Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

There’s no way to stay in a long-term relationship and not have issues.

Hurts, frustrations, “you weren’t there for me,” “I can’t believe you said that, betrayals and disappointments are all a part of being human.

Whether you’re in a committed relationship, married, have children, adult children, siblings, and even friends must eventually hit this road block in their relationship.

Yet most people don’t speak up. They get hurt or mad and they don’t say anything–not to the person who they’re mad or hurt at–maybe they complain to someone else, or just stuff it.

The relationship begins to wane. It feels like work. You grow apart and you don’t even know why.

We tend to fight with our spouses/significant others the most.

But we’re not good at it.

If you do fight, you use dirty tactics. Accusations, you always, you never, you did this, you didn’t do that, and before long you’ve got a tangled history together and whatever issues you had in the beginning–seeds of doubt, hurt, mistrust–they’re all there playing over and over in each new scenario. 

This can cause deep and lifelong issues.

Divorces are so common that they’re barely a blip in a conversation to say a friend got a divorce. No one really asks or wants to know why–and yet those who go through it know that it’s devastating on the heart, head, pocketbook, and most importantly, how you perceive yourself.

How do you stop this cycle?

Two easy steps.

Before I share with you what they are, let me assure you I’m learning how to do this myself.

I have grown daughters and I really don’t want them to hate their mom. I don’t want them to complain about me for years–to everybody else but to me–and then for us to wonder in my old age what went wrong. I don’t want their emotional pockets filled with boulders of hurt, disappointment and frustration.

So, I took a big deep gulp and called one of my daughters today.

I apologized for an issue I’d heard was bothering her. I took accountability.

Then, I asked her that in the future she tell me when she’s hurt or frustrated with me.

I told her that I had blamed my own mother for emotional “crap: for years. I had griped and whined and didn’t let go over things that really didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. I should have let her off the hook and I didn’t. Eventually yes, we came to a place of peace but I carried around those stones for far too long.

I asked my daughter to come to me. I gave her permission to approach me when I’m irritating.

I told her that I want to become a better person–a better mother–and how can I do that if she doesn’t let me know what’s hurtful or frustrating? I told her that I dearly loved her and I wanted a healthy relationship with her.

It took her off guard. Most people I know don’t have this conversation often enough–if at all.

I learned it primarily from life–from living long enough to have a few regrets. I don’t want regrets, hurts, and disappointments to plague my life and mind. I want to lighter, free-er and more joyful–and I can’t get there without letting go of a few things along the way.

I was crying by the time I got through. It was vulnerable and scary–but I really, really want to have a good relationship on my daughters based on respect, love, and tenderness toward one another. I also need to be thier role model as a woman, wife, mother, and friend.

IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP IN TWO EASY STEPS:

1.     I ask you, give you permission to tell me when I”m being difficult, frustrating, or I’ve hurt or disappointed you.

2.     The easiest way I know to do this is to start the conversation by….”It really hurt when you _________.” I felt so _______________ when you did that. Next time please _______________.

**********************

It sounds so simple, but it’s so scary!

I also told her that if she didn’t come out and say something by the end of 90 days I was going to ask her because I’m sure that I can irritate anybody by the end of 90 days.

Author and speaker Jack Canfield wrote about doing this in his book, The Success Principles. I would eat that book, digest it and live by it if I could. It’s such a Bible of personal integrity, purpose, and meaning that’s rare, particularly in the media world.

Jack said that he asks his wife at the end of each week (as well as his co-workers–and he owns a MAJOR company) on a scale of 1-10, how did he do this week–as a husband? Boss?

After that he asks, “How can I make it a 10?”

That takes guts. I’m impressed.

We’re so afraid of being criticized that we don’t realize that’s how we grow and change.

Whether you’re a caregiver, an adult child, an elder parent, a spouse or sibling, I encourage you to take this little two-step script, print it off if you have to, and have this very important conversation. It’s vital when you’re dealing with end of life issues, when you return to care for your family and all your tangled history is in your face and your life again. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

And it doesn’t mean everything can be fixed. Or that you should try to make someone happy all the time.

This is meant to open the dialogue. To understand each other–not as a giant wish list. Sometimes boundaries and respect are what’s really the goal.

Let’s heal old wounds. Forgive. And make new choices about how we treat each other.

I plan to follow through. This wasn’t a “Mom’s feeling all sentimental” moment. I want to brave enough and big enough to forge healthy relationships.

I want to be so light by the time I die I just float into eternity. (sappy, I know!)

~Carol D. O’Dell

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

available on Amazon

Family Advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated blog at www.OpentoHope.com

www.kunati.comKunati Publishers, Winner of ForeWord’s Small Publisher of the Year Award

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In most families, there is a primary caregiver no matter how many siblings there are. Some try to divvy up the responsibilities, but it’s rarely equal distribution because of differing people’s lives—jobs, distance, abilities, etc. In many families, one sibling gets the brunt of the responsibility.

 

And even if you agreed to it, over time, resentment can build.

 

I know of so many families who are torn apart because of this very issue.

Why won’t they help out?

 

Here are a few reasons why siblings won’t participate: they live further away, they can’t (or won’t) quit their job or cut back on hours to help, they have other responsibilities such as children and already feel overwhelmed, they say you’re controlling and they’ve just given up, they’re scared and don’t know how to help and think you’re more qualified/competent, they’re lazy, selfish and just don’t want to be bothered (or so it seems).  

 

While any or all of those above reasons may apply, you still need—and deserve help.

 

Where are you? 

 

  • How do I get my sibling to help?
  • My sibling refuses to help and I’m mad as hell.
  • My parents still favor the uninvolved sibling over me.
  • My siblings say I’m controlling and they don’t like my decisions, but they’re not involved enough to help me work it out.
  • My loved one is gone and I can’t get over this hurt and resentment. our relationship is ruined.

 

 

How do I get my sibling to help?

 

 

SAY you need help. Be specific.

Ask them to do one thing at a time.

Tell them this isn’t fair and that distance, fear, raising a family isn’t an excuse and there are still ways to pitch in.

Give them one “job” at a time, it gives them something to focus on.

Use your controlled anger to INSIST they find a way to help out—monetarily, by hiring help, by buying groceries or your parent’s meds—anything tangible is a start.

 

Or, realize your anger is only hurting you and learn to accept them “as is.” Consider your role as a caregiver while exhausting and frustrating, a privilege, and those who choose not to participate are missing out on something really profound.

 

My sibling won’t help, and I’m mad as hell.

 

Use your anger and say loud and clear what you need, or use it as energy (jet fuel) to do all you need to do in order to survive. But know that at some point, you will need to let it go. Anger is jet fuel, but if you drink it, consume it, steep in it, it will poison you. Do you really want to spend your precious time on earth mad as hell? This isn’t what caregiving is meant to do. It’s meant to heal, teach, and guide us.

 

My parent favors my other sibling.

 

There’s a scene in Meet Joe Black that I love. The man who the devil is going to take is having a lavish, over the top birthday party given to him by one of his two daughters. It’s clearly obvious throughout the film that he favors his other daughter—the one not giving him the party.  He asks his daughter (party giver) why she loves him so much?

 

She answers: “Everyone has a favorite, and you happen to be mine.”

She had made peace with this. She loved freely and easily and didn’t demand exact reciprocal love. She gave it as a gift.

 

Can you imagine loving that freely?

With no expectation—or need to have it returned to you in exact measured form? We have no control over what others do or feel, but we do have control over our own choices. I so hope I can get to this place.

 

My siblings say I’m controlling…

 

Are you? You probably are. I haven’t met a caregiver who isn’t—including myself. You have to be, look what you’re doing? It’s a bowl full of fishing hooks and if you try to pull apart if you became controlling because they wouldn’t help—or if you were controlling and bossy all your life—well, it’s a useless argument. Let them know that yes, someone has to be in control, and it’s kind of fallen to you—but you will listen.

You do want (and need) to value their input even though there will be times that you may need to feel you have to override that if it’s something you have to deal with and no one else is around. Also realize that you may have overstepped your bounds, you may be really bossy and fussy, and want it all done your way—and you may need to listen to at least some of what they have to say—and try.

 

I know you don’t want to hear this, that after all you’ve done you feel like I’m beating up on your too. Just realize I am you. I was that bossy control freak caregiver. And in some ways, I make no apologies—it got me through—and I truly didn’t have anyone rushing down to help me take care of my mom, but…I still had things to learn, and I needed to tone it down at times—and listen.

 

My loved one is gone now, and I still can’t get over the hurt and resentment…

 

Ask yourself why you need to hold on to this. Why does it matter any more? Can you not move on because it would be admitting that mom, dad, spouse, sister is truly gone? Are you obsessing about how everyone just left you, abandoned you, and how wrong that was, how cold that was, how you almost killed yourself and they did very, precious little…

My sibling is selfish, lazy and just doesn’t care.

I suspect this is the case–for a very select few. If it is, then let it go. Love them “as is” and perhaps even love them from afar. You can’t fix every relationship. They have to own their part. Concentrate on you, on getting help and resources you need. There are church groups, community organizations, senior resources that can help tremendously–and they want to. You want help from people who willingly give it. Let’s face it, there are a few totally self-centered folks out there who won’t even extend a hand for their own family. Sad, but true. You can’t let that eat you alive.

 

Do you really want to spend your whole life in this vortex?

 

Even if you sever ties, it’s not enough if you haven’t let go of the resentments. I know people who haven’t seen their sibling for years and years and yet when they talk about their rift, you’d think it happened that morning.

 

I’m telling you, it’s not good for you. It’s not worth it. And it’s no way to honor the passing of your loved one.

 

Even if you don’t have to see them—ever again (not that I’m recommending this), I promise you, this won’t go away unless you make conscious decision. Whatever juices you’re stewing in—resentment, anger, hurt, you will eventually absorb, and it will eventually become a part of who you are on a cellular level.  

 

Let the bitter thoughts go. Move on. Fill your life with new and good people and new journeys. Wish your siblings well. Understand they were scared, lost, felt awkward, missed an opportunity. Feel sorry for them, if you need to. They’re the ones that missed out on all you’ve learned, how much you’ve grown.

 

Also know that people change. I know of siblings who missed out on one parent’s care—for a variety of reasons—but then put in time and half on the next parent—or with another sibling—or a neighbor.

This isn’t tit-for-tat. Stop looking for payment or recognition—I hope you get it, and I hope you put up a big fuss and get others involved—as much for them as for you.

I hate to harp on the law of attraction thing, but it makes sense here: the more you focus on what you don’t have–in this case help from your siblings–the more you get just that. No help from your siblings.

But I also hope that you can love them beyond their limitations and fears. It doesn’t mean they’re not good people. That’s not our place to judge, and who knows what small act of kindness they do, what ways they reach out to others.

 

By loving them when they don’t deserve it, we bring out the best in ourselves and act the most like our creator. I know there are countless times in my life when I’ve screwed up, missed the moment, acted stubborn, selfish, and was no where near the person I aspire to be.

 

We all need a little mercy.

 

~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

Read Full Post »

It’s a difficult day: the day you’re cutting pills, changing sheets, and you realize your loved one is acting even more formal, more distant than usual.

You realize they no longer know who you are.

You can tell. It’s happened before, but you wonder if this is permanent.

Maybe you think back and realize it’s been awhile, and yes, it’s most likely permanent.

So this is it–what it’s like not to be known. It feels hollow.

You see the face of your loved one, the same face you’ve seen age and wrinkle, and you know it so well, you know their voice, their pauses, the way they fold their fingers together, the peculiar way they chew on one side.

But they no longer know you.

You continue to cut the pills, tuck in the corners of the sheets. You don’t think about it at the time but you ask her where her house shoe is–“Mom?”

She doesn’t answer.

You grieve that day. You hold your sorrow in as you work, but when you’re driving or getting ready for bed, you grieve.

It’s only natural.

I had that moment with my mother. It’s such a strange sensation. Part of me felt relieved for her. It was okay for the tether cord to finally sever. I didn’t want her to strain, get aggravated, become suddenly aware of herself and see that panic and heartbreak in her eyes. I’d rather absorb it–not her.

The first step is to grieve. You fold that name: daughter, wife, sister into your heart.

It’s painful to say. Even more painful than the first time you said, “Mom has Alzheimer’s.”

You don’t tell anyone about this day–not for a while.

You keep cutting pills and changing sheets. You call her mom because that’s the only name you know. That’s who she is to you. You kiss her on the forehead. You keep going.

My mother started calling me “Little Girl.” It made me smile.

She ordered me around even more, and in a strange way, it was easier to be told what to do by someone

who didn’t know who I was. She always offered to pay me five dollars. Five whole dollars.

People think the most painful part of caregiving is all the work, the lifting, the endless doctor visits, the midnight ER visits…

It isn’t.

But I promise you, you’ll absorb this grief.

You’ll find new strength.

You’ll decide one day to remember for both of you.

You’ll keep loving and caring and doing.

Why? Habit, maybe. Love, mostly.

One day, it will no longer be about them not knowing you. It’s about you knowing them.

And that just has to be enough.

~Carol D. O’Dell

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

avaailable on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

Read Full Post »

Four million people in the US have Alzheimer’s today, and according to a new study printed in the USA Today Health Section on March 17, 14 million boomers are expected to get Alzheimer’s.

Astronomical growth rate, but unless there’s a cure, that will be the new reality in 20-25 years. After the age of 65, your chances of getting Alzheimer’s doubles every five years.  Add onto this the fact that many boomers chose not to have children or to have much smaller families than their parents did.

Today, 70% of all families care for loved ones at home–in a combination of either their home, their parents, and with the aid of home health care, adult day-cares, and other less than full-time/in house care. Will this kind of family caregiving even be possible in the future? With the inevitable fact that we’re all going to have to work longer than ever before, who will be available to care for our elders?

If you think facilities and health care services are going to make up for this gap, all I can say is they have a long way to go.

You can’t just throw some long-term health insurance at this problem and expect it to be solved. Society has a whole has to come to terms with this situation, and it has to be done with heart.

Alzheimer’s demands for us to be humane. It can, in it ugliest form, be anything but humane. It can bring out the best and worst in those who care of them. It asks just as much of the caregivers and families and health community as it takes from those wracked with the disease.

We must meet this beast on our terms and take back our loved ones with dignity, planning, foresight, intellect, compassion, and wisdom. Yes, we need a cure, but we need a lot more than that to even make a dent.

Since I am one of those boomers, I feel it my responsibility to communicate with my children, to make those “what if” plans, and more than that, begin the heart work needed to leave not only my affairs in order, but my “life” in order. This is not done with a chicken little mentality, but done with love so that my daughters don’t feel sideswiped, and also don’t have a list of expectations and demands that will overtax their lives and only cause strife. This is a messy disease you better be ready to  wrestle an octopus just to stay in the fight.

Here is the article from USA Today, and also, my response I posted on their comments board.

About 14 million, or roughly 18%, of the USA’s 79 million baby boomers can expect to develop Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia in their lifetime, a newly released report shows.

Americans are developing Alzheimer’s at an accelerating rate, says Stephen McConnell, vice president of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Medical advances have allowed people to beat cancer and heart disease. But with longer life comes the added risk of Alzheimer’s, a progressive brain disease that causes severe memory loss and confusion.

The oldest baby boomers are turning 62 this year and are by definition entering the risk zone. Age is the single biggest risk factor for the disease: The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years after age 65.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Medicare | Alzheimer | Association | Aging | Figures | UCLA Center

“What we’re faced with here is the boomer population coming of age,” says Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging. “There are going to be a lot more people at risk.”

The report, “2008 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” states that one out of eight boomers will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, at some point. If no cure for Alzheimer’s is found, the nation will be faced with a half-million new cases of Alzheimer’s in 2010 and nearly a million a year by the middle of the century.

The report doesn’t minimize the burden on the population today, noting that 5.2 million people now have the disease, which can take more than 10 years to destroy the mind. That figure includes a small group of people struggling with the disease in the prime of life. The report says as many as 500,000 Americans are diagnosed before the age of 65.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 70% of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias live at home, where friends and family members pitch in to help them, often at great cost. The report notes:

•In 2007, nearly 10 million Americans ages 18 and older provided 8.4 billion hours of unpaid care to Alzheimer’s patients — care valued at about $89 billion.

•A quarter of a million children ages 8 to 18 are providing care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s. The care provided by young people ranges from companionship to more taxing duties such as helping an elderly relative get dressed, McConnell says.

•There are up to 1.4 million long-distance caregivers in the USA. About 1 million live more than two hours away, and an additional 400,000 live at least an hour away from their loved ones.

The coming Alzheimer’s epidemic will, if left unchecked, put a huge strain on the health care system, including Medicare. In 2005, Medicare spent $91 billion on Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and spending could jump to $160 billion by 2010 and $189 billion by 2015.

If researchers developed treatments that simply delayed the age of onset for Alzheimer’s, that alone could save Medicare billions.

“We don’t need to cure this disease,” McConnell says. “If we could just make a dent in it, the savings would be huge.”

MotheringMother wrote: <1m ago

Caring for someone will Alzheimer’s is not easy. I know, I cared for my mother who had Alzheimer’s the last three years of her life. It was a physically, emotional and spiritual journey for me and my family, and it took all of us plus her church, our community, and many health care professionals to do this. Multiply this scenario by 14 million and needless to say, these statistics are staggering.

Are we as a society ready for 14 million people with Alzheimer’s? This isn’t just a matter of building facilities and training workers. Alzheimer’s has ramifications that ripple out to all who know them. It does something to your head and heart to grapple with this sometimes vicious disease. We can’t just throw money at it and make it go away or make it behave itself.

Many of these boomers do not have children, and most of their children by far, work, have families of their own, and will not be exactly “young” when this epidemic hits. Alzheimer’s is not something you can weather alone, and while there are many good care facilities, most people prefer to stay in their own homes or with their families as long as possible.

Corporate and pharmaceutical eyes seeing dollar signs, and yes, there are products and services that are a must–but communities, city planners, churches, social services need to make long term plans to prepare for this. Sadly, I’d say we were more panicked and more prepared to deal with Y2K than with the onslaught of Alzheimer’s.

As challenging, frustrating, and heartbreaking as it was, my mother’s condition drew out my family’s strength and commitment. I got to see what we were made of, and I can only hope that society is clear-headed, compassionate, and engaged enough to begin to not only diligently seek cures and medications, but even more so begin to build a comprehensive plan to care for our elders.

We have quite a mission ahead of us.

~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
available on Amazon
www.mothering-mother.com

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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)

BAN “DON’T ” FROM YOUR VOCABULARY WHEN DEALING WITH

ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA PATIENTS.

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.

Wow.

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

Read Full Post »

I was featured on Sandy Springs Radio, AM 1620, Atlanta area station. (http://www.radiosandysprings.com/passions.php) and interviewed by host Bernard Kearse on his radio program, Following Your Passions.

Mr.Kearse interviews people from all walks of life who have found passion in who they are and what they do.  

What makes a passionate caregiver?

A passionate caregiver is someone who is still engaged–in caring for their loved one and caring for themselves.

A passionate caregiver asks for help.

A passionate caregiver knows that they need allies. They incorporate their friends, extended family, church, and community into their lives.

A passionate caregiver gets angry–and knows how to use it in constructive ways.

A passionate caregiver gets frustrated at times–they might cry, yell or demand that their loved one’s needs are attended to.

A passionate caregiver refuses to be isolated. They rely on their friends, spouses, and others to keep them in balance.

A passionate caregiver gets out, reaches out, and looks outward–knowing their lives must go on past caregiving.

A passionate caregiver laughs at the craziness, chaos, and absurdity that comes with the challenges of dealing with such debilitating diseases. They keep it in perspective and finds the ironies of life.

A passionate caregiver is present–even for all the scary, nasty, terrifying parts of life. They dig in and face the dark, knowing they will survive. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, cancer, heart disease are all faced with tenderness  and when needed, tough love.

A passionate caregiver chooses dignity, grace, and mercy–for themselves and others.

~Carol D. O’Dell

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

Kunati Publishing

available on Amazon and in most bookstores

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »