When we give of ourselves – whether it be through love, encouragement or understanding – it costs us nothing.
Yet, as with a candle that lights another, the light is multiplied with each new candle lit.
Now that’s a great return on investment.
From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
I took this photo last night from my friend’s back patio. Just looking at it again – even as a photo – makes me breathe easier.
Just as the setting of the sun helps birds all over the world to find their way, that same sunset can clear the way for what the new day holds for each of us.
When was the last time you watched the sunset?
I consider myself an extremely lucky person to have several true, genuine friends. To me, this makes me rich beyond any dollars and cents.
Here’s how you can spot a friend of mine:
They don’t expect anything in return for anything they do for me – ever.
They don’t keep score about anything related to money – ever.
They don’ t keep track of who called who last – ever.
They don’t brag or make themselves feel better by putting me down – ever.
They accept me for all my flaws (and I have plenty) and they don’t want to change me or teach me a lesson of any sort – ever.
If they are worried or concerned about me, they reach out – beyond texts and emails or “I’m here if you need me” niceties. They know when I might need to hear their voice, even if it’s just leaving a message with no expectation of a return call.
They are beautiful people at their core, and being with them makes me feel better about myself and the world around me.
For these friendships, I am truly grateful.
Friendships are the sprinkles on the cookie of life.
Got any friends like this?
I haven’t written any posts for more than a week. I’ve been a bit numb from the drain of the last weeks with Mom, or Little Red Riding Hood, as I like to call her on my blog. And I know you readers enjoy my more light-hearted posts. So I’ve been torn about writing about Little Red Riding Hood for the last month or so. But it’s part of my Life on Wry, so I’m sharing a post I wrote today for my other blog, Laughing at Alzheimer’s (because laughing doesn’t’ make my mascara run). So here we go.
Nursing Home selected. Check. (I’m tired … are you?)
The much anticipated intervention meeting with my Stepdad was successful. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy convincing a man that it’s best for his wife of 30-plus years to be in a nursing home because of the level of care she needs. But the hospice folks helped me get through this difficult conversation. It had to happen. I was losing too much sleep worried about them both.
We ended the meeting with him open to the idea and to hearing about my top choices after researching and touring area nursing homes that were a potential fit.
The next day when I came to help with Mom, I again explained to my Stepdad that I wasn’t trying to be pushy, but that I felt – for various reasons that I explained and probably over-explained – that it was the right thing to do for both of their safety and well being, as hard as it was to formulate those words. He knew I didn’t take this lightly and that I had been researching options for when the next shoe might drop (after our infection in December sent Mom into a tailspin of decline). He knew my heart was in the right place.
In true Goldilocks style, I have been researching and touring various nursing homes of various sizes with differing amenities and programs. Small, medium, big homes, ones with lots of programming and little programming, ones close to my house and close to my parents’ house, in the lower, medium and higher price ranges.
I participated in these tours almost robotically, as if for a work project for which I was designing a features and benefits grid in order to write a brochure about their differences. I only cried on the way home from the tours a couple of times. It was a completely surreal experience. I wanted to have my sister with me, but it wasn’t an option. She’s been gone for 13 years. This was a solo mission. And she was with me in spirit, I really think she was.
After I went through all of my notes and all of the brochures with my Stepdad he agreed. He said it sounded like I had a favorite and he liked my rationale. I gulped and told him how much pressure that was to be the one to pick and he calmed my nerves and reminded me how much effort I had put forth. Was he really on board? He would go see it with me later in the week (last week) and bring his checkbook for a deposit if it felt right.
Was I hearing him right? Was he really on board? Don’t get me wrong, this took much time and many “come to Jesus” conversations, as I like to call them, over the last couple of years, and more angst than I can even explain. But he knew I seemed more serious this last few months since Mom’s decline. And he knew, in his heart, it was time. But was I actually hearing him agree with me on this subject for which I dreaded the very thought of? Indeed.
I explained to him how one of the nursing homes just felt right to me and I could picture Mom there. How natural it even felt with the Executive Director who gave me the tour. She reminded me of someone dear from my hometown. So many things made it seem like the right place. I drove away dabbing tears and pulling myself together, knowing that it was the place my Mom should be.
I took my Stepdad a couple days later. It was clear to me that he had taken some time to think about this whole issue, and felt even more resolve that the stimulation and care she could receive was what would be best at this point in her decline. I was still in shock that this was really happening and that I had steered our ship to this point.
Tomorrow the ‘assessment team’ from the nursing home will assess her at my parents’ house. To determine her needs, and that the facility is a good fit. Now that we’ve come this far, I only hope it will all go smoothly. I know it’s going to be a rough ride, but surely it can’t be more rough than the last couple of years, right? I’m probably wrong about that aspect, but I still know in my heart it’s what is best.
I’ve already picked out a comforter and curtains for her little room. They have flowers and the colors of pink roses in them like she likes, or liked anyway. And I have a list ready of what all that I will furnish her room with, from photos and knick knacks to her wall calendar and hand lotion. My stomach is wrought with unease, and I wake each morning consumed with guilt and wishing my sister were here to tell me I’m doing the right thing.
We’ll see what tomorrow holds. I’m going to think positively. Besides, that’s what I tell everyone else to do all of the time.
But being a grown-up really does suck sometimes. And it makes me tired.
Wish me luck.
So, my sixteen year old son got his first speeding ticket.
Before you judge, know that he was reprimanded sufficiently and that he will be paying the fine. And that the ticket was reduced to a defective vehicle violation.
He also beat himself up about it more than sufficiently, as he was clearly upset and remorseful. Days later, as his remorse continued, I decided that the best way to make him feel better about the whole thing would be to begin recounting my litany of violations and mistakes with regard to automobiles when I was young. I was on a roll and my stories kept getting better and better.
As the words rushed out of my mouth at full speed, MacGyver looked at me puzzled, as if wondering why I thought this was a good idea. But I didn’t get the hint.
Then at some point, thank goodness, I realized that I needed to shut my mouth. But … as it is on many occasions … it was too late. I have only my lack of caffeine that morning to blame for this lapse in judgement. Duh.
Ever realized you needed to shut your mouth when it was too late?
Yes snow, you’re beautiful … and the way you fall quietly sometimes calms me like no other … but I’m over you.
These pics are from the last two days, then we got a reprieve most of yesterday, and now it has started again. And it’s coming down aplenty outside my window right now.
Meanwhile my friends elsewhere are posting wonderful pics of their beautiful Redbud trees and colorful flowers on Facebook which reminds me of how fresh and new Spring is going to feel. And even though I think I have really become a Colorado girl at heart, I’m ready to end this relationship, or at least take a break.
However … if this is my biggest problem today (which is sort of, kind of is … depending on how you look at it) … then I’m doing pretty good.
And you should urge me to do the same. Because sometimes I’m great at giving advice, but horrible at listening to it for myself.
This is something that I’m working on. And it’s a tough one for me.
When people disappoint me, I have to remind myself that:
a) it’s rarely ever personal and who knows what is going on in the other person’s life that I may not know about,
b) it does no good to waste my energy being disappointed,
c) negative thoughts just attract more negative energy,
d) it takes away from me being present and in the moment, and finally …
e) there is probably something I could learn from it.
So there you have it.
What disappointment or frustration are you going to let go of right now?
It was a usual exciting Saturday morning and I was upstairs folding laundry as I drank my coffee. Suddenly I heard a commotion so loud that I was sure that all of my kitchen cabinets had fallen from our kitchen walls.
Apparently I left the dishwasher door open while I was upstairs. And Monkey Dog was hungry.
Based on the evidence shown here in Exhibit A, I’m speculating that Monkey Dog decided to crawl into the dishwasher with the dirty dishes (I promise we do feed her). From there, all I can hypothesize (based on the aftermath) is that perhaps her collar became hooked on a rack which startled her, prompting her to jump back and create enough momentum to launch the wheeled dish rack across the kitchen?
As you can see, the lower dishwasher rack ended up several feet away from the dishwasher, at an angle no less.
Amazingly, only three plates were broken and I was able to repair the dishwasher rack, since the wheels literally came off. And Monkey Dog was unharmed.
Let the records show that Monkey Dog is not a Great Dane, but rather a “mini” Golden Doodle, weighing just 25 pounds. And, as I’ve written about before, she keeps her retractable, opposable thumbs hidden until we leave her in the kitchen alone. (Which is why we’ve decided it’s time to install a 24/7 Monkey Dog Kitchen Cam.)
Not surprisingly, she was afraid to go near the dishwasher for the rest of the day.
Can your dog unload the dishwasher that fast?
I knew once I started noticing the birds outside the window and doing a mental inventory of my art teacher’s studio that I had learned about as much painting technique as my limited attention span could handle. My instructor taught me how to paint with acrylics last spring (because it was on my 2012 bucket list). She was wonderful and made me realize that there is no such thing as a bad painting and you can always paint over anything you think is a ‘mistake.’
However I started to notice toward the end of our time together that my teacher closely followed her own set of painting rules. I’m not big on rules, and especially letting layers of paint dry which most artists do. So by the end of our time together I couldn’t help but think about how many paintings I could crank out in one third the time we were taking to do one in class. Clearly I’m not big on details and patience is far from a virtue of mine, so it was time to fly the coop. I now create paintings whenever I need a mental break or need to procrastinate.
As I paint sometimes I like to take progress photos. With this large, 4′ x 2′ painting, my goal was to create my own interpretation of another painting (see bottom pic and photos of the three phases of its life).
It may be because my head cold is making me delirious and more reflective than usual, but some life lessons which were at work as I did this painting have come to mind:
-In the beginning I had no idea how to start but threw some paint on the canvas and started anyway without over thinking it. (Over-analysis leads to paralysis. Just do it.)
-I had doubts during the first phase, but powered on. I could always reuse the canvas. (Gag the self-doubt gremlins and keep on keepin’ on.)
-I had to level-set my expectations for the final result (it was going to be my version of the other painting, it didn’t have to look just like the inspiration painting).
-I’m pretty sure I was 95 percent relaxed while I did this painting (even though I was most suredly procrastinating something else like touring nursing facilities for my mother). But for the most part, I set everything else aside once I got going. (I got out of my head and relaxed and breathed.)
-I could have easily said ‘I don’t have time’ to paint that day. (But I made time because I was feeling out of balance … whether I realized it on a conscious level or not.)
The end result is a cool painting that is somewhat similar to the inspiration piece but I actually like mine better.
And you know that theory about finding a creative outlet to relieve stress? It works.
In fact, the benefits of any kind of focused artistic creation (painting, collaging, gardening, photography, writing, you name it) are said to include distraction, flow (getting completely engaged in something to the point of almost meditating) and balance.
All of these things help you become more centered which really feels good. Pretty cool concept. I’m grateful that I’ve learned this.
What have you created lately?
I sat up in my seat as straight as I could, like there was an ironing board strapped to my back. I barely spoke a word as my friend tried to ease the tension with idle conversation. My eyes were peeled as wide open as I could get them and staring straight ahead as my hands gripped that steering wheel for life. The snow was blowing so hard that I could barely see the car in front of me as we traversed hair pin turn after hair pin turn. I knew I had to keep up with that white suburban in front of me because his tail lights were helping me see where the road was.
This treacherous trek was the result of my friend and I missing a turn during the four hour trip home from the horse clinic in the mountains a couple weeks ago (What I learned from Babe). We got to talking so much that once we realized that we missed the turn, we were far enough into the other route home that the gal at the convenience store said we should stay on course and probably end up saving time taking this route home from Steamboat anyway.
I knew this route home involved Berthoud Pass which terrifies me in snowy conditions and I usually let my husband drive it while I close my eyes and breathe deeply or look at my phone to distract myself until we get through it. I’m convinced the reason that mountain real estate is cheaper on the other side of Berthoud is because so many people like me dread this pass in the snow.
But it was bright, sunny and warm as I got back into the car after asking the store clerk. If I had known about the snow storm that would be hitting just as we climbed the pass – just over 30 minutes ahead – I would have turned my car around at the convenience store lickety-split and paid no mind to the time we would lose in doing so.
Needless to say, it was a white- knuckle drive all the way up and back down this pass that terrifies me (all 24 miles of it). Once we began our upward climb and the snow started to make it hard to see, there was no turning back. We were committed. All I could hear in my mind over and over was ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’ (This seems to be my latest life motto.)
And we did it. MacGyver gave me a huge high-five upon my return home because he knew what an accomplishment it was for me to get over my fears and JUST DO IT on that damn pass, and in a white-out no less. Now when I drive it this summer I won’t even think twice about being afraid of it. And that, my friends, ROCKS.
Once again — just as the trusty universe knows exactly when I need to take The Long Way Home — the universe knew that I needed to make that wrong turn. And for that I am grateful.
What’s the best wrong turn you’ve ever taken?
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