Archive for the ‘Barnes & Noble Bookstores’ Category

Know that old country song, “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes….?”

That’s how I feel.

I’ve been buying flowers. Flats of flowers, tubs of flowers, roots and bulbs and vines.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is to me, this year especially.

I didn’t garden much when I was a full-time caregiver.

I had enough of anything that needed constant weeding, feeding, and watering , thank you very much.

But I missed it. What do you miss?

I’ve been a gardener for as long as I can remember.

My adoptive Daddy and I practically lived outside. I helped him with our 25 rose bushes, stepped on dozens of yellow jackets feasting on fallen pears. My toes looked like little red sausages. I’d swing for a good hour, climb the top of my swing set (mother’s nightmare) while gorging myself from a plum bush I could actually reach if I pumped my legs hard enough. Then, I’d jump off and grab a warm fig and then shimmy up the dogwood tree and nestle my bottom in a comfy crook and make up some story in my head about me being a spy or a princess hidden in a tower. Ah, childhood!

No wonder I love being outside. I equate it to freedom, peace, and make believe.

So, when I stop gardening, I stop being me–in part, anyway. That’s one way I can tell I’ve lost my joy.

Joy is crucial. Not constant, but crucial.

It’s not that I blame caregiving.

I see now that my garden, my constant pruning was my writing.

I planted the seeds of Mothering Mother every day.

I think caregivers simply have to choose which “seeds” to nurture. Reep and ye shall sow. Law of attraction. Same-same.

Last spring, my book came out and I was too busy for digging in the dirt. Booksignings every weekend, talks, radio, television–it was great fun! I still get to do a lot of it and it’s still fun, and more than that, I do know that I’m reaching other caregivers. I receive emails and cards every week, heartfelt notes that let me know I did what I set out to do–to help other caregivers laugh, release a sigh of relief that they’re not the only one thinking those less-than-nice (okay, quasi-dangerous) thoughts–to know they’re not alone.

But buying my latest flat of impatiens made me realize I’ve come back ’round my mountain.

We all have treks to take. Frodo-like treks that take us up steep mountains and into dark caves.

Caregiving tested every ounce of me–my  integrity, my marriage, my capacity to give and accept forgiveness.

I had to open the door and allow death to take up residence in my home.

I had to learn to stand up for myself, for my mother, to demand proper care, demand to be heard.

Caregiving tested my body, my spirit, my beliefs, and I’d say maybe, I got a B+, and I’m being generous.

I say throw out your highs, the moments where you’re so sweet and so good you’re sappy–and throw out your lows, when you’re downright rabid and squirrely–and average the rest.

That’s your caregiving score. Your life score.

You’re not your very, very best, and you’re certainly not your momentary, dispicable worst.

You can’t do it all, not while caregiving. Make peace with that.

I took another dip in the last few months. Lost my way a bit.

Guess that’s life.

See? It’s not just caregiving that sends you on a wild goose chase.

Don’t think you won’t have headaches, problems, lows, moments of panic, moments of dire frustration after caregiving ceases. You will. (You can’t blame everything on caregiving:) I used to. I used to have thoughts like, “After mother…” I hated to say the words, but part of me longed to look over the fence. It’s not so different, if that makes sense.

I think of my recent posts and know I’m giving myself away–losing myself and finding me again, what do you think you deserve, and what are you attracting? You see where my head has been.

Where’s your head been?

Think of your words, your ruminating thoughts, look at the items you’ve bought recently–you’ll begin to see a pattern.

You might find out where you are. I used to have a pastor that said if you want to know what you love, look at your checkbook, it’ll tell you.

I watched Oprah’s Big Give the other night, and I realized that this one team wasn’t dreaming big enough.

She thought she had done a phenomenal job, but even I could see that she could do so much more–but her basket wasn’t big enough.

I recently read that life  gives you only enough to fill up your basket.

I thought, “I’d better get a bigger basket.” (Reminds me of Jaws, “We better get a bigger boat!”

As I type this blog, my nails are caked with dirt. I’ve got a smudge on one of my calves. My nose is pink and it’s still March.

Bulbs are nestled below ground and pink geraniums sit under my office window.

I’m a sun-hoochie in the spring. I can’t get enough. I don’t come in until the sun goes down.

It feels good to be back.

I hope you find your way around your mountain.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon




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As an author, and speaker on caregiving issues, one of the great things I get to do is meet other caregivers at conferences, seminars, and booksignings. I have gathered a collection of hilarious stories, and one of the best ones (and this isn’t an urban legend, I actually talked to the wife myself) is about her mother-in-law who lives with her and her husband (the mother’s son).

The son has a home-based business, so he’s in charge of watching his mom all day.  He and “mom” eat breakfast, go for a walk, and then she scoots up her chair and sits beside him all day as he works on the computer and makes calls. He gives her little jobs to do, so she feels quite useful.

The problem is….when his wife gets home at night.

His mother thinks his wife is the “other woman.”

She can’t stand her, calls her names, tell her that she should just leave, and “how could she come to their home?”

She even steals from her purse, hides her keys and puts pen marks on her clothes. They have to sneak back to the bedroom at night after “mom” has gone to sleep and make sure not to be affectionate in front of her. 

The wife was pretty cool about it all. She smiled and laughed and shook her head.

I asked if their dog’s name was Oedipus.

While that’s a cute story, it would be pretty stressful to live with.

Jealousy comes in many forms, and it isn’t just for the middle-schooler who wishes she were a cheerleader, or the college guy in love with the girl who won’t return his affections. Adults don’t like to admit to jealousy, but we still harbor it.

My mom was jealous of our fourteen-year old daughter.

Rather, she was jealous of the attention I paid her, the clothes we bought, my taking her to swim practice, or helping her with homework. But I think more than the things I did, it was the way I looked at my daughters with such deep love and hope for the future–something I couldn’t and wouldn’t hide or deny.

I “caught” my mom on the phone one time (early on when she could still dial and still knew what a phone was) complaining to her best friend about that “snippy teen girl I like better, and how that  girl never helps out, is lazy and selfish.”

I have to admit, it hurt. My daughters  were and are such a joy in my life. They infused our home with joy, color, laughter, friends, activities–all the things I so needed to be reminded of. And there was my snarly mother talking behind my back! I tried to dote on my mother as well, reminded her of her beautiful long legs, her elegant “piano hands” and her infectious smile. She would have let me go on all day.

Now, I have to admit on having more than one (to say the least) conversations with girlfriends about my mother…I understand the need to gripe, whine, and make someone the bad guy because life is bad enough and you need  bulls-eye to focus all your pain, frustrations and disappointments on. Being a sandwich generation-er, I had to be careful not to complain about my mother and my kids!

But it still hurt.

I understand already what it feels like to look at the “younger” generation with a bit of melancholy and jealousy.  Their bodies, their strength, their freedom, their bravado–all the things that begin to diminish over time.

But I’ve seen how ugly jealousy makes me, how ugly it is to observe in someone else–and knowing that it’s pure toxins in my system.

I’ve observed women’s cruelties to  each other–how some older women are downright mean and judgemental of the younger set. How sad! We need each other so much–there’s such wisdom, humor, and insight to give each other.

I don’t want t be like that. I lived my 20s, 30s, and now, almost all of my 40s. I seized a few moments, squandered others. That’s life. But I don’t want to be bitter, always comparing, always needy.

Needy is creepy.

I hurt that my mother couldn’t enjoy our daughter’s youth–fiddle with their hair and clothing, listen to their stories of dates, proms, and job interviews with sweet remembrance. I wanted us to be “girls” together.

All I can do is make different choices for myself.

When it comes to being jealous, and of course, I feel it too–I remind myself I’m getting out of “my skin,” and into someone else’s. I can only live my life and make it meaningful and joyous–and that is a conscious decision. I have to shore up my walls and choose “not to go there.”

In dealing with jealousy of our elders, I’m not sure all  of them will have the strength to monitor their thoughts and emotions–not toward the end of life, or when diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s enters the picture. anyway. Reassure them of your love, remind them of the good life they’ve had, give them appropriate attention and deserved respect–and then let it go–get their mind off it.

Reward good behaviour in yourself and others.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon


Kunati Publishing

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This week, I’ve blogged about the Law of Attraction.

It took me a while to comprehend how we can attract the negative into our life by saying we don’t want something–don’t want to be poor, don’t want to be sick, don’t want to get a divorce…

But then, last week I attended this awesome Alzheimer’s conference, and I learned something very important.

(Might I note here that I’m a school skipper from way back. It’s a wonder I ever graduated.

I personally think everyone should graduate at sixteen, that Jr. College should be paid by the state (or technical school), and that everyone should turn 18 with either their AA degree, or a skill. (sorry, opinions jump subjects at will)

What I mean is that something has to be really, really good to make me stay in the room, be alert, and take notes–and at this conference, I did all three….

Here’s what the presenter said (specialist in Alz)



Why? Because when you say, “Don’t sit own yet.”

They don’t hear the don’t.

It’s just one word, at the beginning of the sentence, their brain doesn’t pick up on it. We even say the word lower in tone, and they simply don’t comprehend it. They do the thing you told them not to. Too many words, and that one matters the least.


Why do we think our brains, our lives, or anything else is any different?

We drop the don’t, and attract the rest.

Why? Because it’s not what you say, it’s what you fixate on.

Ohhhhh….now that I get.

It’s like saying, “Don’t think about a purple elephant cooking eggs in your kitchen.”

Can you think/imagine anything else? Of course not!

I planted the image in your brain.

So, how are you attracting the good things into your life?

Are you thinking of those? Are you saying those things out loud?

As a caregiver, or a person who is struggling with a disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Cancer, MS…joy is sometimes a difficult commodity to come by.

Joy is supposed to be about happiness, right?

And what do I have to be happy about?

Losing my job? Going on two hours sleep?

Dealing with my cantankerous mom? Fighting with doctors and insurance?

Knowing this disease is only going to get worse?

Knowing that caregiving ends with losing my loved one?

Joy is about finding life’s goodness–everywhere. In the small things.

Simple pleasure. Sweet moments. Quiet, deep peace. Allowing.

Trusting. Resting.

I have a new mantra–to hold me over during the time I know what I want or need and actually achieving it:
(it’s on a post-it note on my monitor now)

Trust, Wait, Anticipate.

Trust that good will come my way.

Wait, by finding joy and staying busy.

Anticipate, imagine, and expect the good to show up.

Here are the last of my questions I asked Linda Merlino, author of Belly of the Whale, coming out in April. (check back posts for the premise of this book) Hope you’ve enjoyed my guest blogger, Linda. I’ve enjoyed our Q&A–only thing better would have been if it were face to face and involved coffee.

(I’m the questioner–Linda is the answeree)

Q: Your character becomes proactive, in terms of psychologically. She begins to face her fear. Is this autobiographical in some way? How does facing our fear—whether it’s a gunman, breast cancer, or anything else—change a person? As I said before this is not autobiographical in regard to the breast cancer experience, but beyond that we all have are own fears. I read somewhere that there are only two significant emotions: love and fear.

Fear is paralyzing. Hudson Catalina loses her mother when she is fourteen years old.

Emotionally she becomes immobilized. On the surface she carries on, graduates from high school, goes to college, becomes a teacher, gets married, has children and not until her daughter is born and then her diagnosis does she begin to face the suppressed emotions of her youth. Life often bumps along allowing us to bury significant experiences and generally we do not deal with them until there is a collision, a forced head-on crash of some kind. When the moment arrives that any one of us faces our fears, like Hudson in Belly of the Whale, there is a shift into change. As an example, in an excerpt from Belly of the Whale, Hudson Catalina in regard to her cancer and the killer, Buddy Baker:

“Breast cancer and Buddy Baker were one and the same, both trying to suck me down. Yesterday, I gave in to cancer, gave myself over to a disease that had taken me into the bowels of despair, into the belly of hell; a disease that had no sympathy, no compassion and no purpose other than to kill me. Now I was confronted by Buddy, a black-hooded murderer, another kind of killer who had taken me hostage, who had no mercy, no kindness and no other purpose than to take my life. Buddy and cancer wanted a sign, wanted me to concede my battle with each, to fly the flag of defeat.I glared at him. I would not surrender to either.”

Q: There’s a lot of talk about The Law of Attraction these days. I’ve read some of the prominent writers and speakers in the field, and I’ve heard them say that we attract everything—even violence or illness. We attract it for two reasons: 1) in order to learn from it, and 2) we attract it because we have unhealthy patterns/beliefs, and don’t realize we are attracting such negativity.

This sort of thinking goes against the old adage: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

While I don’t feel that you—or I—need to make a definitive stand for or against the Law of Attraction, how do you feel about it, in terms of someone who contracts cancer, such as your character, and then winds up in a dangerous, life threatening situation?What can other people who are in real life traumas and dramas glean from this? A: The Law of Attraction is just another name for fear. If a person is negative then negative happens. Why- me-God people can not see the flip side…the glass half full. Why do some people take on this kind of behavior? I believe it is out of fear. Fear becomes their protection, the negativity of their attitude is the barrier created against life. Inevitably, I believe this kind of person attracts the very things they fear.

Now, what of the “good” people the ones that die young, the ones that suffer, the ones that are taken from us too soon? I have no answer; I believe there is no answer, only that there is a reason, a higher purpose to everything and that we are players on the stage of life and we do not write the script. Perhaps the good folk who attract illness or violence are role models. They are the teachers. We, like Hudson Catalina, learn from them. We learn how to die, we learn how to live. In a final excerpt from Belly of the Whale speaking of Willy Wu and Ruby Desmond:“Ruby Desmond and Willy Wu were teachers, the kind of teachers that cross paths and impact lives forever.” ~Linda Merlino

I hope you too, ban “don’t” from your vocabulary.

May you attract joy and find sweetness in each day.

~Carol D. O’Dell

author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,

available on Amazon and in most bookstores

Kunati Publishing

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Join Author and Presenter Carol D. O’Dell

January 11th and 12th

Floricda Association of Professional Geriatric
Managers Retreat
“Breakfast With Carol: Finding and Keeping Your Everyday Joy”

Sarasota, Florida


January 14th

Amelia Island Book Club

Author Chat



January 19th, 10am

Florida Writer’s Association Meeting in the Ancient City
St. Augustine, Florida


January 28-April 4th, Wednesdays 1-3pm

University of North Florida
Lifelong Learning Institute

Neptune Beach Community Center
Memoir Class (Carol D. O’Dell, instructor)


 Feb 1, 2008

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Conference

Savannah, Ga.

followed by a booksigning at

Books A Million

8108 Abercorn St
Savannah, GA 31406
(912) 925-8112



Feb. 2, 2008

Caregiving Conference

Orange Park, Florida



Feb. 9th, 2008

North Florida Writers


Wesconnett Library on 103rd St.

Jacksonville, Florida


Feb. 23, 2008

Booksignng at

Borders Bookstore

6837 W Newberry Rd
Gainesville, FL 32605
(352) 331-2722




Miami Dade Library Talk



March 12th, 6pm

Voice of America Radio
Healing the Grieving Heart with Gloria Horsley

March 29, 2008

Atlanta Writers Club

Proposal Workshop



Register through www.atlantawritersclub.org

Location: tba

Check Back for More Events!



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