Let There Be Light
On this day in 1880, Thomas Edison (1847-1931) patented the first successful electric incandescent lamp, preceded by many others who tried. What outdistanced him from the others was that his was the first commercially practical incandescent light. “When Thomas Edison worked late into the night on the electric light, he had to do it by gas lamp or candle. I'm sure it made the work seem that much more urgent,” a prophetic perspective from George Carlin, (1937-2008) an actor, writer, and comedian, placing second to Richard Pryor on Comedy Central’s list of “Top 100 Comics of all Time.”
Witch - Begone! You have no power here!
In The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 sensational movie based on the book by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy Gale, a young girl from Kansas, hurled to Oz because of a terrible tornado, is now in Emerald City standing before the Great Wizard of Oz. He has ordered her to bring him the broomstick of the wicked witch so that he may perform his wizardry and take Dorothy safely back home, which has been her desire since landing in Oz. Dorothy, along with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion go to the witch’s dungenous castle. Realizing she is in danger, the witch proclaims, "Well, my little pretty, I can cause accidents too," and proceeds to light a match attempting to set the straw-filled Scarecrow on fire. Dorothy, at that instant, spies a bucket of water and throws the water to put out the fire, but the water also splashes on the witch who exclaims “I'm MELTING! I'm Melting!” Quick thinking by Dorothy saves the day, and as care partners, we must enhance our ability to think quickly to melt our witch away. Witch - Begone! You have no power here.
Yes, some days the witch does live here!
There are days when I wake up exhausted and the sun has barely risen. This feeling creeps in, and might I add, is most unwelcome. Is this going to be one of those bad witchy days? My father-in-law taught me that sometimes we need those bad days to help us appreciate the good ones. Great.
Yes, there are the bad days when the wicked witch does live here . . . and it doesn’t please me to admit this. With the non-ending feelings of being responsible, when my plate feels so full, when I feel lonely and just plain overwhelmed and exhausted from interrupted sleep, and ironically, because I care so deeply for my care receiver watching him struggling more each day, I become cranky (this is a euphuism – I become witchy). I’m happy to report that these feelings occur occasionally, and I know my self-care rituals help – self-care is life-care.
Cancer Survivors Parks: The Changing Landscape of Cancer
Cancer Survivors Parks include twenty-five parks in fourteen states, five in California alone, and two in Canada, one in Ontario and the other one in Ottawa. The first park was established in 1990 in Kansas City, Missouri. All the parks have a space for celebration, a space for learning, a space for healing, and a space for hope and all of them feature a walk with fourteen bronze plaques that inspire a positive mental attitude, eight life-sized bronze figures passing through a labyrinth symbolizing cancer treatment, and the “Road to Recovery” features seven plaques explaining what cancer is and what one can do to overcome the disease. Regardless of the diagnosis, this is a beautiful inspiring area for nurturing one’s soul.
How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? That good! Let’s see if we can fix that.
A tradition many of us hold dear to our hearts, is making New Year’s Resolutions. We start full of excitement and watch our goals slowly wither away. Why? We may be making them for the wrong reasons. If you are making a resolution because someone else suggested it, then it will most likely fail. Making resolutions is about specificity; if it is too vague, it will falter. If your resolution is as big as the sky, it may simply be out of your reach; this is about reality. However, the caveat is this: you will have setbacks and that’s normal but do not let one failure derail your plans. Get back on track and continue. To keep myself on track, I have built in rewards. For example, for every ten minutes I walk, I give myself an hour to pursue my passion, knitting. Of course, I can knit whenever I can find the time, but this little reward keeps me walking, and on some days, I might walk a few minutes longer knowing that I have a big knitting project to work on.
“Whoa! You’re doing what?”
With the start of a New Year a few days away, now is a good time to tease out several of those health and fitness myths and misconceptions. Throughout the years, suggestions have been made to eat this, do that, take this, participate in a designated exercise regimen, and you’ll be on your way to great health. Then, within a short time, it seems that the news pundits say, “Whoa! You’re doing what?” What is the “right” thing for us to do?
Happy Holidays - Enjoy the holidays because the other choice isn’t acceptable.
“It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” was written in 1963 and first crooned by Andy Williams. “Be of good cheer” the lyrics command; we’re trying our best, but between shopping, preparing meals, visiting, and caring for our care receiver, we may find ourselves feeling like curmudgeons. Maybe we need to adjust our expectations; easy to say, hard to do. The holidays trigger many emotions so try to focus on the actions that you can take to make things better. The holidays also bring up a host of memories and nostalgia that may no longer be possible now so plan something new, some meaningful time together by starting a new holiday tradition to look forward to. Speak these ideas aloud, write things down in a journal or talk these over with a listening companion, a trusted friend.
Asking for help could be construed with losing independence but that may not be true. Really?
A new journey, a new path to follow, but with planning, you won’t lose your way, you will survive and thrive. To thrive may mean hiring a home health aide so that you can enjoy personal respite care, but oh, the resistance to this idea can be monumental. First and foremost, having someone in the home may imply the loss of independence, losing control, and may be perceived as becoming a burden, which is #2 on the list of concerns - #1 is the need to enter a nursing home. My goal in hiring an “activity partner” (notice that I am not using home health care aide), was to lessen my stress when leaving my care receiver alone at home for a few hours. The need for care is relative; as we age, we are going to increase our needs for care. If we secure strategies for help at home before it becomes a crisis, we will be able to keep our care receiver at home for longer and dreaded #1 on the list may never be realized. Asking for help could be construed with losing independence but it really means staying independent for a much longer time. Check out https://www.planyourlifespan.org/ for more support.
Take Some. Leave Some. Love Some. Hate Some. Try Some.
- The best gift you can give anyone you love is that of being true to yourself and living your life to the fullest.
- Recognize that the holidays may be different this year.
- Decide which traditions you want to keep, change, or skip altogether.
- Be honest with yourself and others by sharing what you DO want to do and what you DON’T want to do. Try not to be overly controlling but setting limits is very helpful. Don’t cancel the holidays altogether but be kind to yourself by prioritizing the things you really want to enjoy.
Friday, December 13 – It has to get better.
My dear mother died on this day in 2000. On my walk I came across this sidewalk art, “It has to get better” needing no explanation but raises some questions – how do things get better? And what things do we want to improve?
Walk the Line
The year was 1932 in the state was Arkansas when a family of sharecroppers welcomed their son, John R. Cash into their family. This was in the middle of the Great Depression, but Johnny Cash’s hard-scrapple life taught him compassion and healing and he believed that healing was integral to humanity and being human. He wore “black” to honor the poor and hungry and those whose lives were challenged by drug use. Johnny Cash died in 2003 when he was seventy-three years old. Between his birth and death, he walked the line and left a wealth of music, mostly associated with country music.
Your sweater is beautiful and beautifully finished. “Thank you” was all she said.
The day began like most other days. I needed to go to the market; I have this thing about running out of milk and toilet paper. We all have something! While at the market, standing on one side of a tempting vegetable stand, I noticed a woman across from me wearing a drop-dead gorgeous sweater in a shade of turquoise that looked sensational on her. But what really attracted me was the way the sweater was finished. I knew it was handmade, but the finishing sent it off in another dimension. I complimented her and commented on what I observed. She thanked me, we carried on with our shopping, and I never saw her again.
We’ll stuff them! This is one of my favorite memories.
Tomorrow Begins the Holiday Season
Walking in a Sculpture Garden
Sitting in a waiting room, no matter how well we are prepared is very tiring, so I decided to take a walk around the campus of the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, while my husband was seeing his doctor. The abundance of art is everywhere, and I marveled at the beauty unfolding before my eyes. The time passed very quickly, and we both left the campus feeling energized and relieved!
Keeping Them Home
Once known as Armistice Day, today it is known as Veterans Day.
Armistice Day commemorates the peace agreement signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany when The Great War officially ended. This was to be the war to end all wars, but we know that wasn’t to be true. In honor of all veterans, the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1945. A clear distinction is made: Veterans Day “is not a day that 'belongs' to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans." To all of you who have served, we offer our heartfelt thanks. Your sacrifices made and continue the make a difference in our lives. Serving a loved one as a care partner also has a special day. Caregivers Day is the third Friday in February, but I didn’t want to wait until then to share Sean Hayes’ story.
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people’s hall,
The ballot-box, my throne!
–John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet (1807–1892)
Be Care Curious – What Does that Mean? November is National Family Caregivers Month
When I taught elementary school, we held child study team meetings, inviting all the stakeholders (professionals and family members) for every student who demonstrated a need for more interventive care, followed with an Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Periodically, as per the goals set in the IEP, meetings were scheduled to determine the efficacy of the program. As care partners, we may realize that more interventive care is needed, and all the stakeholders must be invited and informed.
Be Care Curious gathers all the stakeholders in the shared care of a loved one for a personal IEP – Individualized Empowerment Program. I made that up, but this shared approach is empowering for every stakeholder, just like the stakeholders who keep a tent habitable – you need all the stakes, or you might be sleeping under the stars!