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Leave The Past Behind

leavethepastbehind

Sweet friends, it’s challenging when our parents get older and we begin to take care of them.  Sometimes the past relationships get in the way of our thinking and it gets harder to be patient and kind.  Few grown children don’t carry some reminders of injustice or hurts that they sometimes unwittingly carry into adulthood and that can spill over into the present day relationships with our parents.

I understand.

But dear friends, it’s time to let go of the past and focus on the present.  This can be a hard task to accomplish, but I have faith in you and I am willing to hold your hand while you walk this path.

Guilt, shame and frustrations build when we are tasked with parenting when we are still holding on to hurts from the past.  Also, parents can do the same so that the relationship can be hard to navigate, especially when you, their child, is now in charge.

Why can’t he/she be nice?  Can’t they see I’m trying to help?  Why do they act that way?  I’m tired of this!  This is not my responsibility because they did x, y or z to me when I was little, a teenager, an adult….this list of complaints can go on and on.

And yes, I agree that this is hard for you (and for them).  My heart goes out to you all as I’ve been there and I have felt similarly to some degree.  I get it.  So you may be asking, How the heck did I get into this place of peace?

I let go baby!  I rose above the hurts to a place of peace in my heart.  I did it for them and I did it for me.  I love them innately and I see them as human beings doing their best, just as I am.  I love from a place of understanding, of forgiveness and with peace in my heart.  I go into the day with prayer for patience to help me throughout the day and to help them.  I get out of my own head and try to see things from their perspective and then it dawns on me, how they’re feeling.  I come from a place of healing hearts and simply trying to make all of our lives happier.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.  So then, I ask for forgiveness, to myself and to them and to God and I just begin again.

When you don’t feel like you’ve succeeded or when it’s been a really hard day, let go of the bad and just hang onto the good.  Let the hard times fall away from your thinking and hold onto that kernel of goodness.  There is some goodness every day.  Sometimes you just have to search a bit to find the blessing, but it’s always there.

Allow the past to have no power over you.  Live solidly in the present and allow the future to take care of itself.  Be present with loved ones and find the joy in connecting with them.  Role model love, kindness, caring and joy.  Innately you are a healer so use your gifts wisely.  And if you need to throw up your hands in frustration, by all means, do it in privacy.  Give yourself a time out to recoup before exploding with negativity.

Remember, your parents/elderly loved ones aren’t necessarily trying to make it harder on you.  They are simply doing what they can at this time.  And even if you don’t believe that or you think I’m full of Pollyanna hooey, give them the benefit of the doubt and give it to yourself when it comes to doing your best.

We are all on this journey called Life.  Lessons come to us in many forms to deepen our understanding of love.  Because let’s face it, love is what this life is all about and sometimes love and forgiveness walk hand in hand.  It take a lot of love to be someone else’s lesson.  Perhaps that thought will give you peace in your heart.  Your parent loves you enough to teach you a life lesson, whatever the lesson my be.  Be grateful for their love and for the lesson.  Hold them closely.  Forgive and forget.  Heal yourself and others.  You are more than capable to choose the high road and now’s the time.

Don’t do it simply because I suggested it.  Do it for yourself.  Raising the love vibrations in this world helps us all.  And it starts with you, dear friend.  Shine your heartlight.  I believe in you.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

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When You Find Yourself Parenting Your Parents

whenyoufindyourselfparentingyourparents

I have a few friends who are now entering a new phase of adulthood which is when you are now charged with parenting your own parents or elderly family members.  It happens to many of us as we reach middle age.  My friends are just at the beginnings of that journey and I am glad to be here to help them and to help anyone else who needs it.  Because, I know how hard it is to watch the changes that occur as our parents get older.  Sometimes it starts sneakily and at others, it feels as if the drastic changes happen overnight.  But not matter how it happens, it’s hard for all involved.

The reversal of roles from child to parenting our parents can be a rocky road to navigate.  Some parents have a tough time relinquishing control to their children and fight the aging process with acute belligerence.  I can imagine how hard it is to realize even a little bit that we aren’t as ‘with it’ as we once were, that we get confused at times and that our children are telling us what to do when that was our job.  It’s a slippery slope to navigate as a child who now needs to parent our own parents.  We must be patient as the changes occur and be kind, even when our best intended and even wise suggestions are met with disapproval.

It’s hard to realize that our parents aren’t as healthy, mentally and physically as they once were and that we cannot rely upon them as children anymore.  It’s a tough realization, but very necessary.  There’s a mourning that comes with that realization for ourselves and our parents if they can realize it.  Bumps in the road are certain as this next phase begins.

Perhaps you’re realizing that your parents are weakening mentally and physically.  They aren’t as spry as they used to be and need help walking or doing their normal routines.  Perhaps you’re noticing that they are getting a bit confused at times or forgetting what they once readily knew.  Or perhaps they are slurring their words a bit or not able to remember to pay the bills on time or to take out the garbage or to eat routinely.

Please, come from a place of love and kindness as you navigate this new phase.  Be helpful and try to keep your frustrations outwardly to a minimum.  Hold your parents closer than you may have in the past and give them love.  Let them know you are there to be helpful and not to take over entirely (unless it’s now truly needed).  Find ways in which to help them as these beginning stages unfold.  Keep a keen eye on things as it progresses and be aware that subtle changes can grow quickly into full on tragedy if not monitored.

I am not trying to scare you, but I need to warn you.  I have seen it happen.  Trauma can exacerbate the the changes more quickly and speed up the need to get more help for your parents.

You may even see personality changes occur as they decline mentally and physically.  Agitation is common as their frustration levels increase (and yours do too).  It’s normal, so please take care of yourself and them with kindness and patience in your heart, mind and actions.

I’m here if you need a friend.  I’ve been on this path for quite a long time with several family members.  It’s not easy, but when you understand that you are not alone on this journey, it helps to ease the pain.  Being supported by someone who’s been there helps and I would like to give back in honor of those who helped me through the journey, so I’m here for you.

Shine On!

xo

 

I Just Can’t Remember

Ijustcantremember

I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook page today.  What a poignant reminder!

With Alzheimer’s, people don’t forget how much they love you or how much you mean to them.  Sometimes it’s just that they don’t remember the specifics.  When I try to put myself in the mind of someone with memory loss, this is how I imagine I would feel.

To spend quality time with someone who loves you is a precious gift.  No matter who you believe they are, you are at peace feeling the love and comfort that you have with them.

Alzheimer’s is a great reminder to find The Presents of Presence in every moment.  Many times, those with memory loss live in the present moment and as long as we stay in the happy flow, all is well.  It’s when we dip into the past or sadness that things become a bit complicated.  I think it’s a choice to live in the present and to enjoy that priceless moment of being with someone we love and sharing that time together.

It’s an important lesson I’ve learned through being involved with those in memory care facilities.  With memory loss, life is stripped down to the bare minimum – health, food, clothing, shelter, love, kindness, dignity, caring, honesty, gratitude and blessings are what count.  Designer goods, class distinctions, holding grudges and all that vibrates at lower frequencies isn’t important.

What matters is love, plain and simple.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

 

 

Via FB post from a friend.

 

The Gift In Ordinary Moments

thegiftinordinarymoments

The other day, I shared that a friend’s Mama recently passed.  Although we hadn’t known each other for more than a few years, what we packed into those few years was a lifetime of friendship.  You know, when you bond instantly and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.  It just happens effortlessly?

I can’t seem to stop the tears when I think about the good times we had and I just realized why…Because I am grateful for the ordinary moments we shared that ended up being extraordinary.  Let me repeat that…

Ordinary moments we shared, ended up being extraordinary

There’s a preciousness to ordinary life that we forget in our haste to be special.  There’s a gift in being present without fanfare, the gift of just sitting around talking or sharing a meal that when we look back, it wasn’t special, it wasn’t a hoopla holiday.  It was the ordinary mealtime, but because we were all together, it was special.

Am I making sense?

It’s the simple things, the ordinary meals that are like home to us.  The caring, the camaraderie, the joy in just being together in the routine setting makes for a precious memory.  We don’t need the hoopla all the time.  Yes, hoopla holidays are special.  I have no doubts about that!  But the preciousness of being outweighs them in my book.

Perhaps I’m feeling melancholy today, noticing the simple pleasures that surround us in everyday life that we sometimes overlook.  Being in that moment of presence is just so important.  Don’t you think?

Shine On!

xo

 

 

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

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Being in a memory care facility, like the one that my family members were in Savannah, is like being with family.  Residents all sit at the meal tables with the same group and become, over time, a soul family.  A family of people who aren’t related by blood nor marriage, but are family all the same in the best sense – the sense of belonging together, sharing meals, supporting each other and caring with kindness that goes beyond, goes deeper than simple connections.

One might say that in a memory care facility, residents don’t always recognize other people nor interact, but we were truly blessed.  Not only did the residents bond with each other, sharing stories (sometimes repeatedly – it was always a joy to hear them), but the families of the residents bonded in ways that we couldn’t have foreseen.

What binds us together is a love connection – the innate understanding that we get it – we know how it feels to have a loved one living in a memory care facility and all that goes along with it and we’re grateful for the unexpected friendships that accompany our experiences.

So when I got the phone message that my friend’s Mama passed away the other morning, the tears burst out of my eyes and I began to cry while listening to her message.  My phone volume had been turned down and because it was in the bottom of my purse, I missed her call.  Immediately I called her back, but she didn’t pick up.  I tried not to weep too much, but I left her a message telling her how sad I was to hear the news.

You see, her Mama and my loved ones were best friends, having lived in the same home for two years.  Every meal, they ate together, shared stories and smiled.  They bonded in the most beautiful way.  I am getting weepy remembering how in the last few years of their lives, these strangers shared a bond, connected and loved one another as if they were family.  I could regale you with so many stories of special moments we shared together.  My friend and I took special care of each other’s loved ones when we were visiting them.  It was truly a blessing.  I pray that someday when I’m older, if I should go to a home, that I find such loving residents (and caregivers) to call my soul family.  That’s how strongly I feel and why I am so sad about her Mama’s passing for it is the end of a chapter in our lives.

Her Mama is at peace now for which we are all grateful.  But there’s that part of me, the one that wants one more hug, one more smile from Wilma and one more story.  I want to see her needlepoint again and hear her laugh.  I know for sure, that she is up there in Heaven, happy to be reunited with her family, her husband and my loved one again.  I know I now have another special angel looking out for me from Heaven and I am ever grateful that we connected so long ago.   Rest in Peace Miss Wilma.  God Bless.

Shine On!

xo

Sundowners and Alzheimer’s Disease

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One of the challenges with having a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is sundowners.  Sundowners is a symptom of Alzheimer’s and Dementia whereby your loved one becomes more confused mentally towards the end of the day (hence the name).  There are wide variations of sundowners including utter confusion, wandering, aggression, shadowing (meaning they follow you around), repeatedly asking questions that they do not remember that they’ve asked and rapid mood changes which can range from crying (depression) to fear to stubbornness to restlessness and even to rocking back and forth in an effort to self-soothe.  Not all of the symptoms of sundowners occur every night, nor are they the same for every person.  I’ve written about it before here in case you are interested.

My Aunt suffered from sundowners which was hard on her and on her caregivers.  It always seemed to increase in intensity when the moon was full, when we changed to/from daylight savings time and when the seasons changed.  I think there’s more to outside forces than we may think!

My Mom has occasional bouts of sundowners as well, but confusion is her main symptom.  We were having a conversation recently after 6pm which was lovely when suddenly, her knowledge base fell completely out of her head.  We had been discussing my children, her grandchildren, whom she knew by name, by age and was interactively talking about them when suddenly she interrupted me,

I have to ask you.  Do you have children?

Yes, Mom.  I have children.  You have grandchildren!

Oh my, I didn’t know you were old enough to have children.  How many do you have?  Do they live with you?

I have to say that years ago, I would have been utterly distraught to hear her ask me that question right in the middle of talking about my children when she was fully cognizant of their presence, knowing who they are and having seen them recently.  But I have learned that Alzheimer’s is sneaky and can interrupt a loved one’s knowledge base in a split second, rendering them unaware.  So I simply continued the conversation with her, telling her about my children and reminding her gently of their names.

Suddenly, it was like she was back in her mind and she began reminiscing about them with memories of their childhood that she knew.  We laughed together and enjoyed the connection.  This went on for a bit when suddenly the blip happened again and we had to begin all over.  Then at one point, she was thinking that I was her sister and was asking me if I remembered certain things about her childhood.  But all along the conversation, one part was perfectly clear – my Mom loves me, trusts me and knows my name for which I am ever grateful!  That is the piece of peace that stays with me long after confusing conversations and even throughout them.  My Mom loves me and knows how much I love her – what more can you ask for?

I have to remind myself that it’s just part of the disease.  As I’ve written before, when we stay calm, we can flow with whatever comes up.  It’s taken me a long time to get to this place of peace and acceptance.  I had to get the belief that this isn’t how it should be out of my head and simply accept and be with what is.

I keep her sense of calm foremost in my head.  I keep conversations light and happy.  I do answer her questions with truth when she asks, if I think that they will not hurt her.  But as you have seen, Swinging With Mom sometimes we have to repeat the truth which is hard.  It takes patience, love and a sense of humor to love everyone and Mom is here to remind me to strengthen the bonds of love and acceptance for all who are in my life.  Thank you Mommy!

Shine On!

xo

 

Swinging With Mom

swingingwith mom

There are times in life when we question whether the truth should be revealed or if we should leave well enough alone.  Having a parent with Alzheimer’s, I hop on the porch swing with Mom daily.  Growing up in the South, her childhood home had a porch swing which we all remember fondly.  Due to her disease though, I never know where we are on the porch swing when we come together to enjoy an afternoon.  Sometimes we are in the past, sometimes we are in the present and sometimes reality gets muddied.  It changes sometimes very quickly so I am never sure where she is at any given moment.

Mom is a happy and healthy otherwise.  When she is in the moment, a great Present of Presence, we talk about the day and enjoy a chocolate milkshake because everything is happier with ice cream.  We laugh and joke and nothing makes me feel better than to hear her laugh.  I will say outrageous things to her just to see if she’s actually listening to me or if she is taking her cues from reading my expression.  I will ask her to recount  funny stories from her past, sometimes initializing stories I have heard hundreds of times before, just to hear her tell them to me again and to share a laugh.

Her sister passed away earlier this year and because they lived in the same home, it was hard on Mom.  With Alzheimer’s, they stay calm in the moment when something doesn’t trigger a memory and believe me, I try to stay in the moment with her often.  But when I went to visit the other day, chocolate milkshakes in hand as per our tradition, after a few moments, she told me how sad she was that her sister Mable had passed away.  I wrote about it here.  She told me how she missed her and how she was sad that she hadn’t attended her funeral.  I assured her that she had and that she had been with her whole family, seen her childhood home and reminisced over countless photos surrounded by her loving extended family.  She listened carefully and calmly told me she didn’t remember any of it, but that she was grateful that she had been there.

Then she began to talk about my Dad who passed away years ago.  She was angry that he hadn’t been talking with her and she didn’t know where he was.  She was embroiled in the hurt and anger that she felt because he wasn’t here with her.  I debated for quite awhile as she told her side of the story and how if he wasn’t talking with her, then she would not reach out to him (mind you, she didn’t know how to get in touch with him).  I took her hand in mine, looked into her eyes and spoke the words I dreaded saying again.

Mom, I am sorry to tell you this, but Daddy passed away.

What?  He’s dead?  Tears began to well up in her eyes and I immediately felt so badly.  We have had this conversation countless times since he passed away and it hurt me to tell her and have her hurt again.  But in my heart, I didn’t want her to feel that he had abandoned her by not being here.

Yes, Mommy.  He passed away a few years ago.

Oh, I didn’t know.  Oh my, where is he buried?  Did I go to the funeral?

As I began to answer her questions, it soothed her to know that she had indeed been there, that his funeral was greatly attended and then I threw in a few giggles that only our family could at a time like this – because I couldn’t stand seeing her so upset.  I soothed her sadness with love and light and hugged her, trying to heal her hurting heart.

I guess I”m losing my mind here.  I just don’t remember anymore.

It’s ok.  It happens to the best of us Mom.

It’s better sometimes to allow the grief to fade and to concentrate on today, on our milk shakes and our happy times.

So, I snuggled up to her, like only a daughter can, on her bed, by her side, holding her as if she were my daughter and reversed the roles.  She held on tightly in my embrace and my heart overflowed with sadness and yet, with gratitude for this one precious moment.

Moms comfort their children throughout their lives.  That’s what we do.  But sometimes, there comes a time when the roles reverse and we are our Mother’s Mother.  We comfort and soothe in the maternal way we learned through our Moms.

I wish she didn’t have this disease for it has robbed her of her memory.  But I am also truly grateful that she remains in there, loving us with all her might and knowing who we are.  Sometimes we just know that these moments are precious and are to be treasured.  Isn’t that what life’s about?  Stringing together those precious pearls of connection?  And swinging on a porch swing, sipping a chocolate milkshake and enjoying the calm in a Southern hospitality way?

Shine On!

xo