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Archive for the ‘chaos’ Category

Imagine a battlefield. People are wounded. Some are screaming in pain. Others are close to death. It’s easy to freak-out, but as a caregiver in the midst of your own war zone, you can’t afford to panic. You are the triage nurse. You have to float above the scene and figure out how to not only care for one, but manage many. This doesn’t mean you don’t care, that you don’t wish you could stop right there and cry or scream or freeze and go numb. You can’t. Not now. Not yet.

You may not recognize that you’re living in a state of panic (or drama) because it’s been so long that it’s your new norm. You do what’s right in front of you. The person who screams the loudest, demands the most gets your attention first. The one who needs an MRI, a refill on meds, is in the hospital can pull all your thoughts and energy toward them. The problem is, someone else, the person who is quiet, who is suffering emotionally, who isn’t “in your face” may be the one who is in the most danger. Being in a sandwich generation is common, and it’s so, so hard to choose between your child and an aging parent–and every day, every situation is slightly different.

Maybe it’s your marriage that’s taking the brunt of all your caregiving. Maybe it’s your child or grandchild who needs your guidance. Or maybe it’s you and your health who has stepped aside too many times, who doesn’t want to bring attention to the fact that you’re cramming painkillers (think about that word for a moment) because your back is in spasms. Ignoring and/or denying what’s right in front of you is easy when you tell yourself you don’t have time to do it all, but there are things you’ll never get back (your years with your child, your health can’t always recover).

If you’ve ever watched a great medical show you know how the scene plays out–the one who is in charge–who makes the tough decisions is why in the end everyone gets cared for. They slice through the noise, through the fights, the family members pitching fits, and they zero in one what has to get done first. It’s their ability to detach that makes them so effective.

There’s nothing like a cool head in a chaotic situation.

Here’s a short caregiving triage checklist:

  • Recognize the situation
  • Prioritize what needs to get done/who needs your initial attention
  • Make a plan
  • Get others to help
  • Recognize that you won’t catch everything and accept that
  • Don’t get sucked into one person’s drama
  • Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
  • Remember that sometimes all you can offer is connection–holding hands, a comforting word
  • When it’s over, assess and process–it’s important that you do feel, you do acknowledge what you and others have gone through

It may sound cold–when it’s your mother, your partner, your child, but it’s not. Everyone will feel safer and calmer when you’re not in caregiver freak-out mode. We don’t always have the luxury of falling apart right on the spot, but it’s important to step away–into your closet, in the privacy of your car–and feel what you’re going through. To feel your losses, your fears, to find someone you can confide in, and to let go and let it all out. Choose those moments and take them. Holding it together all the time is beyond exhausting and all those emotions (worry, guilt, resentment, fear) will leak out in the most inappropriate ways–so when the initial full-blown crisis begins to subside a bit, step out and give yourself permission to feel. 

 

 

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Caregivers,

Do you have a place to go?

A sanctuary?

If not, it may be a big part as to why you’re stressed and resentful.

Caregiving invades your space, your head, your time–you don’t always get to say when you’re needed.

I pulled many a “late night shift” with my mom.

My mother had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and not only did she have Sundowning, a condition in which people with Alzheimer’s get more aggitated and have more energy as the sun goes down–and on into the night, but she simply didn’t need much sleep–or her body wouldn’t let her sleep. (Here’s a post I wrote about my experience with sundowning).

It’s not like we could make it up during the day.

I was dragging. That made me miserable, fussy, and I tended to overeat. Why? Because studies have now shown that obesity is linked with lack of sleep. We tend to munch all day because it gives us something to do, causes our brains to perk up, and since sugar is almost always involved, we’re pumping ourselves up like we’re climbing the highest point of a rollercoaster–and then plummeting to exhaustion.

Maybe what you need isn’t to just lie down. 

It’s a renewal of your spirit you’re hungry and longing for.

You don’t have to be religious to need a sanctuary.

I love that I happen to live in a bird sanctuary area–the Timucuan Preserve. I love the thought that animals are held as sacred and that an area is designated for them.

But shouldn’t we humans create our own sanctuaries? What exactly is a sanctuary?

The word, “sanctuary” means:

Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) –The spelling has changed since then.

Sanctuary\Sanc"tu*a*ry\, n.; pl. Sanctuaries. [OE. seintuarie, OF. saintuaire, F. sanctuaire, fr. L. sanctuarium, from sanctus sacred, holy. See Saint.]
   A sacred place; a consecrated spot; a holy and inviolable
   site.
Two of the definitions include:
c) A house consecrated to the worship of God; a place where
       divine service is performed; a church, temple, or other
       place of worship. A place to keep sacred objects.
   (d) A sacred and inviolable asylum; a place of refuge and
       protection; shelter; refuge; protection.
Operative words: Refuge. Sacred. Shelter. Protection.

How to Create a Sanctuary:

What is sacred or holy to you?

  • Gather a few objects–a photo, seashells, stones, your mother’s broach, your dad’s pocket watch, your baby picture.
  • Grab a basket or a box and walk around your home and hard. Gather anything that interests you. Your sacred objects will change over time. Just get it rolling for now.

Find a place:

  • Where in your home or yard feels “safe?”
  • Where can you have some privacy? Where can you relax?
  • Place a table, a desk, a chair, a cover at this place. If it’s outside then create a box of your sacred items that you can carry out with you.
  • You might also want to include a journal and pen, micro-cassette recorder, a drawing pad, candles, a rosary–any object that helps you figure out life.
  • Go frivolous~ don’t think a sanctuary is all serious! Take your ipod along. Dance! Paint your toenails and read a magazine! Navel gaze. You may just need some extended down time–staring into space.
  • There are no rules. Do what you feel like doing. We’re taught not to trust our feelings. That if we got to do what we felt like, we’d all be drug addicts, cheaters who eat nothing but Oreos. Trust yourself. Do what feels right. Sleep. Stare. Rant. Cry. Sleep some more.
  • Your sanctuary is off limits to everyone else. Make your boundaries. No interruptions. No phone calls. Unless there’s blood and lots of it–you are not to be called away from your most important work–taking care of you.
  • You’ll be surprised, but your family and friends will respect your space–if you do. This is a great example for your children.
  • Don’t expect “results.”
  • This isn’t a magic box. It’s a place to rest or even to rejuvinate. Recenter. Calm down. Work things out. Place no expectations. This isn’t like Weight Watchers for the soul. You don’t have to weigh in and measure if you’ve gained or lost since last week. Just be.
  • You may need to use your sanctuary to work out your anger, hurt, and resentment. One thing I do when I’m really upset is to write it all down on scraps of paper, say it outloud, and then burn it. It helps to watch your anger turn to ash.

Pick a Sanctuary Location:

  • Some people like clearing out a closet and placing a chair, pillows, and a small table and light in their “prayer closet.” Oprah recently featured a sanctuary closet that was really decked out. 
  • Others like to go outside–they hide away in the nook of the yard and get the benefit of nature to heal them.
  • One friend keeps her “special box” she calls it in the car. She literally walks out the door and goes and sits in her car. Her family is less likely to find her there and she feels safe and cocooned. She can scream, cry or laugh in her sound-proof sanctuary.
  • For some, it’s in the bathroom. They retreat eat night to the tub–they keep candles, soaps, and a journal on hand. They know that being naked will most likely keep people away! Hey! Whatever works!
  • Be like my cat and change your sanctuary every once in a while.

Cats are great to observe. They seem to make their spots seem sacred. My cat picks a spot and goes there after breakfast each morning. He gives himself a luxurious bath, folds in his little paws and I swear, if cats could pray, I’d think he was praying. Then, he takes a nap.

This week, his spot is under my birth grandmother’s rocking chair in my bedroom. He tends to pick a spot and goes there for 3-4 weeks before picking another spot. Recently, it’s been in the back of my closet–that’s when he doesn’t want to be found. A few weeks ago, it was on a chair next to the dining room windows so he could enjoy the sun. I knew where he was, but he’s also quiet and hidden away enough to not invite attention. Smart cat.

What Do I Do in My Sanctuary?

First, let’s address what you DON’T do.

  • You don’t take care of anybody but you.
  • You don’t stay busy just to avoid what’s bothering you.
  • You don’t have your thoughts constantly interrupted with the chatter of life.
  • You don’t allow yourself to be bombarded with the demands of every day life.

This is What You DO:

Rest. Think. Imagine. Work out hurts. Cry. Zone out. Learn (maybe take a book?) Find your joy.

If it feels odd at first because you’ve never done anything like this, then let it feel odd. Your sanctuary practice will be even more necessary at the end of your loved one’s life–and especially during your time of grief. Create this space now so that you’ll have a place to run to when you really need it.

Like my cat, I change my locale every once in a while.

Right now, it’s on my back porch on my parent’s glider (they had it since I was adopted in 1965). I have a stack of books on one arm, and I recently bought a big cushion–in case I get sleepy. About 9am you’ll find me there with my 2nd cup of coffee, my journal, a few magazines, a no doubt, a couple of dogs by my feet.

I’m a Guy and This Sounds Lame:

Does it?

My daddy had a sanctuary. He called it a garage. He built it himself. He left for his garage every morning after breakfast (he was retired at this point) and after his game shows. He putzed, worked on a broken lamp, put in a small bathroom. He listened to talk radio. For the most part, he was alone–although a few friends would come and visit. Mama and I came down but never really stayed long. It felt like we were intruding.

He’d come back to the house with a smile. He’d had his time to himself. He smelled of sawdust and linseed oil–and peanuts and Coke he kept in a cooler to sustain him throughout the day. He came back relaxed because he allowed himself this break. He didn’t have to listen to Mama nag or me talk incessantly. He came back ready to be a dad and husband. Smart man.

Caregiving stress is a real issue with real ramifications to your health and realtionships. Sometimes we unknowingly contribute to our own stress by always being on call. Sometimes it’s a power thing we’re unaware of, sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s just a plain ole’ bad habit we can’t figure out how to break.

You need a sanctuary–caregiving or not.

You need to know that the world won’t fall apart because you take a half an hour and pull inward.

Like Daddy, you’ll come back refreshed.

~Carol D. O’Dell

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

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

Family Advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated blog at www.OpentoHope.com

Kunati Publishers, www.kunati.com/mothering

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Different personalities handle life, death, and caregiving differently.

We all have gifts to offer the world and to offer as a caregiver. 

Stop trying to be something you’re not.

Stop trying to be your mother.

There are things you’re good at things you aren’t.

Accept this and let go of the guilt. 

By examining your basic personality traits, you can capitalize on your strengths and accept what you can–and can’t do.

There are several types of personality tests such as the Briggs-Meyers and Kiersey Temprement scale. 

Let’s start with a simple one first. It’s actually based on the four humors of Hippocrates and is called Personality Plus by author and speaker Florence Littauer.

Here’s an easy breakdown of the Four Basic Personality Types:

Choleric: This is the commander-type. Cholerics are dominant, strong, decisive, stubborn and even arrogant.

Melancholy: This is the mental-type. Their typical behaviour involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives, and general analysis of facts. ‘

Sanguine: This is the social-type. They enjoy fun, socialising, chatting, telling stories – and are fond of promising the world, because that’s the friendly thing to do.

Phlegmatic: This is the flat-type. They are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable and relaxed. Desiring a peaceful environment above all else.

Positives and Negatives

None of these types is specifically described as positive or negative – each having upsides and downsides. The book makes it clear that the characteristics are for observing and identifying, rather than judging.

  • A Choleric is focused on getting things done, but can run rough-shod over others. They are decisive and stubborn, but are also natural leaders and like check lists and getting things done. They can also be charismatic and dynamic and tend to “take the air out of the room.”
  • A Melancholy is a planner, making sure things happen, although sometimes they can paralyze themselves with over-analysis. Lists and “doing things the right way” are characteristics of this personality type. While quiet, they are also strong and stay on task. They are the ponderers and can also be great artists and enjoy being alone. They tend to make their own happiness and are easy to get along with.
  • A Sanguine gets on well with people and can get others excited about issues, but cannot always be relied upon to get things done. They love interacting with others and play the role of the entertainer in group interactions. They have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. They are also inspiring and charasmatic and light up a room.
  • A Phlegmatic is neutral – they tend not to actively upset people, but their indifference may frustrate people. They try not to make decisions, and generally go for the status quo. Phlegmatics are peace lovers and bring a sense of calmness to situations. They avoid stress whenever possible and are great at coping skills and solving problems–if you seek them out because they’re not likely to assert themselves. They don’t like being the center of attention.

Do you see yourself anywhere?

I do. I’m a mix of sanguine and choleric and with a dash of melancholy.

I’m one step away from being a party-hardy, but I do have my contemplative side.

I also see myself, sad to say, not delivering on all of my promises. Mostly because I promise too much.

I can entertain a room and love telling stories, planning an event, and rallying a cause.

By  knowing this about myself, I’m able to recognize when I am, or I’m not at my best.

I was also able to assess my mother’s personality–not hard to do–choleric and then some.

I could see why we butted heads. Two extroverts, entertainers, both of us know-it-alls–under one roof. No wonder we had a few fireworks (cannons) go off. No wonder we needed to get out and be with other people–only caregiving and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly a great mix for mingling in a crowd.

Still, I could watch my mother’s face light up whenever we had company.

I can still see her long, elegant hands (she always had great nails) expressing a point.

Even her natural speaking voice had a certain cadence to it. You listened when she talked.

She liked herself, and that makes others like you as well. Some people found this annoying, but perhaps they felt threatened by such a formidable woman. While I’m at it, I can’t fail to mention that she was BOSSY, irritating, and demanding! She wouldn’t mind me saying these things because she wouldn’t consider them a detriment. That’s how things get done, she’d say.

In the end, I have to believe that I was able to offer my mother the homecoming she desired. She died at home, with me by her side and with hospice to guide us.  I fought exhaustion and doubt because I have the personality to go and go–if I believe in something. We stuck together–through fights, medical setbacks, and long, dark nights.

Her memorial service had a presentation of her dynamic life–as a minister, mother, wife, radio and television evangelist, and I was able to give her this because I understood her and how she would want to be remembered. I used my gift to tell stories to remember her. That’s why I wrote Mothering Mother, to capture who she was, who we were.

Learning about your personality and others can help when things get rough.

When I get out of my element, I say that “my circuit breakers are popping.”

That’s when I’ve created or become a part of a too stressful situation and I begin to lose it.

I forget things, drop the ball, the house gets totally chaotic–I”m even later than usual, and I get fussy.

I mean really fussy. I’m usually a laid back, happy go lucky gal, and when I get mean–something’s off.

I know this about me, and it really helped in dealing with caregiving stress.

I knew what to watch out for. I knew what I could give my mother and my family–and what I couldn’t.

You can’t go changing yourself, so don’t try. Not that we shouldn’t improve, but don’t plan to go out and get a lobotamy.

You pretty much have to go with the Popeye motto, “I am what I am.”

So accept your basic personality and learn to make the most of it.

For us Sanguine’s and Cholerics–hey, we can throw a great party and get people involved in a cause. We can mmake people smile and laugh, make a room look gorgeous, a meal, sumptous, and call up an army in time of need. Those are good things. But don’t ask me to scrub the little square bathroom tiles cause it’s not happenin’~

What we can’t do for you is pay attention to every detail, plan for every pitfall, or deliver on our gazillion, hair-brained ideas. We do care when we let people down, at least I do.

What this means is that we need each other.

I need those quiet, consistent friends to help me stay on course.

I need a phlegmatic to calm me down when I get too worked up.

I need a melancholy daughter to ask me how I’m doing, what I need–and then take the time to hear me out. I need my choleric daughter to organize my office while I listen to her fume about the injustices of the world.

I need my phlegmatic husband to pay the bills, put money in our 401K and run my beautiful website he designed. Does he drive me crazy with his skepticism and practicalities? Sure does. But my kite-flying high ideas drive him bonkers too. Still, we make a good team.

Isn’t it wonderful how we can look around us and see how we all fit together?

Caregiving is tough, but no matter which personality type you have, you bring gifts to the table, to your relationship. It is no mistake that you are you mother’s daughter, your husband’s spouse, that your sister happens to be so opposite of you sometimes you want to scream–and then other times she balances you out, and smooths over situations in a way you couldn’t have.

By understanding better who you are, where your weak spots are, what you’re good at–you can offer your loved one something unique and just what they need.

Accept your personality and your relationships as they are meant to be.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Family Adviser, Caring.com

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

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

www.Caring.com

www.opentohope.com

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 So what’s your dirty little caregiving vice? 

Everyone has them and caregivers are no exception.

 

Caregivers are under enormous amounts of stress, so it’s only natural to turn to something that’s comforting. The other danger is that caregivers spend an enormous amount of time at home and alone–a breeding ground for vices.

 

I’m all for comfort, but what if you’re so exhausted, heartbroken, and numb that you don’t realize you’re hurting yourself?

 

I’m going to list a few dirty little vices and let you pick your own.

 

I’m not judging, I promise. There were times I was a mess during the years I cared for my mom, and I have to admit, I went overboard on a few of vices. You try  being a sandwich generation-er going on three hours sleep, staying involved with three teenage daughters, somehow being a fit wife, and caring for a cantankerous mom with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with no outside family help.

 

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. Feel free to fire back.

 

Dirty Little Vices No One Wants to Talk About:

 

·     Overeating/binging

·     Sleeping pills, or sneaking a few of mom or dad’s meds

·     Pot–available for cancer patients, a toke for you, a toke for…

·     Excessive television or Internet surfing

·     Online gambling

·     Inappropriate online relationships (chat rooms, e-affairs)

·     Porn

·     Hoarding (includes pets, papers, books, food)

·     Pulling your hair out and other obsessive/compulsive behaviors

·     Excessive cleaning

·     Screaming, belittling verbal abuse

·     Closet smoking (no one knows you do this or you’ve increased your amount)

·     Closet drinking (sneaking booze in OJ, Coke, sipping on it all day)

·     Excessive shopping (online counts)

·     Incessant, derogatory, negative thoughts

 

I sense some of you are flinching about now.

She didn’t say pot and porn, did she?  

That’s exactly what I said.  Why?

 

Because this is just life, it’s just people, and life gets tough and we’re hurting and we fall back on some old pattern, something we thought we had already defeated. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it’s just that many of these choices/vices start out small, but they can escalate into an addiction and really screw up an otherwise great life.

 

 

Let’s paint a picture, because without a visual, it’s easy to just discount this stuff and tell people “just quit doing that!” Not so easy.

 

I know of someone who eats an entire box of Ritz crackers drizzled in butter and brown sugar every night after everyone goes to bed (I wish she hadn’t told me that ’cause that’s one I hadn’t thought of)

 

I know of someone whose house is covered from ceiling to floor (every room but the kitchen and den) with boxes and bins stuffed with items they’ve bought and never used–including the garage and a huge storage building.

 

I know someone who has 42 cats because they make her smile every day since she can’t leave the house.

 

I know of someone whose house is lined with groceries left in bags that cover her floor and all surfaces–all the time.

 

Stewing in dangerous negative thoughts of suicide and depression can be as detrimental, if not more so than popping pills. Our own thoughts are powerful drugs.

 

My heart aches. We’re trying to fill a void, that’s all.

 

 

What’s the definition of an addiction?

 

A behavioral pattern characterized by compulsion, loss of control, and continued repetition of a behavior or activity spite of adverse consequences. (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)

 

Addiction was a term used to describe a devotion, attachment, dedication, inclination, etc. The term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual’s health, mental state or social life. (Wikipedia )

 

Interesting tidbit about the word is that Addiction, as a word, is a noun which in modern sense was first attested in 1906, in reference to opium (there is an isolated instance from 1779, with ref. to tobacco). The first use of the adjective addict (with the meaning of “delivered, devoted”) was in 1529 and comes from Latin addictus, pp. of addicere (“deliver, yield, devote,” from ad-, “to” + dicere, “say, declare”).[1

 

 

I also heard a minister say that the portion of the Lord’s Prayer would be better understood if we said,

 

 I promise you, I’m not harping on your case just to embarrass you. I’ve hit many of the vices listed (except for obsessive cleaning, that’s not my particular downfall). The last thing I want is for the stresses of caregiving to ruin your life. Caregiving, while challenging beyond belief, also has many benefits (It does, I promise, just hang in there).

 

 

So Now that You’ve Identified a Couple of Your Vices, What Do

You Do?

Awareness is key. That’s done. I picked at your wound and you may be bleeding a bit. That’s okay.

Sit with it a few days.

 

Now that you’re busted, you can begin to make better choices. Take a deep breath. Be relieved that someone named it. Said it.

It’s uncovered and you don’t have to hide any more.

 

Ask yourself what you believe: “I believe that if I eat this tub of icecream, I’ll… Feel satisfied? Not feel empty? I believe that if I get in shape, then I have to…date again? Will draw attention to myself?

 

Trust that if you ask, help will appear. The universe (which happens to mean, “One song,” I love that!) wants you whole and well!

 

Although I’m not always a big Dr. Phil fan (his show’s gone too Jerry Springer for me), I like one thing he said:

 

(Paraphrased) “To get rid of an old habit, you have to crowd it out with a new one.”

 

His example was a man who dropped off his dry cleaning for the week at the gym every Friday after he picked it up.

That meant he didn’t have his work clothes at home and had to go to the gym to get dressed. It was the only way to make himself get there–and once he was there, he’d exercise.

 

You might have to go cold turkey. Ditch the pot (or get someone else to administer it to your loved one). Unplug the computer and put it in the closet. Ask someone to help you purge your house. Take the excess to a shelter so you’ll feel good about helping someone else. Crowd out the old vice. Take a class. Take up painting, walking, and bridge. Return to your faith or choose a new one–become a part of a local community to gain strength and support.

 

Vices breed and brood in isolation. The less you’re isolated the healthier you’ll become.

 

Ask yourself what is it that this vice fills? Boredom? Restlessness? Frustration? How can you fill it in another way?

 

Join a support group–even online. Talk to others and don’t keep it a secret. You’re only as sick as your secrets.

 

Be patient. This might not be easy, but each time we to try to kick a vice, we gain new coping skills. You don’t go back to square one.

 

Most of all, forgive yourself. It’s been tough, but it’s time for the excuses to end.

 

 

Our dirty little vices don’t need to destroy our great, big,

wonderful lives.

 

 

~Carol D. O’Dell, family advisor at www.Caring.com

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

Available on Amazon

 

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

 

 

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Caregiving isn’t exactly synonymous with a spicy love life–not until now. Maybe a passionate love life is just what the doctor ordered…

 

Dr. Christine Northrup, Oprah’s gynecologist on speed dial and author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and the Wisdom of Menopause suggests that you spend 30 minutes three time a week in “self love.”

(Yes, that’s right. We’re talking about the M word)

Now, I can only speak for myself here, but unless “self love” includes eating a bag of Dove chocolates, painting my toenails and thumbing through a magazine, I’m going to have about 27 minutes to kill.

 

It’s not like I have to woo myself or assure myself that I’ll respect me in the morning…

 

As a caregiver, mother, daughter, sandwich generationer, pet “mom,” I have to tell you, thirty uninterrupted minutes is hard to come by.
(pah dum,dum)

 

I figure I can blog about this if Oprah can discuss it at 4:00 in the afternoon while I’m making chicken pot pie.

Besides, a healthy love life is important–and most of us would rather “play with others,” so let’s take the leap.

 

Why bother? You haven’t got time? You have no drive?

You’re beyond exhausted? You’ll deal with “that” later?

 

Here’s why it’s crucial: 

 

Being a passionate person spills over into everything in your life–how you dress, walk, what you choose to eat, how generous you are with your time and energies, how affectionate you are to all living creatures–not to mention the effects giving and receiving love has on your heart, immune system, psychological, emotional and spiritual foundation.

 

Here’s a few tips for revving up the ole’ love life for couples who are also caregivers, raise kids, and walk dogs. Believe me, I’ve been there–forty pounds heavier than I am today–sleep deprived, irritable, and pulled in a thousand directions–and living with a loved one with Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly conducive to candles and teddys.

 

Mom’s Home—Quick, Lock the Bedroom Door!Enjoy Your Relationship Even if Your Mom

Lives With You

· Put a lock on your bedroom door—and use it
· Sneak around—intimacy doesn’t just have to happen in the bedroom. Be playful! Flirt!
· Nix the old t-shirt and sweats and wear attractive PJs—they don’t have to be overly sexy to be attractive.
· Stay affectionate–even if you have to make yourself at first—call each other during the day just for a “Hi, and I love you,” hug and kiss hello and goodbye, cuddle on the couch, call each other affectionate names/ take baths or showers together (you do remember those?)
. Take short walks together—even 5 or 10 minutes of fresh air is invigorating and gives you a chance to talk
· Plan a surprise—sneak out to the yard after dark to cuddle on a quilt under the stars with cups of hot chocolate
. Laugh! Rent a comedy, pop some popcorn and sit ont the couch together–not in dueling recliners
· Don’t sweat it if you aren’t in a lovey-dove mood–caregiving is stressful and there are seasons in life. Remember though, a healthy love life is healing, satisfying and stress relieving—and better for you than a bottle of Scotch

  • If you’re a care partner, you have also face physical challenges. Talk, cuddle, find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t think you have to “go all the way.” Find your own way.

Being a caregiver, care receiver, or care partner doesn’t mean you–or your loved one is dead. Unearthing those needs and desires means you’re still alive. Love and passion are vital.

Say “yes” to LIFE every chance you get.

And don’t forget–holding hands is still pretty darn great.

Happy V 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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Chaos. Bad Connotations, right? Not necessarily.

I recently reviewed a book on Amazon, “The Perfect Mess.” It’s about rejecting the need to be perfect and neat and trade it in for more creativity and trust. I get that. I’m one of the UNneat. My mantra is, “Organized People Are Just Too Lazy To Look For Things.”

If you ring my doorbell, I’ll greet you with a sheepish “I’m sorry my house isn’t perfect,” but if you’re not looking down your nose, I’ll invite you in, make you a cup of hot tea or pour you a glass of wine and we’ll chat about art, faith, lack of faith, good food, history, astronomy, who knows, then I’ll whip something up for dinner. But you’ll have to overlook my office, and maybe some dishes soaking in the sink, and the stack (stacks with an s) of books (with lots of s’s) next to the couch, bed, chair…I’m not into perfection. I don’t have time for it. I have better things to do–like writing, finding places to speak about my book, Mothering Mother, cooking, gardening, painting–anything other than mind-numbing endless whine of the vacuum. So, I’m in yoga the other day (at Y Yoga–hey Liz) and my instructor tells me that we need to create MUSCLE CHAOS. My Favorite Martian antennas raised on my little head.

After class, I asked her to explain:“Push your body past its norm–shake it up, do something different or longer and your body senses “chaos” That chaos creates new synapses and your muscles respond/sense that something’s up, go on alert, and DELIVERS”   So, I got to thinking. The same principle works for artists, creators, (human beings of all sorts). If we only give our body, mind, spirit, relationships–what it expects, it will in turn, deliver the expected.

How do we get more? CREATE CHAOS.

Liz (my yoga teacher) tells me yesterday (as we were talking about the various and amazing uses of the ball) that “INSTABILITY CREATES STABILITY.” Antennas. She explains: “As you wobble on the ball, your body seeks balance, and by throwing it off, it fires those neurons to seek new/deeper/stronger balance. It’s on alert again. That’s why our muscles shake when we haven’t used them, just like we tend to get nervous writing about things that are still a bit mysterious to us–INSTABILITY CREATES STABILITY.” 

My writing mentor, Tamara Sellman and I continued the discussion: “Most people avoid chaos. Life has gotten so (#&% orderly/neat/perfect that it’s downright scary And yet, we abhor perfection–It’s okay to be rough around the edges and true to yourself. That’s more authentic than being competent and perfect as a stylist. That’s why we look at people who have had too much plastic surgery, and although mathematically they’re “perfect”—it’s odd. We don’t trust it–it’s actually unappealing, cold, sterile, harsh…freaky. That’s why so many great models, actors, etc. have “odd” faces. Beautiful and quirky      Nature is perfect in its imperfection. Why else would snowflakes and leaves be unique and yet beautiful?    

Wabi-Sabi–beauty found in imperfection.  

Glass of wine, anyone?  

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