Snippet from my 2010 Journal

Snippet from my 2010 Journal

“It’s Saturday and I woke up my Mom to give her some pills. She wondered where she was and what day it was. I explain and then I encourage her to get out of bed. It sometimes feels strange to be playing the Mom role and saying it’s time to get up now. I lay out her clothes and help her get dressed. Mom walks a few laps around the house for exercise, and then I make breakfast. In the afternoon, we go to the hair salon and then for a long drive (enjoying a chicken burger and ice cream en route). We come home and Mom helps me in the office for a few hours stuffing envelopes or counting pamphlets and is very content. She enjoys helping and being involved. Later, she is not sure who I am for a while and then realizes that I am her daughter. She doesn’t remember anything from the day but wonders when the house was sold which is now almost 7 years ago. I get her safely in bed and the light goes out.” ~ Shayla Morag

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a Virtue

Being a caregiver can involve having  a lot of patience. Patience is the ability to tolerate delay without frustration. Those with patience are able to remain calm and avoid impulsive action when faced with challenges. Being impatient has little to offer. The line at the store is impervious to your thoughts and emotions. If you’re stuck, you may as well enjoy yourself. Patience is beneficial to your health, happiness, relationships, and goals. Impatience is costly.

Consider these important benefits to having patience:

1. It’s easier to be happy when you’re patient. Impatient people are not experiencing positive feelings. Having patience reduces stress and anxiety. Challenging situations are more manageable when the situation can be approached with patience.

Has being impatient ever benefitted you? How do you feel when you’re impatient? Are you stressed? Happy? Uncomfortable? Are the patient people you know more or less happy than the impatient people you know?

2. Patient people are healthier. The stress that impatient people feel is hard on the mind and body. Those that feel less stress suffer from fewer medical issues. Heart conditions, ulcers, and many other health conditions are made more serious by stress. You can potentially live longer and enjoy yourself more if you’re patient.

3. You can accomplish larger goals. Big goals require time. Time requires patience. Big goals are impossible without some measure of patience. Consider how your impatience has short-circuited your success in the past.

4. Some things are outside your control and patience smooths the journey. Overcoming an illness or injury can’t be sped up by sheer will or impatience. A pregnancy requires a certain amount of time. Getting over a personal loss or tragedy takes time. Losing several pounds can’t happen overnight.

5. You’ll make better decisions. Impatient people don’t take the necessary time to make wise decisions. Impatient people are stressed, and stressed people tend to be impulsive. Patience provides the time and space to contemplate the situation and make a wise decision.

Make a list of the times when impatience has cost you. Consider your personal relationships, work, and finances. Impatience leads to poor decisions. Remind yourself of those times you’ve made your life more challenging by being impatient.

It’s possible for anyone to develop patience. Follow these steps:

1. Set short goals. For example, attempt to spend the next hour being the most patient person you’ve ever known. Avoid letting anything bother you during this period of time. Extend the time as you’re able.

2. Pause before everything you say and do. Do you want to get off the couch and raid the refrigerator? Make yourself wait 15 minutes. Are you ready to interrupt a conversation to make yourself heard? Wait until the conversation has concluded before speaking. Slow down and practice patience at every opportunity. The average day will provide plenty of practice!

3. Determine when you’re least patient. When do you find yourself unable to control yourself as well as you’d like? Focus your attention on these trouble spots. Aim for slow, steady progress. Avoid expecting perfection or making too many demands on yourself. Slow and steady wins the race.

4. Notice your thoughts when you’re impatient. What do you think about when you’re feeling impatient? Notice your thoughts and change them. You can choose to think about anything you’d like, so think about something that encourages you to be patient.

Patience is a character trait worthy of cultivation. Many confuse patience with weakness or passivity. But patience is an intelligent reaction to a situation that’s outside the realm of control. Impatience can be unhealthy, create additional challenges, and make you miserable in the process. Which do you choose?

Feeling Lighter with Forgiveness

Feeling Lighter with Forgiveness

As a caregiver, you can find yourself in situations where you feel judged, belittled, left out, or not appreciated. If someone hasn’t walked in your shoes, words can be said that can be hurtful and misunderstood. You can forgive others in these tough and uncomfortable situations without feeling like a doormat. If you stop waiting for an apology, it is easier to move forward. The advantages of forgiveness are the same whether the other person apologizes or not. Think of pardoning others as something you do for yourself rather than for them. Below are some suggestions:

1.Lighten up. Grudges are a heavy burden. When you release your anger and disappointment, you’ll free up energy you can devote to the things you love.

2. Show compassion. Each of us makes mistakes. When you give someone a second chance, remember that you’ll probably need one yourself someday.

3. Strengthen your relationships. Family and friends are precious. Develop connections that can withstand conflicts. Resolving your disagreements can even draw you closer together when you cooperate on finding solutions.

4. Take control. You’re in charge of your own happiness. Start feeling content right now instead of checking your phone to see if your boyfriend apologized yet.

5. Promote healing. Most of all, a loving and forgiving heart is good for your mental and physical health. You might even live longer.

Sometimes you want to forgive, but resentments still linger. These steps will help you overcome the barriers to reconciliation.

1. Wish others well. Imagine yourself celebrating the good fortune of someone who offended you. Force yourself to speak kindly to them, and you’ll eventually start to cherish them for real.

2. Hold yourself accountable. In most cases, you probably played some part in the conflict. Acknowledge your actions and figure out how to make positive changes.

3. Put yourself in their shoes. When someone fails to apologize, it usually has more to do with them than with you. They may feel ashamed or vulnerable. When you think about their pain, you may feel like you have more in common.

4. Resist all-or-nothing thinking. Distinguish between the human being and their actions. If your boss criticizes you unfairly, list the things you still like about her.

5. Write it down. Venting your feelings in a diary or an imaginary letter helps to sort things out. You can express yourself freely without worrying about widening the divide.

6. Reach out. If someone close to you has trouble apologizing, you may need to make an extra effort. Let them see how you apologize and take responsibility for your actions so they can discover more options

7. Set boundaries. On the other hand, you may decide to limit contact if the relationship is dragging you down. You can still have affection and respect for someone you may need to keep at a distance at least temporarily

8. Cultivate your peace of mind. The more secure you feel, the easier it is to focus on helping others rather than judging them. You’ll understand that your future depends on your choices rather than real or imagined insults.

Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past and free yourself from anger and resentment. It’s a decision you can make on your own regardless of whether others apologize or show little remorse. You have nothing to be sorry about when you give yourself the happiness you deserve.

The Inner Spirit

The Inner Spirit

As a caregiver, we often find ourselves reaching within for inner strength to give us courage and support as we tackle the challenges of daily life.

It is the inner-self which drives our movement… our movement to take that dive… to be alive. Our legs shake, as often, we hang onto the edge… the edge which is often safe with no risk… but life is brisk.

We need to jump high… so high that we will not fall or hit the wall which would stop our flight… but not our might. Black or white we need to get on track… a track which stretches like a keyboard, maintaining harmony as we play the game, it’s all the same.

The heart beat guides us to the end… the end of our journey of action… with the reaction of our body bidding us to put on the brakes… too many retakes. We need to take a look at the outside in order to appreciate that inner-self, of cherished wealth.

Get a tune up and head bravely with determination to the finish line… run that line of life… keep the spirit of life alive… take that dive. Plan your goals and love toward the reward… there will be tears and cheers throughout the years. It is the inner-self which drives our movement… make it show… get set and go.

(I wrote this poem in 1990 for my English class. It was inspired by a mural at the Mount Allison University Athletic Centre painted by Alex Colville.)

Sweet Dreams for Everyone!

Sweet Dreams for Everyone!

If your child is waking you up at night wanting to climb under the covers with you, you could be missing out on the rest you need to handle your responsibilities at work and home. More importantly, it’s important for your child to develop the confidence to become more independent. As long as you’re prepared to withstand some fussing and crying, you can stop battling over bedtimes. Consider these suggestions for helping your child to stay in their own room so your whole family can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Steps to Take with Your Child:

1. Provide reassurance. Fear of monsters, burglars, and other imagined dangers are often the reason why your child wants you by their side. Validate their feelings. Comfort them after a nightmare and give them a stuffed toy to hug.

2. Spend time together. Your child may also need more attention. Schedule one-on-one time during the day for baking cookies or taking an outing to the petting zoo.

3. Talk it over. Ask your child what would help them sleep in their room. If they have trouble putting it into words, try making drawings or acting out the scene with sock puppets.

4. Start early. Naturally, it’s easier if you begin the process before they can walk to your room on their own. It’s simpler to prevent the habit than to break it.

5. Train in intervals. If your son or daughter is already used to late night visits after scary movies or thunderstorms, you can still create new routines. Tell them you’ll check on them every 10 minutes if they stay in their bed. Increase the intervals over time.

6. Proceed gradually. If your child needs more persuading, there are interim steps you can use. Sit by their bed until they fall asleep or let them sleep on an air mattress on your bedroom floor temporarily.

7. Be boring. This is one of those rare occasions when you want your kids to shun your company. Limit conversation and cuddling so hanging out with you isn’t much fun anyway.

8. Add lighting. If you’re lucky, your child may just be afraid of the dark. A night light or flashlight they can control could be a quick solution.

9. Offer rewards. Going to sleep on their own is a big achievement. Give your kids praise or small treats for the nights they cooperate. Stickers and sugarless gum are good choices.

Steps to Take with Yourself:

1. Examine your motives. Be honest with yourself about the role you might be playing in the situation. Parents sometimes encourage their kids to share their bedroom, especially when they like their company or want to avoid communicating with their spouse. It may be time to bond more during the day with your child or see a counselor about your marriage.

2. Create a barrier. Do you wake up in the morning surprised to find that your child slept in your bed? Hang a bell on your bedroom door or keep it locked so you can monitor the situation more closely.

3. Be firm. Persistence pays off. If you refuse to make exceptions, you’ll be able to reclaim your bedroom faster.

4. Model good sleep habits. Once each family member is enjoying their own bed, you can help them have sweet dreams. Stick to consistent bedtimes and limit late night snacking and TV.

It’s easy to drift into bedtime habits that compromise your rest. Almost 24% of parents say their kids sleep in their beds sometimes, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, if you’re consistent and positive, you can turn things around so you and your children sleep peacefully and apart.

The Moment of Glory

The Moment of Glory

Once green, the tarnished carcass rests upon the fertile soil… withered veins wrinkle this aging but glorious image… graceful with flight.

It is an image of life, which has reached the final stage… the fading stage… like a ritard at the end of a lullaby. It sleeps with the harmony of nature serving as its burial ground.

It lies crumpled… with its transformation from birth a mere memory.

The gentle breeze now lifts the leaf, its fragmented body, as a spirit floating in the air… it lingers in life, the dynamics of life with vigor… a moment of glory… freedom… then it falls back to its roots… it falls in the Fall… and lies in await for another moment of glory in the breath of the breeze.

(I wrote this poem in 1990 regarding the cycle of life.)