes, many things are not in my control, but I can enjoy lighting my new apple scented candle tomorrow.  While it seems like a small thing it will inspire me to not be afraid of some harder things to take charge of in my life.   It is so easy to get in the habit of letting life happen and going through the motions rather than being the CEO of our own lives.

Last night I looked forward to writing  my blog today.  It was also predicted to be cool this morning, so I knew I would take an early morning walk and enjoy wearing a jacket and scarf!  When I woke up, it was with a sense of anticipation of both of these!  Yes, when this is a habit you will find it hard to limit yourself to only one thing.   Start small.   What can be exciting?   Wearing a new scarf, having coffee with a friend, trying a new recipe, working out to great music are a few ideas to get you started.    Try it out for 30 days and see what the results are for you. Let me know how it goes!!

What can you be excited about ???

Apple fruit
Have you tried a honey crisp apple? That is really something to look forward to!!

Rules we live by- 3

100_1190
100_1190 (Photo credit: ttarasiuk)

Welcome back.  Hopefully you have discovered some of the rules that dictate your actions and worked on adapting them and making some choices with them.   Often when we face a difficult decision making time it is because of these rules and having some that completely contradict each other.  Usually, we think we abide by one rule, but there is another that is hidden that keeps asserting itself in the process.    To find the hidden one it helps to ask,

” What do I have to believe in order to feel this way”.   If it is a conflict in your rules you can usually discover them both with the answer to this question.  Sometimes just recognising the conflicting rules will help.  Usually though it takes some wrestling with them and searching “which one will bring me closer to my purpose?”

It is easier to notice these conflicts in others, but harder in ourselves.  One example would be a work at home mom who says they feel quilty for not contributing to the family more.  I of course know she means contribute to the financial bottom line, but also this comes from on one side a rule that says providing a nurturing  environment for her kids is important however, there is another rule telling her she could be working for pay might be more helpful. On the other hand we have mom’s who work full time outside the home and feel quilty about it.   Understanding this is a very complicated issue in our world today and not oversimplifying it, but really acknowledging the conflicts and learning how to look at them honsestly and knowing how to  adapt the rules for the life we are wanting is life- changing.  Getting rid of the guilt or feeling “less than” is crucial for feeling successful in our lives.

For me, I have a need for independance as well as a strong need for connection.  This often leads to some conflicting rules.  I discovered my “I want to grow by challenging myself and being all I can be”  would conflict with “I want to be loved and share experiences”.  (Actually these two came after some soul searching and adjustments.  They were something like- “I don’t want to feel lonely and left out, so I can forget my goals and go for yours”and a “I don’t need anyone and can do it myself”- Yes these do sound like rules of a youngest child LOL)    Still I can make  these a little more workable with knowing they are not mutually exclusive-  ” Sometimes I can pursue my plans and desires on my own and other times pursing a goal with another can be fun too”.

Now it is your turn.  What frustrations or conflicts are you feeling and what possible rules  are feeding them.   Can you adjust and adapt them?    Would you be willing to share them here with others?

English: The path goes on

You are Stronger than you Think

English: Traunstein Mountain seen from Traunki...
Image via Wikipedia

There are times in our lives where we approach a goal beyond what we have reached before.   Times like birthing a child, running a race, or climbing a mountain summit cause us to reach deep down for a strength we never even knew was there and Wow! we pull it off.  I love the confidence that comes.  All the small fears and insecurities vanish and I feel I could do anything!

This past week I had the honor of being with my oldest in her journey of labor, delivery and unfolding the gift of being a mom.   While I was a support and encourager in this journey, it was her that had to do it!  To go beyond the fear and pain and focus on the goal.  Everything did not go as planned or as she had wanted it to be, however she kept going and achieved the goal and was holding her baby boy!   Then in the days following to make hard decisions on care and develop into this amazing woman-mother.   Just leaves me in awe and amazement to watch her.

In many ways this is the feeling I have with coaching and why I have such a passion to work with women to help them focus on dreams and goals and to go forward and achieve them!!  This experience has also motivated me to not be held back but to push forward in my goals.   I am excited to excel in being a great wife, mother, grandmother and coach.  Ok,it still sounds daunting and I’m  often not sure I can do it all, however I will just take each step and each moment as it comes – breath and press through.  That is how miracles happen and I discover this hidden strength!  Keep posted on how this unfolds or better yet I hope this encourages you to push forward on your unique goals for your life.