Still Here…But Barely

StillHere

Still Here…But Barely…

I’ve been dealing with a few relatives who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia lately and it’s been pretty hard ~ for them and for me.  It’s amazing to me how quickly this disease can rob our loved ones of their basic mental capacity let alone complex thinking.  But what remains, at least for the ones I’m taking care of, is love.

They know I love them and I know they love me.  So far, we are blessed that each recognizes family members even though they don’t quite know all the details.  Most information seems new to them at times and yet at others, they are quite cognizant of what has occurred recently in their lives (which has been another relative who passed away).

Childhood memories fill their conversations along with much giggling of good times shared for which I am eternally grateful.  Stories are repeated, almost to the letter in a conversation, but the giggle at the end remains the same.  It is the giggling that I relish when they retell their stories.  It is the frustration that I continue to keep at bay as much as possible, dredging up as much patience as I possibly can to answer repeated questions in a simple way in hopes that they can keep the information for a bit longer this time.

But I what I loved the most after spending time with them and getting 2 sisters together for a few days was the love and laughter that they shared even though both are affected by those diseases.  Precious moments were spent watching them as they interacted, finishing each other’s stories and slowly winding down memory lane together arm in arm, heart to heart, sister to sister.

It was tough though I will admit.  Tough to watch, knowing that they may not recognize each other the next time they meet.  Wondering how much longer they will know who I am or remember how many blissful hours they spent over the last few days together.  I watched as I wondered how much longer they will be here, both in mind and body.  Sadly, I thought about them and myself and the loss that is coming.  I lamented in my own mind how much life has changed for them ~ the vibrant women I once knew to now.

Simpler times for sure growing up in a small town in the South.  Watching them banter back and forth, giggling like school girls at times, recalling fun memories and sharing stories.  We kept away from the sad as much as possible as I redirected many a conversation which teetered on the verge of today’s truth.  Light, sweet and joyful was the theme of the conversations as much as possible.  When we began gravitating towards sad truths, I redirected as much as I could with honesty, trying to save their minds from what I know in my heart, they understand ~ that a loved one has passed.

It’s heartbreaking to bear witness to how the mind can completely make and break connections.  One minute, you think they are understanding and the next minute, you realize that they haven’t a clue of what we just talked about and they don’t recognize where they are or who they are seeing (other than me thank goodness).  So far, when I say it’s me, they know me.

What I am grateful for is the hugs, the kisses on the cheek, the love that we share as I watch them begin to descend into the abyss of oblivion.  I want to hold tightly to the memories of my last trip, praying that when I return, there will still be enough there for them to recognize each other and me so that we can share more joy, laughter and love.

But I don’t know quite honestly if my wish can be fulfilled.  So I will be grateful for the memories we shared, for the present moments that we have and for the gratitude that I was able to be there for them both and with them both for as long as I could.

It’s not easy to be a caregiver of family whose brains cease to function as they did.  It’s not easy to witness what is scary for them and for me as reality changes so abruptly.  It’s a big responsibility and I don’t think most of us are prepared for it.  Tears flowed freely as did the occasional giggle when their conversations made me laugh.  I am grateful for those things as well, for life is all about the laughter and the tears, don’t you think?  That and staying present, being grateful and just loving what is right now, this minute.

Shine On!

xo

In the Middle of Every Difficulty

opportunity1

“In the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity.”
~ Albert Einstein

It’s been a long few months for me.  I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility which isn’t mine to bear, but someone had to do it.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has certainly been a great opportunity for me to learn about myself.  I have learned that I can do more than I thought I could.  I have learned that I have infinite inner strength.  I have learned, I need to rely on myself.  I have learned to not take things at face value.  I have had my rose-colored glasses lifted.  I have learned to ask for help and feel gratitude when receiving it.  I have learned to let go and to allow people to do whatever they wish and not try to make it better for them.  I have learned to give myself permission let go of what I can’t control and not try to be responsible for everyone else ~ just for myself.  I have learned that I need to take off the blinders which had previously blinded me to the role that I had been given as a child and believed was my destiny.  With situations that aren’t of my doing, I have let go of the outcome and simply tried to do my best with the situation.  I continue to try to be a good person, but I am human.  I make mistakes, but those have lead me to grow in ways I couldn’t possibly have grown without the difficulties I’ve endured.

I have learned to allow others to be themselves, to act as they wish without judgement.  I have wrestled with the inability of some to help themselves, but I am learning to be with it.  I offer help, but I do not force change even when I believe that seeing a situation in a different light would be beneficial.  In short, I’ve stopped trying to do everything for everyone else and help God.  I am responsible for me.  I am responsible for my children.  I am responsible for being the best person I can be, to be helpful when needed and to remember that I can’t save others from themselves.

Big lesson for me, let me tell you.  For I was always a ‘fixer’ as my familial role given to me as a child.  Be the peace-maker.  Be the good one.  Be the responsible one ~ not that the others in my life didn’t have those traits because they did.  It was just I felt that my assigned role seemed to encumber all that and more.

But I am growing up and learning that nothing is set in stone.  That roles may change and that change can be good.  Change forces us to expand out of our comfort zones and to grow in ways that prior to now, we never even dreamed were possible.  It comes at a price for sure, but the payoff is peace within which for me, is priceless.

I am my brother’s helper but not his keeper.  Decisions that others have made in their lives are their decisions.  The decisions I’ve made in my life, are my own now.  The past role is not longer mine to own.  My responsibility rests in doing the best I can each and every day of my life and to be able to put my head on my pillow at night peacefully, knowing that I tried and hopefully I succeeded.  To help others, but to not hold onto the guilt when they choose whatever their choice is and to not judge their decisions.  It’s a handful of lessons that spill over into many forms in my life.

I hold peace within and pray for peace for others, no matter how battered their psyche.  I own the responsibility for my own actions, but not for the actions of others, nor do I try to change them.  I simply find peace within no matter the chaos around me.  I try not to engage in the swirling mindless chatter of those who aren’t well.  I limit my engagements with them, so to protect myself and my own heart.

I am a work in progress.  I am not perfect.  I will fall and get back up again and again.  I will be myself, wear my heart proudly knowing that as I love, I am loved.  I look to the positivity in my life.  I look up to the Heavens for support, guidance and the ability to find peace.  I look within myself, in the nooks and crannies of my heart for forgiveness of others and of myself.  I am learning to be free of the shackles which bound me and freedom in this moment, feels delicious.

Have the sweetest day, dear friends.

Shine On!

xo

Attention on the Now

tolle

“Focus your attention on the Now and tell

me what problem you have at this moment.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

There are times when we feel overwhelmed by all that is going on within us and around us.  Relationships, finances, health issues and our own minds can clog with problems and we feel like we have problems with everything.  Maybe we do, but in this very moment, the quote above from Tolle reminds us to breathe and to concentrate on ‘what problem you have at this moment.’  In this very instant, be grateful for all that we have.

So let’s be grateful for what we share.  Be grateful for the world such as it is ~ the beauty of Mother Nature, the sweet melody of the animals, the fact that in this very moment, we are here to enjoy our lives.  Be present.  Be open.  Be grateful for all the little, sometimes subtle blessings in your life.

Perhaps your relationships are stormy, be present, carve out a moment for yourself to enjoy the peace within you.  Perhaps your health is an issue, be grateful for your breath, focus on breathing, feel your body and cells ignite with positivity.  Your body is a well-organized machine that your mind runs.  Clear your mind, think good thoughts and your body responds.  Perhaps your finances are giving you trouble.  Then bless your bills, be grateful for shelter, and the comforts of home that you have now in this moment.  You have infinite power to change.

Now, in this moment, you are here, you are blessed.  You are perfect, whole and complete.  In this very instance you have all you need in order to succeed.  You have yourself.  You can overcome any obstacles in your path.  You have no problems that you cannot surmount.  Once you make up your mind that you have no problems in this very moment, it becomes clear that we can eliminate the sadness, the hurt, the anger and the problems and move on to peace.

Use this moment to find the peace within you.  Surround yourself with a loving embrace.

Smile.  All is well, moment to moment.

Shine On!

xo

Spring Has Sprung!

spring

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. ~Doug Larson

Having battled another snowstorm last week, it doesn’t feel like springtime.  And yet, because of daylight savings time, it does feel warmer, sunnier, more spring-like with dusk arriving later than we were used to which is such a treat!  In fact, I didn’t even shovel as the sunlight has been doing a great job of melting all the snow ~ thanks Mother Nature!

So, Happy Spring Y’All!

Shine On!

xo

Love Lasts

ownnothing

 Understand that you own nothing, everything that surrounds you is temporary, only the love in your heart will last forever.

~ Leon Brown

Having been through a recent death in the family and the subsequent cleaning out of a house, I’ve learned first hand how the above quote resonates in life.  For once you pass, none of the physical items you’ve accumulated mean anything to you anymore for you are beyond and not needing them.  What is left in this physical world is the reminder of a life well-lived, items to be shared and returned and treasured along with the memories of a loved one who has passed.

What remains though, most importantly, are the memories of your loved one, the love that you shared, the connection that was forged over time and strengthened through moments of kindness, love and friendship.  The love that will last forever is the legacy of a life.

It is the impact of your life on others’ lives that remains ~ whatever it may be, however you chose to live, to connect and to be in your own loving heart.  I think that may be the question that is given to you at the Pearly Gates.  How did you spend your life?  Was it helping others?  Was it sharing your love?  Was it in finding the good, being optimistic and being kind?  Did you try to do your best?

It is hard, even knowing a life was well-lived.  To say goodbye is not easy.  To dismantle a home once filled with love and happy memories makes me feel bereft at times.  Perhaps I am too sensitive.  Perhaps too much on my plate.  Perhaps I feel empathy and sympathy deeper than most.  Perhaps…just perhaps.

Happy Monday!

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

 

What Counts

WhatCounts“Count your age by friends, not years.

Count your life by smiles, not tears.”

~ John Lennon

I love my birthday week ~ the birthday eve, the birthday itself and then following days which I find blissful.  I have always loved my birthday and I can only say that it’s become more precious to me as the years pass.  Probably because I continue to be so grateful that I am still here after all I’ve endured.  I find the dawn most pleasant for the new day ~ the optimism which embraces me as I rise to greet the morning.  I love dusk as well, for as I prepare to lay my head on the pillow, I hold most sacred that I have tried to be a good person (and if I haven’t, then I ask forgiveness).

I have been blessed with an abundance of birthday greetings which nestle into my heart to hold for the coming year.  Knowing that I have had so many sweet people take a moment out of their busy lives to say hello and wish me well has swollen my heart and soul with so much love!  My heartfelt thanks to all of you! ♥

I love the above quote which I got via email from Contagious Optimism today.  How perfect for me to share today!  I begin my mornings by reading a few positive emails from different places and this is one of my favorites!  You can sign up to receive a quick inspirational quote every morning from them.  Make sure you take a moment to check them out!  Just a little tidbit of positivity for you!

May you find peace within today and always.  May your lives be filled with love and joy.  May you feel blessed, for you truly are.  Thanks for connecting with me.  You are simply the best!

Shine On!

xo

You Are Simply the Best!

best

“The more you praise and celebrate your life,

the more there is in life to celebrate.”

- Oprah Winfrey

This is my birthday week celebration and I want to share it with you ~ let’s celebrate, for we have today ~ let’s embrace The Presents of Presence as we feel gratitude for this day, for this moment in time that we share together.  Come join me in celebrating our lives, our connections and our friendships!  Let’s be grateful that we can enjoy this moment together!

I am grateful for so much in my life, even the hardships that I have endured.  I am grateful for the happy and sad moments for they have taught me well.  I am grateful for the strength that I have found within and the supportive friends and family who have helped me through many trying times.  I am grateful to God for every breath that I continue to have and for the blessed life that I have lived thus far and I pray that I have many more years of life given to me.  I am grateful for the willingness of myself and others to reach out daily through blogging, texting, phone calls, cards and emails etc. in order to support, love and connect with each other in order to increase the love in this world through kindness.  I am grateful for every prayer.  I am grateful for the angels who surround me and for meeting human angels along my path of life.  I am grateful for my feline friends as well who give unconditional loving fur therapy when most needed (and even when not needed).  There’s something about being loved by an animal which is precious as well.  I am grateful for my mind, soul, heart and body which have endured breast cancer etc. and continue to thrive daily, even under unspeakable circumstances.  I am grateful to Mother Nature for daily delivering such a beautiful dawn which inspires me, even when I feel under the weather.  I am grateful as I count all of the blessings, big and small, in my life.

So today, please celebrate with me ~ celebrate your life, yourself and your connections with others both big and small.  Celebrate your life well-lived and your present moment.  Choose to feel the tranquility of gratitude, the quiet reminder that you are here~ perfect, whole and complete and you are appreciated for who you are.

For I am grateful to all of you!

Shine On!

xo