Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Who owns the fire hydrant?..............................

I have begun to taper my running in preparation for my six mile race this Saturday, (Besides the pasta dinner and the new shirt, tapering is my favorite part of racing!) so I took the dogs for a walk last night to stretch my legs a little bit.

As we came to the corner at the end of our street, Emma did her usual sniff sniff squat at the fire hydrant before I could stop her........... Right on the newly planted coneflower! (See above photo) Granted, the fire hydrant is technically located on the planters property, but everybody knows it is a dog's duty to lift his leg on (or for her to sqaut next to) the fire hydrant. Sorta of simular to the right of passage of being able to get your drivers license at sixteen, or being able to vote at eighteen. Maybe one doesn't participate, but one has the right if the desire is there. I will even admit to promting my dogs to explore the hydrant (pre-plants of course!) telling them it was their doggy duty, and they owed it to the other dogs to enhance their sniffing experience when they too made their duty bound stop at the hydrant.

So, now my quandary............ How do I teach them to leave this particular hydrant alone, but allow them to continue to enjoy the one at the other end of the walk? Trust me, I have tried to explain that plants DO NOT thrive on drinking urine when they have tried initiating all the plants in my back yard, and they either don't get it, or choose to ignore me. (Most likely it is both.) I also feel bad about yanking them away from this particular hydrant when it has been a prominate stop since their very first walk.

Then I think about how I would feel if every dog that passed my yard watered my flowers, and away I yank. Before the current owners purchased the house it was quite run down, and I do appreciate their efforts to improve it. The overgrown bushes are history, replaced with a nice aray of green plants next to the house. The grass is mowed on a regular basis now, and this is a good thing. Once upon a time, when they were finished at the hydrant, the dogs used to play a quick game of hide-n-seek in the tall grass, and I always worried about what they would flush out of hiding besides each other. Still, I can't get my mind around what beautification the current owners had in mind when they dug out the surrounding grass and planted the flowers. (Do you think it improved the look? Maybe, if they had added a nice mulch, it might have been a different story.)

Potentially, years from now, it might even become a safety hazard as coneflowers have a tendancy to mass produce and grow tall. What happens if one of the houses on the street catch on fire and the fire department can't locate the hydrant among the plants? Maybe the dogs that continue to lift/squat on this particular hydrant ( Not my little well-behaved cuties of course, but there are bound to be others.) will earn a comindation for keeping the flowers from thriving and saving a home and/or a life by keeping the hydrant visible and flower free. Now that would be something worth blogging about!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

All is well in Patty land.....................................

It has been a couple of days since I have published a post. Time flys when your having fun I guess.

Saturday was devoted to my pre-trail race run. I did eighteen miles, in three different times. I was pretty tired, but proud of my accomplishments. Sunday, I don't even remember what ate up all my time, but the day flew by. Monday, I slept in until nine o'clock. Something so unheard of for me, that (my) Mister told me he was formulating in his head how he was going to tell my kids that I had died! Of course, coming in to check on me might have been the simple thing to do, (Unless, that is, he woke me up......... I am a VERY light sleeper) but not necessarily the safest thing. (Refer to previous parenthesis.) I ran three miles (In the heat, because I didn't get up early as planned, and then got the veggy plants for the garden. In the afternoon, I took (my) Mister out for a walk/run to kick off our (virtual) run around the Grand Canyon, two hundred ten miles. Considering "running is not his thing" (his words, not mine) he did really great and made me proud. He is working really hard to get in shape so he doesn't re-injure his back, and I really appreciate his efforts.

This morning, as I was sitting down to blog, I received a phone call from my sister. She is out of the hospital and doing well........ Very chatty. Currently we are having a booming thunderstorm and both dogs are continually vieing for my armpits each time it thunders. I feel bad for them, but it makes it kind of hard to type. I hope the storm passes quickly. So now you are up to date on my VERY UN-exciting life........ (Just the way I like it. I am sooooo over the drama/chaos life!)

Tomorrow we are getting a new resident, so that will keep me hopping until we get a routine down. It is good to be busy and needed. (Though right now I wish there was someone else here to pawn the dogs off on, they are being too needy at the moment.) Maybe later today things will settle down and I will be able to publish a more interesting post. One can always hope!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Customer service............... I think NOT!

Today is a selfish post. Please listen to my saga and let me know if you can help.

If you have been reading, you know I am in the middle of a front-yard make-over. I may have told you how we ran out of the rubber mulch and needed to order more. When I placed the order ( for what I hope is the last of what we will need) with the local company Menards I was told I would have to pay for the order up front, even though it would be seven to ten days until the mulch came into the store. I can't say I was thrilled with the idea that they would have my money before I had their product, but I had to play by their rules, so pay I did.

Fast forward to May twenty-third. I had not heard about my mulch, so I ask (my) Mister to call and see if it had arrived. Sure enough, it was in and waiting for me to pick it up. When I went into the store (Menards)to sign the paperwork for the order I ask the person helping me to see when the order had arrived. He looked it up and told me it had come in three days prior. When I ask why I had not been notified, his response was "Well some people are good about calling, and some are not so good." I let it go for the moment, but it continued to bother me so I contacted the manager of the store. I explained to him that the fact that I was not called when my order had arrived at his store was, in my opinion, poor customer service. I then ask him to explain to me why I had not been notified, and his reply was, "I cannot speak to that." What I thought was "If the manager of the store can't speak to this, then who could?" What I said was,"Well please get me someone that can." He responded, "I run this store." My response, "Well you must have a boss, so how do I get in touch with him?" His reply, "Try" and then he hung up the phone. WOW! Not being one to take things lying down, I got on the web site and found a phone number to what I gathered was the corporate offices. Of course they were closed the first time I called. The next morning, I called again and at first got no answer. (Not even a machine.) The next time a very pleasant voice assured me it would be her pleasure to connect me with guest services. Okay! I was finally getting somewhere............ A MACHINE answered and told me I would have to put my complaints in writing either by mail or on the internet. Let me tell you, I was getting a little miffed at this point.

Not to be defeated, I went to the form online, and expressed my displeasure at the way I was being treated. I requested that someone, (anyone) "a real live human being" call me and listen to my complaint. I went on to express my belief that if they valued my business (I had just spent close to two thousand dollars. Maybe this is only a drop in the bucket to them, but it is a lot of money to me.) and wanted me to continue to do business with them, they would have a real live human being contact me by phone so that I could express the displeasure at the way I had been treated.

Within hours I RECEIVED A _____ E-MAIL telling me that they handled their complaints in writing. It ended "please advise." I advised them alright, I informed then that if their company could not provide a real live human being to talk with me, then I would no longer do business with their store. In addition to this, I would tell as many people as I could about the (in my opinion) poor customer service I had been subjected to so that they too might decide not to do furthur business with their company. I ended the e-mail with the plea, "CALL ME RAY!" (The signature on the e-mail.)

Why am I sharing this with you? First, because I said I would. Second, so that you might think twice about doing business with the company. Us little guys are being put in a position more and more in which we have little say in how we are treated, and I think this is just plain wrong. Lastly, I put the link to the company in the post, just on the off chance you would like to jot off a little e-mail asking Ray to call Patty (Trust me! He has my number!) Maybe overloading their system will not make any difference, but maybe, just maybe, hearing from a number of people might make them sit up and take notice that none of us are happy about the treatment we get when we have a problem. What did I want from them? I simply wanted my concerns to be listened to. The first manager should have done this, but chose not to. Maybe he made his decision based on his knowledge that I would not be able to reach another person to share his behavior with. Maybe losing my business won't hurt them, but collectively loosing many people's business might make them sit up and take notice. What do you think?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Get to the point Patty...........................

I have been ask what the point of the training was. Why the need to talk to death. First a little about the Twilight Brigade - Compassion In Action (C.I.A.). Their mission is to educate and mobilize (get them out there) trained volunteers to provide a loving presence for those approaching death, thereby ensuring that no one need die alone. (From their brochure.)

The training follows the guidlines set forth by the Medicare and National Hospice and Palliative (comfort) Care Organizations. Graduates go into homes, hospitals, and hospices anywhere the dying need support, caring, and compassion. (From brochure.)

People are taught how to provide comfort, how to touch, how to support, and how to listen. What makes the experience unique, however, are the exercises designed to invite each trainee to confront and resolve personal fears about death and dying. The effect is profound and often transoformative. (From the brochure.)

The sole purpose as the Twilight Brigade is to provide comfort, reassurance, and a loving presence during the dying process. As volunteers we create an atmosphere of respect and reverence for people as they make their transition from this life. (From the brochure.)

Now in my words.............. I believe this training would be beneficial to any and all people stuggling to come to terms with any aspect of death and dying. I even uncovered a fear or two that I didn't know I had. When ask what our biggest fear about dying was, none came to mind. I had already done that work. (I thought.) As I sat quietly, in that safe invironment, I realized that I still had a fear about what my dying process would do to my family. If I died in an unexpected fashion, the shock and trauma of that would be hard on them. If I have a long lingering transition, I am fearfull that they will feel obligated to put their lives on hold and become burnt out from caring for me. Now that I have identified this, we can talk about it openingly and honestly. This is just one thing I have gained from the training. It is a fact, all of us are going to be faced with death in our lifetime. Whether you take the training to become a volunteer, or to prepare to help yourself or a loved one there is great value to be had in the process. Remember the link to their web site is on my blog, so you can check them out further if you so desire.

For those of you with further questions, send them my way and I will do my best to help you find your answers.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My chat with death............................

One of the activities we did during the training was a visualization exercise in which we were invited to have a conversation with death. Please don't get so caught up in the actual possibility of doing so that you miss the message. For me, this falls into one of those placebo effect things. Did I REALLY talk to death? Not at all important to what I took away from the exercise. If you are uncomfortable with the whole concept, feel free to close this post now. (Or at any time you become uncomfortable.) If you remain curious, read on to see what death had to say to me during our time together.

We began the activity with the instructions to draw a picture of death, have a conversation with death, and write a letter to someone that has died. Once we had the instructions, we were lead through a visualization to go to a safe place. Once there, we were invited to initiate a conversation with death. Following are some highlights from my chat:

My first question for death, was to ask him (mmmmm death is male?) how he deals with the fact that (most) everyone is afraid of him? DEATH LAUGHED AT ME! (Even in this setting I couldn't help but be a caretaker!) Then he told me not to worry about him, that he did what he did out of love.

My next question was to ask him how I could help him? He told me that I had become a huge help to him by dealing with my fears about death, because this has cleared the way for me to help others deal with their fears.

Next I ask him what it ws like for people the moment they surrender their fear and are ready to pass on? He responded: Bliss! Each person gets to that moment on their own in their own time, and I (we) need to honor that choice and be sure I/we are not putting my/our needs onto them. For example, some people want to have their last breath without others in the room, and a person could sit vigil for hours/days, only to have the love one slip away while they left to go to the bathroom. If this happens I/we can know this was their choice rather than beat ourselves up over the fact that we were not there at the exact moment.

By now, I was feeling pretty comfortable with the conversation, and so Iask him why people have different looks at the moment of death. He told me it had to do with people's varying levels of comfort, different levels of burdens that they are carrying around with them at the time of death. Also has to do with how "in control" they feel regarding their personal death experience, and to continue to work towards giving everyone the ability to control their experience. (I took this to mean spread the work of hospice. Yes! People will continue to die quick deaths, but when one can have a say, nurture there ability to do so.)

How? Be present, be in your heart. Listen to your heart and be open to the possibility and the rest will take care of itself.

You mean "on a need to know basis?" Exactly!

I hope you heard what I heard from this "conversation." This is not just about death, but also about life. (Isn't death just another part of life?) All of these things can be utilized in our day to day relationships. If we deal with our own junk, we will be more able to be present for others when they need us. We need to honor everyone's right to make choices that may be different than our own. We need to honor the things that another person is carrying around with them, and understand that these things are going to color their behavior. We need to be present in the moment when interacting with others, instead of thinking about what we are going to say back, or how many things we are not getting done by spending time with that person. Most importantly we don't always have to have the answers. If we show up, if we listen without any hidden agendgas, if we create a space of loving peace, the person will come to the answers on their own. Powerful, powerful stuff don't ya think?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Side-stepping death for now................................

I have (at least) one more thing I want to share about the weekend, but I want to put it aside because my gut is telling me to share about a couple of other people. Since the last time I ignored it I almost ran out of gas, I figured I had better listen, even though I don't understand why I am suppose to share.

The phone rang the other day, and it was one of the marketing people that come out and visit me on a regular basis to assure that if I need home care services for a resident I will pick her company. She is a very sweet person. For this story, you also need to know that she is also in good physical shape. She began by apologizing for not having been out as of late. Seems she had been in the hospital dealing with some serious medical issues concerning her lungs. She continued to tell me that it began with her being out of breath when going up the stairs, or getting more and more winded while she was running. As we all do, she ignored it thinking it was seasonal alergies or something else that would clear up on it's own. When she FINALLY gave in and went to the hospital emergancy, she was told had she waited a few more hours, she would not be with us today.

The night before last, the phone rang and it was my brother calling to tell me that my sister had had a heart attack. (She is fifty-four years old.) I instantly got angry (Remember anger is just a cover for fear, but my fear spilled out in anger.) (About) a month ago, she called me (I guess I should tell you they both live several states away from me.) because she was really "sick with the flu." I had her discribe the symptoms to me, and I tried to convince her I thought she could be having a heart attack. (Sorry for the interuption, but our oldest brother dropped dead from a massage heart attack at age fifty-two, and she also has other risk factors.) I tried to tell her that warning signs are different for women than men, and most women don't have the typical sign we all know; the radiating pain down the left arm. I tried to get her to hang up and call 911, but her fear got her angry at me. I finally convinced her to let me at least call her son and have him come and check on her and she agreed to this. She ended up feeling better in a day or two and never ended up going to see anyone about the symptoms. (And yes, she was still talking to me, even though she said I worried her son for nothing.)

The symptoms of her heart attack were EXACTLY the same as she had prior, (Discribed as a BAD case of the flu.) only this time she said she was also cold and clammy. She said she had very little pain. Of course, in spite of feeling ill, she still went to her job as a teacher. They made her go home, and yet she waited and waited, finally driving herself to the doctor twelve hours after having the first symptom. (This part is funny, I think) The doctor comes into her room and says "I don't want to worry you, but I have an ambulance waiting outside to take you to the hospital. You are having a heart attack. My sister's response. "Well, how much is that going to cost me? I am trying to make double car payments each month." (Yup! Were related!)

Why my anger/fear? Because had my sister listened to her body (and/or me..... The first words out her mouth to my brother were "Patty is going to say I told you so.") and been checked out for heart trouble, she might have been spared the pain and heart damage she suffered two days ago. I am not ready to loose my sister. I am especially not ready to loose her when it can be prevented, and can freely admit the idea terrifies me.

A while back, my yoga instructor shared a really great quote with me. I finally remembered to ask her who the author was, so I could share the quote, and give credit to the author. She sent it to me, and I accidentally deleted the e-mail, so I still can't give credit to the author. (Sorry!) Here is the quote:

"If we don't take care of our bodies, where will we live?"

Pretty powerful stuff if one listens to what the quote is saying.

As I said in the beginnning, I am not sure why the insistance was all given to me to share with you. If there is one person reading this that keeps pushing back that nagging feeling "that something is wrong," please listen to it. Not be scared or worried about it, just listen and then do what you are led to do. Maybe you are meant to act on it so you will meet a really great person that will change your world for the better. Maybe you will meet someone that needs your help. Maybe ______________. (You fill in the blank.)

As a whole, women tend to be care takers of everyone but themselves. Another thing that was stressed at the training was the fact that if we don't take care of ourselves, we are not going to be good to anyone else. Instead of listening, we often put things off saying "I'll just do this, and then I will take time for me." Problem is, the just doing this usually ends up being one more thing, and one more thing, and....................

So.............. It is out there, do with the information what you need to do, and if I can help in any way, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Training day........... A Sequel...........

I promised to share about my experiences with the Compassion In Action training, and I want to because I want you all to know how beneficial and helpful it was. The experience was SO SPECIAL, that there is a part of me that also wants to keep it all to myself. Our trainer, who I will call Jim-Bob, often made reference to sacred space/sacred moments, and that is exactly what this training was/is to me. Watching people open their box of pain and share it with others is indeed sacred, and will be respected as such. Still, there are many things I can tell you about the training, that will show it's value and make you want to experience it whether you want to work with Hospic people or just gain some insite into your own personal feelings regarding death and dying.

My tale begins with the big meeting of "You know who you are." Remember, we had never actually met, and had only shared one e-mail. After checking into my room, I thought I would call her room and let her know I was "in the building." Problem............. I only knew her first name. I called (my) Mister (Again I have to say "WHAT DID I DO BEFORE CELL PHONES?") and came up with a last initial through her e-mail address. The fact that she has an uncommon first name helped, and I was able to call the front desk and find out her room number. I called her, and we agreed to meet in the lobby before heading to the first session.

Don't ask me why, but as I headed down the elevator to the lobby, I felt like one does as they are about to meet a blind date. Will they like me? Will I like them? Will we get along? Will I be sorry I agreed to do this?What will that first instant be like? I am pleased to tell you that it was all good. We had an instant connection as we shared a "hello hug," and felt like we had know each other for years. Throughout the weekend, we learned that we have many things in common, and share many of the same values. Now that I know her, I am giving her a new blog name. From now on, "You know who you are" will be refered to as "Heart." For many reasons, but mostly because heart sums up the essence of her being.

Heart and I headed to class, and as we walked in I noticed two things. All of the chairs were arranged in a circle (pretty nomal for a class of this type) and there were boxes of kleenex located next to every other chair. (Pretty abnormal, but gave me a glimmer of where we were heading.) As we began, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had met Jim-Bob somewhere before. (It was probably a soul connection I was picking up, because by the end of the weekend, I was feeling it from most everyone in the room.) I had forgotten how comforting and wonderful it was to be together with like minded people, and as we set the ground rules for the weekend, I knew this was going to be great.

The first activity we engaged in was a listening,"getting to know you" in pairs of two. I partnered up with "Shoes," (explaination of her name to come at a later date.) and again, it was one of those "meant to be meetings." Once we had shared with one another, Jim-Bob explained that we were now going to introduce our partners using the information we had learned. This was really great, because there was none of that worry about "What am I going to tell people about myself" stuff that one always goes through. By the time the exercise was finished, the ice had been broken, and we were on our way to becoming a close knit group.

A big part of the weekend was about making sure to take care of yourself. We all logically know that one cannot take care of another if they first do not take care of themselves, but we also know that in the real world this is also the first thing that we forget to do. The environment was set up so first and formost we took care of ourselves, and then so we remembered to take care of each other. Activities were structured to be private and personal, and sharing the outcome of the activity was totally optional. To wrap up today's post, I would like to share my feelings about one of the activities we did.

First we were handed twenty cards. Then Jim-Bob ask us to write down different things, like name four people that are important to you, four items, etc... Once this was done, he began to read us a story about a guy that had been sick for some time, and began to get sicker. At certain points in the story, Jim-Bob would stop and have us pick one of our cards to loose, representing the losses that the guy in the story was experiencing. Of course it was easy at first, and I had no trouble giving up my material items. Then he came to a part of the story in which the character felt like he had no control over things, and Jim-Bob told us to let our neighbor pick two cards for us to loose, as a way to experience the sense of having no control over what was happening to us. After our neighbor picked them, we could look and see what we had lost. I don't even remember what the first card I lost was, because when I looked at the second card, I experienced an actual phyical pain in my heart. According to card number two, I had just lost my youngest child! I can't tell you how well this brought to life what a dying person must feel like as they loose more and more as a result of their illness. Powerful stuff! When I shared the experience with (my) Mister the next morning, I still teared up when I told him about loosing my youngest.

I have a few more things I would like to share about the weekend, but enough for today. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the weeds are growing, all for my enjoyment. I'd best get out there and enjoy it all, while the day is still young.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Training day...............The flip side.............................

The Compassion in Action training was a wonderful amazing experience. It was also a very nurturing "take care of me" weekend, and I am feeling relaxed and refreshed this morning. This is good!

As far as the information I learned, and details of the class, I need to sit with things for a day or two before I share them. For today, I thought you might enjoy hearing the details of my trip to the conference.

I learned that it doesn't really do much good to print out directions if you don't plan on reading them. Why would I need to read them before I was well on my way? I knew where I was headed for the first hundred miles or so.......... At least I thought I knew. When I decided to check out where I was heading next, I discovered that I was already lost. At least as far as the directions where concerned. No big deal....... I simply told myself that I wasn't lost, I was just on an adventure. After going out of my way a bit, I got back on track just slightly before exiting a toll road. After paying the toll, I checked my directions with the attendant. She told me, "Oh it's much easier if you just____________." Okay! I can do easy..................... I should have done directions. Easy took me straight to construction......... DO NOT PASS gas station! Of course I didn't listen, because I was an entire bar away from empty. Plenty of time to get gas at the next stop. Or so I thought. Out of nowhere, Chicago jumped out at me. Totally torn up, all I could see was pile after pile of concrete surrounding the plethera of orange barrels. And WHAT WAS THAT IN FRONT OF ME? Could it really be the skyline of Chicago? NO! YES! NO! YES!..................... OH! GREAT! By this time, not only was I wishing I had gotten gas, but I had been in the truck for awhile, and I had to go, if you catch my drift. I decided I would get off, get gas, and check my directions. Let me tell you, for being that close to Chicago, there really wasn't anything around. (Except a bunch of industrial parks.) I finally came across a truck stop, (Tom's Truck Stop to be exact) no gas, but they had to have a bathroom right? As I was going in, I noticed the typical sign stating the rest room was for customers only. Eating at truck stops, isn't my thing, and besides I figured they just had the sign posted, but it wouldn't apply to me. (Don't we all think that rules are for everyone but us?) I went in, and told the waitress that I would like to use the rest room and check my directions. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "I can't let you do that." Now there wasn't a mirror in front of me, but the look on my face had to have been priceless. Sort of like what a trapped animal might look like. Bladder was filled to overflow, and there was no way she was going to cooperate much longer. The waitress went on to explain that not five minutes prior to my arrival, a pipe had burst and they couldn 't use any water. (Patty's luck strikes again!) Thinking fast on my feet, I ask her if she had a cup I could use, and she was happy to accommodate me, giving me the largest styrofoam cup she had. Cup in hand, bladder and I headed to the bathroom. Being well versed in surrendering specimens, (NO! I have not had to be drug tested, I am just old and have had many a yearly physical.) I had no problems with having to aim into the cup, but without the backup of the toilet, my sense of panic returned as I began to reach the top. Let's just say, "EVERYTHING came out okay, and I was only slightly embarressed when I had to take the cup outside to dump it in the grass. (Thank goodness there was a tiny strip of grass between the road and all the other surrounding concrete!)

The waitress was very nice and understanding, and between her and the cook, I left much "relieved" and with another set of 'easy' directions. When starting out the trip, I knew I would be going near Chicago, but had I been in the passenger's seat, I am sure I could have reached out and touched a sky scraper or two. Had I seen a gas station, not only would I have reached out and touched it, I would most likely have kissed it! But nope, nada, not a one in sight. I called (my) Mister, and ask him how many miles I could go once the needle was on the second red mark, and he told me not more than fifteen miles. What he couldn't tell me was how this number was affected by traffic jams. I was traveling at between five and ten miles an hour. If I was good at math, I might have been able to figure out the adjusted number, but since I am not, I just kept trying to convince myself I was on a great adventure, having the time of my life.

The cook that gave me directions, told me it would take me about twenty minutes to get to the next road I needed to take. An hour and twenty minutes later, I had given up on the idea of ever getting to the other side of the city, and was trying to caculate how long I could survive with the amount of food and water I had with me. I began talking to my angels in earnest, asking them for a sign. (I didn't care if it were literal or mysical......... I just wanted some gas and grass to magically apprear before me.) Immediately after asking for the sign, I looked up and this is what I saw........................................


After reading the sign, I had an immediate vision of my truck abandoned on the side of the road
and me walking arms out stretched, eyes towards the heavens praying to come across a gas station before I became a grease spot on the side of the road. I jumped right to bargining with God to spare me, because my family would never be able to find the spot to put up a memorial to me,and even if they did, it would soon be torn down to make way for the constuction.

By the grace of God, forty minutes later the truck was still inching forward, and I finally found my gas and grass. I might have kissed the attendant taking the money if he wasn't safetly installed behind a wall of plastic.

Not to long after getting gas, I came to my exit, and the rest of "Patty's big adventure" came to a close. All in all, it took me about three hours to travel two hundred and fifteen miles, and three hours to travel the fifteen miles through Chicago. No amount of culture and big city living could convince me to willingly move into that type of traffic style. I complain when it takes me two cycles (maybe five minutes) to get through the one traffic light in my small town. My hat is off to all those folks that deal with that mess on a daily basis, but all I can say is "Better you than me!"

Friday, May 19, 2006

Training day..........................
I will be leaving for my Hospice training is a few hours, just as soon as I run in the rain (AGAIN!) and pack. I have to say, I must be growing, because the old me would have been packed at least a week ago. It occured to me yesterday that I probably should start thinking about packing, finding directions, etc... Not looking forward to the drive (Small town girl HITS big city better not end up as a literal headline.) It's not that I am a bad driver, (No comments from those that know me please!) it's just that six lane bumper to bumper traffic is not my idea of a good time. Not to mention a minimum of four hours in a car. (My) bladder has been doing holding exercises all week long to prepare, because she knows that I am one of those drivers that doesn't like to stop until I have arrived at my destination. Once (am I am totally blaming this on another of those looser guys from my past) I even managed to relieve myself while driving rather than stop. (Don't ask! I was following him and knew he wouldn't be happy if I signaled him to pull over again.) TMI................
For your entertainment while I am away, I have another Dili story for you. When I began writing it, I didn't know the timing of (the posting of) the story would work out to parallel current life events, but, life works that way sometimes doesn't it? Enjoy!
The sister

“If that phone rings one more time, I’m swear I’m go…..” Dili’s thought was cut off by the shrill ring of the phone. Gritting her teeth, she pushed the talk button, and forced herself to say hello in a normal conversational voice. Blessing upon blessing, it was a wrong number, and Dili thankfully hung up the phone and again tried to collect her thoughts.

What a struggle the last two weeks had been, and yet Dili would have given anything if she could have that time back. Unfortunately, turning back the clock would not cure her sister of the cancer that was draining the life out of her. Who could know for sure when the cancer began, or how far back in time one would have to go, to totally rid her sister of the growing disease. Wishing would never make it so, and standing here feeling sorry for herself would not get her to-do list done either.

Always feeling more in control when busy with a task, Dili had been more than happy to take charge of planning a hurry up wedding for her brother who lived several states away. It was her sister’s dying wish to see their brother married, and no matter what, Dili was going to make this wish come true. The church had been reserved, flowers purchased, tuxes rented. All of their friends were putting together a thanksgiving feast for the reception. They would be having Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks early, but everyone needed something to occupy their hands and minds; as well as helping them avoid thinking about the inevitability of the cancer claiming it’s next victim.

Victim! What a passive picture that conjured up. Nothing to be done. This went totally against Dili’s nature. It seemed she was always fighting for one thing or another. Her mind drifted back to several weeks ago, when she went up to the hospital to visit her sister during one of her chemo treatments. As Dili sat knitting, her sister began crying. When prompted to share her grief, Dili’s sister began lamenting “Why me? I have always tried to be good. Always followed the law, never smoked, or did drugs.” Without missing a beat, Dili responded, “Well you’re not dead yet; there’s still time to do all of those things. If you want to get high, I’ll find you some drugs.” Dili had been attempting to shock her sister out of sinking into a pity party, and it worked. Her sister got so pissed at Dili’s words that she kicked her out of her hospital room. Okay! Maybe it wasn’t the right way to go about it, but it got the desired results. The following day, when Dili arrived to visit, they both pretended that the conversation had never taken place. Though nothing was said, her sister became a bit more accepting of her fate after that conversation, and Dili was glad she had treated her sister as she normally would, rather than as sickly invalid.

Since she had learned of her sister’s illness, Dili had thought a lot about how she would want to be treated if it were her with a death sentence hanging over her head. She had decided that the worst thing anyone could do would be to treat her differently then they would have if she were not sick. Dili had little use for people that acted fake. And yet wasn’t that exactly what she was doing? Acting strong, and brave, and okay, when others were around, and then totally falling apart when alone. For the past twenty years, since their mother had died, her sister had filled in as a surrogate mom. Dili couldn’t begin to get her mind around how she was suppose to go through life without her sister, and yet that was exactly what she was facing. Like it or not.

The day of the wedding dawned cold but clear. Dili’s sister was hanging on, but her blood pressure was so low, it was clear the fight was almost over. Dili held her sister’s hand and wondered to herself how best to minister to her. “Would you like me to shave your legs for the wedding?” she ask? Just as Dili was thinking she must be too weak to answer, she noticed a single tear slipping down her sister's cheek, and she responded in a whisper, “How did you know?” Dili hasn’t known, not really, but she would be forever grateful that the idea had occurred to her, and that she had acted upon it. Even though she could not shave her legs herself, having smooth hairless legs would help her sister feel more like her old self, feminine, and well groomed for the special event she was about to attend. Dili was thrilled to be able to give this gift to her sister, who had always done so much for her over the years. As she was shaving her legs, Dili ask her sister to send her a sign when she had made it safely to heaven. As her sister nodded her head “okay,“ Dili felt a sense of acceptance and peace pass over her, and she knew that they would somehow both be fine.

The wedding came off without a hitch, and though her sister appeared to be sleeping most of the day, during the vows she was alert and participated when Dili’s brother brought her a rose. After the dinner, her brother headed off for his honeymoon, Dili spent a few quiet moments with her sister, and then headed to her own home. Later that evening, Dili’s sister carried out the ending of her life in a way perfect for her. She had not wanted to die at home, but she also had not wanted to die in the hospital. Dili’s sister died in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital. It was her fortieth birthday.

Three days later, on a cold gray November day, Dili stood with the rest of her family to lay her sister’s body to rest. As the minister began to read a line in a poem that began “Let the sunshine dry the tears of those that grieve for me,” the sun burst forth from behind a cloud to shine warm and bright on Dili and her family. With great confidence Dili knew that this was the sign her sister had promised her. She knew her sister was safe and happy in heaven; free of earthly pain and cares. This gave Dili a wonderful sense of peace and comfort, as she smiled back at the sun.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

She's growing up soooooo fast......................

Last night, I called my youngest in to help me do something. As she was coming down the hall towards me, I heard her muttering something to the effect of "Well I guess having a temper tantrum didn't do me any good." As she came into the room I ask her what she had said, and she sheepishly replied, "You weren't suppose to hear that." She helped me with the task, and I couldn't help but feel a little sad that she was coming to understand what divides adults from children. When we grow up............................. Temper tantrums loose their effect!

We have all witnessed the perfect two-year-old temper tantrum haven't we? It is much more enjoyable if it is someone else's two-year-old, rather than your own. When these melt downs happen in a public place, most people think things like, "That poor mom." Or, "Why can't that woman control her kid?" What is usually going through my mind is more like, "I'm right there with ya kid! Enjoy it while you can, because before you know it, you're going to have to hide your feelings just like the rest of us." You're telling me you have NEVER been so tired and frustrated at something that you haven't wanted just to throw your self on the floor and kick and scream until somebody listens to your needs? Right.

In our old fashioned movie theater, they have what they call a "cry room" upstairs where people with small kids can go, still see the movie, but not be heard by the rest of the audience. Maybe more public places should devote some space to cry rooms for those of us that need to blow off a little steam. Imagine...... There would be an attendant who would watch your shopping cart for you, while you went in. Inside you would find newspapers, magazines, and phone books, that you could tear to your hearts content. (The various thickness's would be a requirement to cover all levels of rage....... Another attendant would be inside, passing these out, based on your facial expressions. You. I think you will be fine after ripping up the sports page. YOU! You definitely need the New York City phone book. And a chair....... I think you might be here a while getting it all out.) Of course the rooms would be sound proof, but they would also have pillows with disposable covers on them to scream into. (We still need to be courteous and respectful of other's feelings when in the cry room. Not to mention the guy with the phone book might throw it at you if your screaming irritates him further.) After spending time in the cry room, you simply gather up your cart and continue on with your shopping, relaxed and refreshed. Sounds good doesn't it?

Unfortunately, no one has marketed this idea as of yet. (Feel free to steal my idea and run with it. Who would have thought they would ever put coffee shops in every store, and yet.........) As a way of coping, we begin to teach children at a young age to keep their feelings inside. I have always maintained that we teach our kids to talk and walk, to tell them to shut up and sit down. I will be the first one to admit to being guilty of this. Back when I was doing child care, I employed the use of a "time out corner" for everything from hitting, to biting, to temper tantrums. Many a kid would commit an offense, and then say "I know. I'm going." without me having to say a word.

I understand that as a society we need rules and structure to get along. It's just kind of sad that I have to be dragged (or drag myself) from store, to store, to store. Have my safe, comfortable, predictable schedule blown to bits. Maybe take time to eat, maybe dig through my purse to find a crumbly, who knows how old, peanut butter cracker to tide me over while I endure ONE more store, that turns out to be ten more. Is it any wonder that by the time I hit store number eleven I am finding it extreamly difficult to keep it together. When I am told that they are all out of the ice cream I want (Note: The promise of getting some was the only thing keeping me under contol in the last eight stores.) not to mention (the look that I get from) the person telling me they are all out is also saying "You shouldn't have it anyway, it will spoil your waistline." How can I NOT loose it? I didn't ask to do any of these errands. It is NOT my idea of a good time. I was given NO choice in the matter. (Even if I was given a choice, and it sounded like fun in the beginning, I am SOOOOOOO over it now, and can't even begin to remember why I thought it sounded like a good time.) And yet, I am expected to continue to keep a smile on my face, AND a pleasant attitude the whole day long. Asking a lot, isn't it?

I'm sure there are at least one of two of you out there that are disagreeing with me right now. You're saying, "I know several adults who function by having temper tantrums all the time." (Can you say boss?) You're right. We might hide it a little better than a two-year-old, but it happens. A snide remark here, an inuendo there, here a slam, there a glare, everywhere a grumble grumble. (Oh! Wait! That's the tune used for Old MacDonald Had A Farm.) I, myself, have been known to pull off a temper tantum or two to get my way with (my) Mister. (Not me?) He is the only one in my life that let's me get away with it. Everyone else expects me to act like a grown-up. And let me tell you.............. Boy! Does that make me mad!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Embrace your setbacks...................................

There have been a fair amount of people in my world lately that have been having a variety of setbacks regarding personal goals. An injury, a job loss, a struggle to break out of an established pattern. All of these things have a negative over-tone, and yet each has the potential to become the best thing to ever happen to these people.

It's not about what happens to you, it's about what you do/how you react to what happens to you that is important.

When something rocks your world, it is natural to spend some time being angry, worried, depressed, and/or all of the above. Unfortunately, few things are changed for the better through the expressions of those feelings. To move forward, means to move out of those feelings. One way to move out of those feelings might be to spend some time with your setback, to find out what it has to teach you. Go ahead and introduce yourself, and say "I am here to learn." Of course this process works better if you really want to understand what your setback has to teach you. Often, we want to just push the unpleasant event aside and move on to bigger and better things.

I could bore you with many a poor quality relationship in my past, but I won't. (Collective HUGE sigh of relief heard here.) What I will share, is that until I was willing to look at what these relationships were telling me, I kept repeating them. Okay! Maybe there are a ton of crappy men out there, but even my luck isn't bad enough to continually end up with one just because. It WAS all about me, and what I was bringing to the relationships. I am sure that at least one or two of those guys are currently living really nomal lives, and are really happy in a relationship. (Some of them WERE just total loosers, and probably still are.) It wasn't until I was able to delete a great share of the negative messages, that I came to believe I deserved to be in a sane relationship. It wasn't until I spent time identifing these negative messages (embracing the setbacks) that I was able to start deleting them. Then what do ya know? Right when I wasn't looking, on 2/15/1999, (looser number one thousand and one had moved out the day before, VALENTINE'S DAY, with the help of the girl he had hooked up with while I was out of town on a trip, taking with him some of my blank checks, and leaving behind a huge phone bill with calls to several other girls in several other states also incurred during afore mentioned absence, but that is a whole other blog!) (my) Mister wandered into my world, and we all know how nice and (nearly) sane he is!

So....... Just for fun....... Pick a setback in your life, (Past or present, doesn't matter.) and spend some time seeing what you learned/could learn from it. How did/can it enrich your life? How can/did it become a springboard to greater contentment? If you want to share, I would love to hear what you discover/uncover during your quest.


Have been meaning to post the pictures of our front yard make-over. Was waiting for the rest of the mulch to arrive, but of course it is on back order, so it could be August......... Some day I will show you the finished product, but for now this is it. Some improvement isn't it? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pleased (to) Play........................

Has to be me has given me a letter out of the alphabet to build a post around. In case anyone else wants to give it a try, (and so you understand why I am creating the list I am creating) the directions are below. If you want to participate and don't have your own blog, (as in anonymous commenters) you can simply use the comment section to compile you list. Okay! Let's play!

The Instructions: Comment, and I shall give you a letter. Go back to your journal/blog, and write ten words beginning with that letter, including an explanation of what those words means to you and why.

I plan to start my list with my all time favorite word, that happens to begin with the letter P.

PLETHORA! I like the way the word rolls off my tounge. I like it's meaning: Abundance, lots of, a bunch, tons, filled to over flowing. My hope for the world ( and every person/pet in it) is a plethora of love.

PLAY! Somthing that none of us do enough of, and something that we feel guilty about doing most of the time we are doing it. It is a side effect of growing up, and we could all benefit from re-leaning to play from the young (at heart regarless of age) around us.

PICTURE! Worth a thousand words, captures a moment in time, brings into focus our hopes and dreams, (you know...... Picture this...........) jolts our memory. So take lots, and look at them often.

PLEASE/PLEASED/PLEASING! What I say (whine)to be polite/get my way. What I am when my family is happy. What I have been addicted to being to others for most of my life. (Not always in a good way. Can I say NO? Not enough, but I am working on it!)

PIE! In certain circles, (that most of you have never heard of) Patty's Pies are famous. My pie crust used to be tough as nails, until I discovered the "never fail pie crust recipe." One truly cannot screw it up.

PIANO! NO! I don't play, but I have always secretly longed to be able to do so. I wish I could play any musical instrument, but alas........................ I even bought a guitar once, but I guess my fingers are just too short, because it didn't go well. (one more thing someone will have to clean out of the attic when I die. Now that would be an interesting tag...... "What's in your atic, and why?") I can play "Three Blind Mice" AND "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the piano, so maybe there is hope for me yet.

PANCAKES! I don't really like them or eat them, but my youngest used to LOVE to make them, even before she was tall enough to reach the counter without a chair. I have the most adorable picture of her about nose high to the counter flipping a pancake on the griddle. One time, when she was still learning to read a recipe, she put in Tablespoons of baking powder instead of teaspoons. (For those of you that don't cook, trust me, this is not a good thing.) We didn't want to hurt her feelings, so we managed to choke them down with lots of syrup and jam, and it is still one of the family memories that we laugh about the most.

PUMPED! What I am about my up-coming Hospice training, and my up-coming road and trail races. As I said before, the hospice training will fullfill my New Years resolution. While nothing comes to mind, (It's been a few years since I have made a formal resolution, and my memory isn't what it used to be.) I'm also sure it will be the first one I have actually kept. I have touched base with "You know who you are," and am as excited to actually meet her face to face as I am about the training. The first of the two races will mark my one year anniversary of racing. Bonus, it has worked out that (my) Mister gets to come with me. It will be the first time the two of us have gone anywhere together since last August. That's a L-O-N-G time. The trail race has me pumped because it will be another first in my life. There is already talk about an even longer trail race next year, but I told all the youngsters that we should find out how much I slow them down before extending me a formal invite for next year. I did find out that my age gives us a boost (increases our handicap) as far as scoring purposes, so sometimes old age can be a plus.

PURPLE! Mom's favorite color. (Talking (my) Mister's birth mom, but I adopted her when I met him, and always valued her motherly advice and opinions.) It will soon be the one year anniversary of her death, and was our first Mother's Day without her. Whenever I see anything that is the color purple, but especially purple flowers, it ALWAYS brings mom to mind. Even though she has left this earth, I still rely on her advice and opinions, and the color purple is one of the ways I stay connected to her.

PEOPLE! People who need people...... Are the luckiest people in the world....... (Barbra Steisand song lyrics for you young people.) It takes all kinds to make the world go round. Can't live with them, can't live without them. (NO! Wait! That's men isn't it?)

That was fun now wasn't it? Remember, anyone is invited to play, and it is easy to join in. (See above instructions.) Which one of you can top this sentence using my list of words?

A plethora of people where pumped about playing pleasing music on a purple piano while eating pie and pancakes.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Nope! You don't have your dates confused. It is Monday. It is just so early on Monday, I thought I would write about Saturday; since it was such a full day, and it lingers in my mind still.

I became aware of being awake praying, before the alarm clock went off at four forty-five in the morning. I had to laugh at myself when I realized what I was praying for was lightening! It would be just down-right dangerous crazy to go running when it was lightening now wouldn't it? When I reach full conciousness, I came to the conclusion that my luck (what luck?) was holding, and there wasn't one single flash of lightening to be seen. Only thing left to do was get up and get moving. (Tell me again why I write stupid things like "I don't make excuses to not run." in this blog? Now I have to hold myself to them.) If I didn't do my first run of the day, I couldn't go to the plant sale. (I am so good at punishing and rewarding myself. Years of practice I guess?) The good news is, since I didn't have time to drive to the trails, I did my long run on the road, so I finished in eighty-five minutes instead of the pledged ninty minutes, and it didn't start lightening as soon as I was two miles from home, so for once not having (MY kind of ) luck worked out.

So.......... At one minute to eight in the morning, I was feeling good for having one run out of the way, and my youngest and I were pulling into the plant sale. I was slightly mifted to see, oh about a thousand people, all ready pulling plants into their piles since the sale didn't officially start until eight am, but in the excitement of it all, I was able to let it go.

The plant sale was started eight years ago by a nurse that I used to work with. Her (and as the years go by more of) her friend (s) started to thin their perennials in the spring and sell them to their friends at very reasonable prices. Since we don't work together any longer, it is the only time of year I get to see her. What I like best about her plants, is that they are real, not ones force started in a greenhouse so they are already hardy and tend to do really great. My only rule of gardening is "I stick you in the ground. From that point on you are on your own. You get watered when it rains, and weeded if your lucky. If you die, there is more where you came from next year." Sounds harsh I know, but as a result I have some pretty hardy plants. You know..... Survival of the fittist. Pick your battles. Tough love. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger...................................

Being brilliant, I had gotten lunch ready for my friend (other right arm) to serve to the OPs Friday night, so when I got home from the plant sale, and my youngest headed off to her track meet, (I had switched my prayer to NO lightening please) I actually had time to sit down and relax for a few minutes. I fast forwarded through last weeks Ghost Whisper, and still can't believe how it ended. (I have got to learn to let things go!) (My) Mister, doesn't watch the show, but I am sure that he is wishing he did so he could tell me something profound to make me BELIEVE the ending and get on with my life instead of walking around muttering (I can't believe they did that," and "I can't believe I didn't see it coming." under my breath........... By the way, I've seen "Sixth Sense three or four times, and I still say the same things every time it ends. )

Time arrived to get ready for the funeral, other right arm arrived and we were on our way to say a final farewell to our resident. I had decided to speak at the funeral, and share some of my memories. It is a good thing that I took my visual aid, because several people came up to me afterwards and told me they didn't recognize me until I pulled it out......... Then they made the connection. (I was going to include a picture of the famous visual aid in this post, but I forgot to bring it in out of the truck, so it went to work with (my) Mister this morning. The visual aid is a piece of wood with a hook, two clamps, and a screw attached to it. My resident designed this to assist himself with dressing so he could retain his independence. He loved showing it off to everyone that visited, thus they all recognized it fondly when I talked about it at the service.) Must be they didn't recognize me because every time they saw me at home, I had my normal uniform of shorts, T-shirt, hair pulled back, naked face on, and out of respect today I was wearing a dress, had my hair down, AND Makeup........ And they say clothes don't make the (wo)man! My youngest was sporting the layerd look. After she ran the four by eight, she threw a skirt and top on over her track uniform, came to the service and then returned to run the two mile (AND GET A P/R of thirteen thirteen!) She had forgotten to grab different shoes, and looked so darn cute with her skirt and her track shoes, that she helped me not be so sad at my loss.

Funeral finished, (It had been very special, and as the talk went: "Would have made our resident very proud." off I headed to do my afternoon run on the trails. Since it had been raining nearly non-stop for three days I was sure I would encounter some mud, and was ready to "take it on!" The first half of the trial was a little slicker than normal, but I ran it fine, and was feeling pretty cocky since the trees were blocking most of the rain, and I was hardly wet. Just as I am thinking this, the trail disappeared, into a mini lake that had not been there two days before. I looked around and noted that up a few yards to the side there was grass that I thought I could cross over on. What I found was a stream with a fallen log. My dilemma; cross the lake, go the mile or so back around, or pretend I was in the circus and do a balancing act on the log to get across the stream. I picked the latter, knowing if I slipped I would get soaked, but just two darn lazy to swim or go back around. (Are you holding your breath, waiting for the outcome?) I MADE IT ACROSS, without falling in! (Are you disappointed, expecting more drama after the build up?) Now I was feeling very cocky, as I continued down the trail. A hundred yards or so farther up, I was again stopped by water. Only this time there was no land in sight. (Except of course behind me, and I just wasn't going to let that be an option.) Had this been the race, of course I would have just ran through both lakes, but it wasn't, and I had to go to the store after I finished running, and I didn't want to be walking around with sqishy, squeeky shoes. Nothing left to do but take them off and wade across the mid-calf deep COLD water, praying that no little fish bit my toes. (Okay! logically I know this wasn't likely, but that happen to me once when I was a kid swimming in a lake and I have had a phobia about it ever since.) I made it to the other side, put my shoes and socks on and finished the rest of the trail uneventfully.

When I got home with the groceries, I declared that Mother's Day was starting early this year, and went to bed, leaving (my) Mister to deal with the bedtime routine for the OPs. Did I say I wasn't lucky? Maybe not, but I am very fortunate that I have a husband and children that spoil and support me in every way. Thanks gang! I love you more!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day, In review..........................................

I slept in this morning! When I got up, my oldest had already called to wish me happy mother's day....... "So she could be first." About an hour after I talked to her, my (cool) son showed up with rocks for my garden, a card, and another present. (He had made me open one yesterday that was a Book titled "Why A Son Need A Mom." Isn't that sweet? Anyway, he was just slightly miffed that he had not been first to reach me with good wishes for the day, as he had gotten up two hours early to assure he would be. Fast forward a half hour, and my youngest gets up and presents me with her card. She had signed it "with more love then anybody elses." I never knew I raised such competitive children! But then, I never recognized that I was so competitive. They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Mmmmmm.

We spent the next couple of hours hauling rocks to the pond area, pulling weeds, (that came out easy with all the rain we have had) and planting plants. Then, with most of our residents out for the day, we watch an ENTIRE movie without being interupted once....... Not even one phone call! What more of a perfect day could I have ask for?

One of my favorite things, is to look back over cards and letters that my kids have given to me over the years. I thought I would take "my" day, and share some of them with you.

From my youngest ( at age nine):

To: Mommy
Moms so swet (sweet)
Moms so nice
I love her
So and nothing
Can stand
Betwin (between) us

From my cool son (also at age nine):

To Mommy
From _________

Someone how's (who's) vare (very) spesal (special)
To me. Someone how (who) alwas (always)
Love. Someone how (who) Take's
Care of me. Should get a valuble (valuable) spesal (special) gift.

I Love you look on back

On the back of the page he had drawn two coupons for two to three hours of babysitting for his little sister. (She is eight years younger, but he was only nine. He must have meant watching her while I was at home?)

Just to keep with the same age span this is a letter my oldest wrote to me one of the times she was away with her dad at age nine.

Dear Mommy Thank you for the postkrd. (post card) I was thinking yesterday that me an dyou cud (could) take a day off and go get me stuf for school. I missed you A lot. I had fun caping. (camping) ______ let me pik (pick) A picture out for you. ______ had her picture tuken. (taken) When we went caping it rained all nite long. ______ was sleeping in a puddul (puddle) He dided (didn't) even wake up.

I guess being a poor speller doesn't fall far from the tree as well.

My oldest grew up to be a real writer. Below is a poem she wrote for me for Mother's Day.

My Mom
My mom is a woman who I look up to
Always supportive and unconditional
She teaches me about strength and love
And makes me proud to stand out in a crowd
My mom is someone who I can trust
Never let's me down or says, "that's too tough"
She always listens and makes it better
No matter how little the problem or size of the battle
I want to be just like my mom
With all the love and lessons learned
I love my mom in every way
I'm glad she's mine- I wouldn't have it any other way
I am so blessed this Mother's day, and every day, to have such great kids, and to be loved so much and thought of so highly. There will never be any riches that can compair to what I already have, and I wish the same for all of you.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Five things that made me laugh yesterday.............

1. The above four pictures....... Emma has not been getting much attention from me, and it appears to be making her depressed. Ben on the other hand, had a great time playing in the mud when I wasn't keeping an eye on him. The last picture is after his shower.

2. An e-mail that I recieved from my (friend) "other right arm", in which she was discribing her home repair woes. As she put it, "Crying doesn't do any good, so I might just as well laugh about it." Anyone that has done any remodeling can relate to this concept right? It always takes twice as long, and ends up costing twice as much as first predicted.

3. The fact that I drove over to the trails for a quick run to see how it would be to run in the mud........ Only to find out, inspite of it having rained all day, the ground was so dry all the water had soaked in and there wasn't a drop of mud to be found. My typical luck......... Had I wanted it to have soaked in, I would have been ankle deep in it.

4. My respite resident. She was scheduled to come this week, and turns out the timing of that has been a double blessing, first by keeping me busy where I might have had empty time on my hands, and secondly she is always so happy and pleasant that you just can't help but laugh when she is around.

5. A blog post by
Silverine entitled "PC Hunt"
They say laughter is contagious. I hope you catch some, and pass it on after checking out my post.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Angels, here on Earth...............................

This is the discription of hospice workers in one of the comments regarding yesterday's post.

I couldn't agree with the discription more, and thought I would use today's post as a way of saying thank you to, and paying recognition for a job well done, to the specific angels that helped us out over the past few weeks.

The first contact we had with the hospice, came in the form of a sweet, kind, and PATIENT woman that showed up at our door to do the intake paper work. She was here for OVER three hours making sure that not only all the Ts were crossed and Is were dotted, but that every tiny question was answered, and all of us were comfortable with the plan of care.

My mind is a little blured, but I think she was also the one that got me through a total melt-down. (If it wasn't her, I apologize, and I know that which ever one of you it was will know what I am talking about.) That day, I was having an anxiety attack. (I don't know why, but I get them sometimes.) The hospice worker first and foremost listened and validated my feelings. Then she went on to tell me that what I was feeling was normal, okay, and important. (It pushes all the RIGHT buttons when someone tells me I am normal, since most of the time I wonder if it so!) I will be forever grateful for her words, and for the kindness, compassion, and practicality she showed to me that day.

The first RN to come, was on weekend duty. She arrived during lunch time, pulled up a chair, and chatted with us as if we had known her forever. This is a skill that you just can't teach. Also one that I can't express the importance of. It can be an uncomfortable feeling inviting a stranger into your home. Every single hospice worker that came was so warm and personable that it was like greeting a friend from the very first visit. Aso important to note, there was no hurry in her (or any of the others for that matter) demeaner, no hint of "you're wasting my time," or "Just doing my job." How great is that?

The social worker is another angel that was born to do the work she is doing. She did a fabulous job of meeting our resident's needs, as well as my own. For me, having her visit was kinda like therapy - without the bill! I always felt that a burden (that I didn't even realize I was carrying) was lifted after chatting with her. Thank you too, for putting my needs first by listening to me and my ramblings, the day you could have been quietly catching up on paperwork, while the visitor was getting to know our resident.

Visitor......... What a title, for someone that is so much more. Confidant, friend, listening ear, show-er-up-per; just a few thing that the volunteer visitor signs on for. The sweet, special young lady (older than a teen maybe, but can't be by much. Younger than me by a far enough span that I get to call you that.) She was a "Nubie," (Meaning ours was her first "case.") but her caring and compasionate way of interacting with us made it seem like she was a seasoned pro. Thank you for all of your considerations, but especially thanks for dealing with the dogs, and taking time to give them their fair share of attention. Along the lines of "Love me, love my dogs"......... Care for me, by caring about my dogs.

We were also assigned an CENA/ nurses aide to come in and assist with basic care needs. Her first assignment was to give our resident's feet some special tender loving care. There is nothing more wonderful than having one's feet attended to, and I know our resident felt like a pampered prince after your visits. I appreciated the helping hand, and your tender loving style of delivering care.

I also had the pleasure of a visit from marketing dude. (Don't be offended, it's just my creative use of coming up with anyonomous names for people.) I am sure he might think the visit was more strange than pleasurable, but he hung in and rolled with the punches. First I made him sit and wait while I attended to our resident, then I spent like five minutes with him and ask him (In jest! Honest!) where my presents were. You see, It is the marketing dude's job to sell the agency so that when you need services you pick their agency. I told him that the last marketer to stop by had given me a handi-dandy jar opener, and I expected him to do better than that. Not missing a beat, he assured me he could easily top that gift. I then told him he was welcome to continue chatting with me, but I needed to get lunch. He followed me out, remembered to compliment my house and yard, (Great move by the way,) and delivered his message without being invasive or pushy. Oh! Ya! I later found a big pile of gifts on the end table. One of the things he gave me was one of those "Lance Armstrong type" braclets. I plan to add it to my list of "must wear" for all future races that I run, in memory of our resident. Thank you very much!

The regular RN that attended to our resident's medical needs/monitoring is out of this world wonderful! Important - she knows her stuff, and did a great job of ordering supplies in a timely manner, delivering care to our resident, and keeping the doctor informed and up to day on our resident's status. MUCH more important to me, (Isn't it always about me?) she got me without my saying a word. Let me say that again....... She got me! And not many people seem to. Though we never discuss it, she picked up on how important it was for me to care for and about our resident. She let me lead if you will, playing the supportive roll without being ask. She communicated with me as an equal medical professional when discussing our resident's status, and ALWAYS remembered to tell me what a good job I was doing caring for and keeping our resident comfortable. ( I do need my strokes, don't I?) Right there whenever I needed her, she was never pushy or intrusive. We truly had an un-spoken connection, and at least two times that I can recall, within two seconds of thinking I needed to call her, and update her on something, the phone rang and guess who was on the other end of the line? (For those of you that are slow to catch on.... Yup! it was her. Are you saying "Spooky" right now? I say "amazing!")

One more person, that deserves honorable mention, is our resident's doctor. He is the medical director of the hospice that we worked with, but has also been our resident's doctor for many years. As our resident began to decline, doc started coming to our home to see him. Can't say you know too many docs that will do that can you? In addition to that, how many docs do you know that come in and greet you with a big bear hug? How many docs do you know that take time to discuss family, share grand-baby stories, (his, not mine) as well as a love of Italian cuisine? He also had a great respect for our resident, and worked hard to keep him an active participant in his plan of care. In addition to delivering great care, he had a great table side (akin to bedside) manner, listened to my concerns (and frustrations) and - are you ready for this? - gave me his home phone number in case I needed to contact him after hours! Who could ask for anything more?

Indeed, all of these people are angels in my eyes, and each has a gift of ministering to the dying. (And in my case, the needy.) It is a hard job to do day after day. One that cannot be done without investing (at least) a little part of your heart. Know that you are appreciated, and that I have made some adjustments, moved some folks around......... and each of you, now all has a special place in my heart, and you are welcome to stop by anytime you need an increase in your hug quota for the day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A death in the family..................................

The resident that has lived with us longest, has completed his transition from this life to the next, and is again by his beloved wife's side. She had left this world four years ago, and he has missed her desperately. He misses her no more!

Hospice was brought in by his doctor, about three weeks ago, and they were a wonderful help and support for both his family and ours. Of course helping me, meant that they allowed me to help them.

Earlier today, the aide came to help the nurse give him a bed bath. A few days ago, when he could still verbalize, he thanked me for taking such good care of him, and expressed concern about what would happen when he could no longer talk. I told him, when that time came, I would do my best to be sure he had everything he needed. Hospice met MY NEED to be the in there washing him, and making sure he was treated with tender loving care, just as I promised him I would. I can't tell you how much I appreciated being able to continue to care for him until he no longer required care in this world. Right up until he passed on, he continued to provide for me, by allowing me to provide for him. Now, that's love!

Over the past several days, I have been thinking that the preparation for both birth and death, have many simularities. At least in my world, you pick out a special outfit for going home in. As the event gets closer, you attempt to provide an atmosphere of peace, calm, and rest, to prepare for the hard work ahead. Both occasions cause tears to flow; while I cry tears of sadness for me, (simular to what a baby sheds when being booted out of the nice warm womb) I can only shed tears of joy for him.

I am fortunate that I have a belief that the life we live on Earth is not all there is. I can respect another's view that once your heart stops beating, that is the end. I just can't imagine how they survive the loss of a loved one without the hope of better things beyond? Look at the seasons, and how nature is renewed year after year, by the old dying plants as their seasons come to an end. Doesn't it make sense then, that we too have a purpose and a reason as our season on Earth comes to a close?

When things get hard for me, one saying that always makes them better is "Great is our reward in Heaven." I will not debate the truth in the statement...... It works for me. But then, I am also of the belief that I don't care if I have the placebo, as long as it works for me. I am happy in my belief that as our resident's suffering came to a close, his true joy began. I am comforted by this belief, and that is all I can ask for in our time of loss.


I wrote that yesterday, right after his passing. Thanks for being here to listen to me, and let me get it out. The process is soooo important. While I was typing the above, the hospice nurse was making phone calls, his close relationships were spending time saying good-bye, and life was going forward in the mist of all of that. The funeral home came to collect his body, and as they wheeled it out, my mind traveled back to the first day he entered my door, my life, and my heart. I learned many things from him over the past two years, and maybe even taught him a thing or too. ( At his age of ninty-eight, the phrase "I've seen it all carries a little more meaning, don't ya think?) Our lives have been enriched, though knowing him, and it gives me great comfort and peace knowing that we played a role in his being able to write his ending exactly the way he wanted it to go. Life is indeed good!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Perseverating on Television...........................

I started watching Ghost Whisperer a few months ago. I finally had time to watch the season finale. (taped from last week) I don't know anyone else that watches it, and there is no one but me around her to gather round the water cooler to talk about it. I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW THEY ENDED THE SHOW, and am dying to talk to someone else about it. If anyone else is a fan, let me know what you thought. Thanks!
I've got to stop watching Dr Phil.............................

As I was hunched over the stove (Unable to staighten from all the hours in the yard earlier in the day.) getting dinner started, Dr. Phil was also starting. The story line was about out of control mothers. Boy! Was that an understatement! This woman was on tape smacking her ten year old son, and as she was smacking him she was sreaming at him to be quiet. (In much more colorful discriptive language.) While she was doing this, her other children where trying to dissappear least she come un-glued towards them. As much as I wanted to turn away from the screen, I was unable to. Not because I enjoy watching someone elses pain, but because simply listening to the parent/child exchanged instantly transported me back to my childhood.

In the above scenario, I was the one that most of the time was trying to be invisable. My younger brothers received most of the physical abuse, but that fact carries a certain amount of guilt with it as well. Listening to that little boys cries of pain, and then his mother telling him he was "Faking it" is far too reminiscent of words I heard on a daily basis.

Why do I feel the need to write about this? Mother's day is coming up, so reading this will make most of you jump for joy that this is not the mother/childhood you remember. The real reason I am talking about this, is because it is not an isolated event. All I could think of after finally being able to turn the channel, was if you aren't being the kind of mom that you want to be, please be strong enough to ask for help. Yes! There is shame involved; guilt and denial as well. Nine and a half times out of ten, you are only parenting as you were parented, and this is not your fault. Please! Do what you need to do, to let this cycle end with you; so your future grand-babies might not know this type of pain.

When I turned seventeen, I could not wait to have a baby of my own. (And yet somehow managed to hold off until I was twenty-one.) I knew how I didn't want to parent, but I had no idea how I did want to parent. My boyfriend at that time (who several years later became my first husband) played on a softball team, and instead of watching his games, I used to watch one of the wives on the team interact with her children. She really became my role-model for mothering. Ten years later when I ran into her, and told her the great influence she had been on my parenting style, her children where teens. She told me that there were days when she felt she had done nothing right, but I know she appreciated the compliment.

The other two things I was able to change with my children, was allowing them to express their feelings, (at least ninty-nine percent of the time.) and being big enough to apologize when I was wrong. Most of you are saying, "Well, of course that is what you do with your children." Not in the world I grew up in. Even if you were "proven innocent" the best you could expect to hear was "Go on! Get out of my face." (Which were the words we all lived to hear.)

Does this mean I have been the perfect parent? Heavens no! Under stress, I have been known to revert back to a screaming bitch, and I will admit to having hit my children in anger over the years. In spite of these behaviors, I have worked hard to do better than what was done to me, and know that I have been successful. And if I can learn to do better, then anyone can do it. Also, by correcting some of my mistakes, my children will do better when they have children. (You should see how my oldest spoils her dog!) I can remember on one vacation (my older two were early teens) sitting around the campfire listing to "Remember that time Mom beat me" stories. While their perceptions were very different from mine, I had no choice but to listen. That is the thing. When you are a child, you really are helpless to do anything to change your situation. Whatever you perceive, IS your reality. It is up to us adults to put their own fears aside, and step in and help the child. Most of the time, this means helping the parent.

When I was going through my first divorce, I couldn't get my children into therapy fast enough. It was important that I give them a place to work through their feelings. (They were three and five at the time.) Before the first session was over the therapist determined that I was the one that needed the therapy. (Smart woman!) She helped me tweak my parenting, and cope with the stress of a divorce. I can distinctly remember it took her three sessions to convince me that the world would not end if my oldest wore jeans and T-shirts to school day after day, instead of the pretty dresses I wanted her to wear. We ended up compromising with my oldest getting to pick her clothes out three days a week, and me picking twice a week. Within a month, I was cured, (of this control only, )and she has worn what she wanted since then......... Jeans and T-shirts. Until Middle school, when it would be "Mom, will you do my hair?" So, of course I would drop everything, do her hair, and then listen to "I don't like it like this," and she would re-do it. I learned (without the benefit of therapy) to either say no, or make her give me exact instructions on how she wanted it to turn out. I would call that progress wouldn't you?

Now that you have completed one of the strangest pre-Mother's day post in the history of blogging, let me direct you to a more traditional one. Beautifully written by
Mind Curry it will lift you out of any gloom I might have inflicted with my words. All we have is hope, and as a mother, we have the greatest ability to give our children hope, by giving them unconditional love. Our reward will be their unconditional love in return.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I miss blogging........................

The last couple of days have been hectic to say the least. Gone are the slow-moving early morning hours in which I used to relax and let my fingers type what they may. I have at least four posts in my head, but part of posting is relaxing and not worrying about anything else. I really want more time to devote to transfering them from my head to the blog.

Unfortunately, this means another morning of a quick fill in. Started this BIG overhaul of the front yard yesterday. It is me against the thistle weeds ONCE AND FOR ALL. Am trying out the new (expensive) rubber wood chips. They look fabulous, and are suppose to be gaureenteed to hold their color for ten years. I decided the investment was worth is, if I didn't have to do the whole thing every year, as we have been. Anyway, I bought fourteen or so flats of flowers, and I need to get them all in the ground today before they wilt, and so they can get a good drink when it rains later today. (Of course, because I want it to rain, I am sure the weather man will be wrong.) I was going to show you a before picture, but my youngest took the camera to school to show her friends her pictures from the prom. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a before and after to show you. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tiptoeing towards the tulips
Taking time to stop and enjoy the flowers

Prom was last night, and word has it, a good time was had by all. Poor thing, I always make her pose with my posies cause I think they make the perfect background. I especially love my garden this time of year as the color slowly begins to take over the dreary brown of winter. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A couple of trips to nowhere.........Thank goodness!.................

On my first trail run of the day this morning, I tripped twice. The first time was only a blip on the concern meter, but the second time I was air-born for a good ten seconds; arms and legs flailing, heart leaping, brain panicking, ten seconds, before managing to land on my feet instead of my hand and knees. I was so proud. They say with trail running, that falling is inevitable, but I really hope to postpone the experience for as long as possible. Why do I do this to myself you might be asking by now? The simple answer is that I like the way completing these runs makes me feel. The more I push myself, the more I realize what I am able to do.

As I was reading my hand-me-down copy of Runner's World, I came across the monthly comments of the Penguin (Real name John Bigham) and they explain to a LARGE degree why I run. I am going to copy them for you to read, remember the words are his, they just explain me really well:

"Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases a memory of a past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each footstrike rubs away a word, a look, an event, which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp.

As it turns out, many penguins weren't running to anything. We were running from bad habits, and bad relationships; from the worst of ourselves in a desperate attempt to find the best of ourselves. Ultimately we discovered that running was the means to that end.
The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.

Known as the Penguin Credo, it captures the spirit of the new breed of runners. For penguins, the miracle is that we found our way to the stating line. Getting to the finish line is simply the frosting on the cake."

Nothing more I can add, except to again plagiarize and end this blog the way he ends his pieces and say "Waddle on."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Full of myself........................

Why? You ask.

Because I am so sure that there are so many of you out there that LIVE for my morning post, and since I have a schedule change, and no time to publish a real post, I wanted to let you know, and also that I will probably have one at some point today, so you didn't worry. (Or shift into withdrawl symptoms.) And you say "It's all about me!" (How very perceptive of you!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why do we do that?.............................

A few days ago, I had a conversation with someone that was upset. Seems one of her co-workers called in sick, because she couldn't sleep the night before. The upset person's take on the situation was "I haven't sleep IN THREE YEARS, and I have NEVER called in sick because of it!"

Day before yesterday, a different person was commenting on the same type of thing. She was questioning someone's "poor me" attitude. Wondering out loud why she was able to "Muster on" in the face of adversity, and the other person seemed to receive support to fall apart, letting others take over her responsibilities.

Yesterday, I woke up with an extreamely stiff neck. I had no range of motion to the left without shooting pain, and very limited up and down movement. Regardless of my pain, residents still needed to be washed, dressed, fed, walked, etc... I remember thinking, "Sick day? What's a sick day?" as I was feeling sorry for myself. That is one problem with being your own boss I guess. I also began thinking just what it might take for me to ask for help and stay in bed.

Why is it that some of us have an easier time asking for assistance than others? Why do some of us opt to take care of everything we can, sometimes up to the point of doing so much that our body finally rebels against our efforts and becomes ill? In the midst of our "slaving away" why do we look around us and condemn the choices of others? There has been many times that I voiced jealousy about what I perceived as someones "easy life." What is really going on with these feelings?

The last time I checked, bondage has been out-lawed. No one holds a gun to my head to get me to do the things I do, and make the choices I make. If I really felt the need to have someone stand in for me yesterday, I could have found someone. I really never let that idea be an option. (And....... After yesterday's no excuses blog, I didn't let my stiff neck stop me from running either. I think the jaring motion actually helped to loosen up the muscles a little bit.) Did anybody criticize me for my choices? (If they did, they didn't say it out loud.) Why then, am I so quick to pass judgement on another's choices?

I could give you all kinds of examples in which I felt my needs were not met when I ask for help, and this is why I don't bother now. Pretty much this would just lead back to me being the ultimate control freak....... "Help me! But make darn sure you help me EXACTLY like I want to be helped or it will count against you." And yet isn't it my right to get my needs addressed in a way that fullfills me? Oh right! This is life, not a fairy tale.....................

When I was a child, nothing I did was good enough, and was always criticized. When my kids were growing up, I had to learn that if I ask for their help I needed to either tell them "I wanted the house cleaned Mom's way," (example: take the items off the table to dust, and vacuum under things not just around them.) or shut up about the job they did. I learned to shut up most of the time, and take advantage of special occasions (my birthday, mother's day, and Santa is coming in less than a week, and he doesn't leave presents at dirty houses!)

Not that long ago, (my) Mister was down with back pain. I took care of him, just like I would have liked to be taken care of. (And received no complaints about the service from him by the way.) I remember, when he was getting better, telling him that he should be taking notes in his planner as to what I did for him, as it would make a perfect primer to follow the next time I was sick. Telling that to a friend, her reply was, "My favorite is when I am so sick I can't even lift my head off the pillow and one of my family members comes in and ask when I am going to make dinner!" I don't have it that bad, but it would be nice if my family could figure out that when I am sick in bed I really don't care what kind of fruit and/or veggies they serve. If we are out of toilet paper, Kleenex will do in a pinch, and who's socks are whos can wait until I am feeling better. Can any of you relate to what I am saying? Maybe we should all put our heads together and come up with the top twenty-five things to do or NOT DO (Or two lists with twenty-five things to do AND not do.) when mom isn't feeling well. Maybe later...... Right now someone needs me to do something for them!