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Archive for the ‘perfection’ Category

We always think that happiness is “out there.”

When I get a new job, when I take vacation, when I lose 30 pounds, when…

Happiness is not that hard. We make it hard. Happiness is having new eyes. A fresh perspective.

After I moved my mother in with us to care for her, (she had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), she used to tell everybody–the postman, the grocery clerk, the pastor, the lawn guy, that she had given up everything to move in with me–her house, her car, her friends, her life.

Apparently she thought I had given up nothing.

I would stand next to her and smile and let her have her moment, get the sympathy she thought she deserved although most people had no idea what to say.

It reminded me of a precocious two-year old I knew who would run in from playing with a tiny scratch on her arm and pronounce to the entire room, “LOOK AT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME!”

There were times as a caregiver (and other times in my life) that I wanted to do that, pronounce it to the world.

But somewhere along in my early adult life (after years of anger and hurt about being adopted and other very painful issues) I got tired of my own whining. I simply wore it out. I was tired of being known as the girl with the problems.

I decided to be the happiest person I knew.

Not a sappy Pollyanna happy type you just want to slap, but deep-down easy, not in your face joy.

It hasn’t been a linear path getting here, but I am pretty darn happy.

One day, while caring for my mom, she toodled into the kitchen, slapped her hand down on the counter and pronounced, “I’m not happy!”

As if I could bop her over the head with my fairy wand and “Voila!” instant happiness.

I looked at her, my mother who truly was a happy (in a self-centered, domineering, the entire world is here to serve me kind of way) person. It just wasn’t easy, and life isn’t always easy. She didn’t like having to leave her friends and move in with me. Her body was giving out and Parkinson’s had taken its toll, also, Alzheimer’s and depression are linked. Most days, she couldn’t toodle into my kitchen. She didn’t like that I had to divide my time away from her to take care of my children and my marriage. She didn’t like that her life was playing out and that sooner, rather than later, she’d die.

But I couldn’t fix any of that.

I just looked at her with this dawning revelation.

If only one of us could be happy, then I’d choose me.

Kind of the life raft theory. Who do you kick off the boat?

The one who most likely won’t make it any way.

Sounds terrible, I know, and I had truly, truly, truly tried to make her happy–and more than that, I had tried to take care of her, keep her safe, keep her alive.

But if the people around you simply choose not to be happy, then realize you can choose otherwise.

Choose joy.

My life is far, far from perfect, and I’ve been kicked in the teethquite a few times, but this morning, I rode my bike for five miles with my ipod on singing my heart out.

I have a new CD–Grey’s Anatomy’s Third Season, and I love the compilation of songs and artists. I belt it out, make figure 8s and circles with my wheels, and dance on the bike (be-boppin’ up and down) and I don’t care what anybody thinks.

Why should I? In the first place, hardly anyone’s home at 10am, and most people I know aren’t happy–or at least they don’t act happy, so why should I care if I’m known as the crazy bicycle singer?

My kids think I’m nuts, but they’re used to me by now.

My morning coffee, my journal, my glider, the sun, my bike, my ipod, my afternoon dark chocolate fix–the warm, strong hug of my husband–these are what I call give me my “happy fix.” They bring me immense daily joy. They cost very little, and I try not to run out or get so busy and stressed that I don’t do these things I love, the very things that sustain me.

Caregiving was grueling at times, and the end was really, really tough–but it taught me to love, to give, to stretch beyond myself, and it was for a season.

Since my mother’s passing, I’ve learned that life is pretty darn short and I better snatch all the sweetness and joy I can. Parts of my life are still crappy, and I’m not always this giddy–I tend to be more so in the spring and summer, so if I’m getting on your last nerve–sorry.

What I hope for you today is based off something I read this morning in Alan Cohen’s Daily Devotional book, A Deep Breath of Life,

April 14th entry:

I used to think I was a perfectionist.

I was constantly finding flaws and errors other people overlooked. If there were many aspects of a job that was done well, I would point out the one area that wasn’t.

But now I realize I was an imperfectionist.

If I was a perfectionist, I would have found perfection everywhere I looked.

***

That BLEW ME AWAY. I hope it did you too.

I plan to become a happyologist.

~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

 

 

 

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Do you feel like running away?

You may have restless caregiver syndrome.

What’s that, you ask?

I may have made up the term, but I certainly experienced it firsthand.

Have you seen the commercials for restless leg syndrome?

They’re kind of quirky, and I’m not saying that it’s not a serious disorder, but it’s presented in a way that makes my own legs twitch! Nothing like an idea planted in your brain.

But that’s exactly what I felt like some days as I cared for my mom who had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I just couldn’t sit still. I wanted to run, to stay busy, to go, go, go.

I guess I was scared.

I was scared my mother would consume me.

I was scared that this was going to be my life from now on, and that by accepting it now, I was accepting it forever.

I was scared that if I sat still, thought too long, I’d realize it was a mistake, that this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was scared I’d grow old and not have the life, the adventures, the memories and journeys I’d always dreamed of.

Restless caregiver syndrome happens off and on in the caregiving process. It occurs when you’ve given up your old life in order to care for your loved one. It’s also compounded by a sandwich generation lifestyle where everyone wants something from you all the time. And, if you’re female, you may be dealing with the oh so lovely change of life–men-o-pause. And, on top of that, you’re probably a boomer and thinking about your own future, i.e. finances, career, retirement, aging, etc.

You became a caregiver because your loved one needed you. You did it believing it was the right thing to do. You told yourself there were some benefits—getting out of a dead-end job, able to spend more time at home, maybe take better care of your own health, or begin that second career you’ve always dreamed of.

Only…

Caregiving isn’t quite what you’d thought it’d be. You’re bored. Stressed. Unmotivated. Overwhelmed by all the stuff there is to do, and how little you feel you get done. You have time (sometimes) but no focus, no initiative.

Your loved one certainly needs your assistance, but you didn’t plan on becoming someone’s personal butler, driver, maid, and cook. They also seem to enjoy your being at your beck and call—or they’re miserable, fussy, or constantly apologizing. You didn’t think all this emotional baggage would come in tow.

You‘re consumed by caregiving even when you’re not caregiving.

You’re fumbling in your own life. Directionless. How long can this go on? The years stretch out in front of you like a vast desert. Some days, sure, you feel on top of your game, but there’s also an underlying sense of sadness. You know where this is going to end.

A restlessness has built up inside you. You gotta get out. You can’t sit in that living room chair one more minute. You can’t scramble one more egg. But you’re stuck.

How to Combat Restless Caregiver Syndrome:

·       Play a game with yourself: if you were under house arrest, but you weren’t caregiving, what would you do? What resources do you have right at home?

·       If someone gave you three years to reinvent yourself, what would you do? Learn a new language? Take some classes and become a computer whiz? Sell your handmade jewelry online?

·       Create a structure you can live with. You call the shots. You decide when dinner is, you decide the med routine. If you want your loved one to go to bed at 7pm so you can have the night to yourself, then arrange it. Create boundaries you can honor that make your life easier.

·       Start planning for time off. Check into respite care; hire a CNA for $20.00 an hour. It may take you a while to get all this in order, but do your homework, find someone you feel your loved one is safe with, and start taking regular breaks.

·       Don’t use your take out for anything that you aren’t dying to do. Go for a mountain hike, antique shopping, to the local pub to watch a football game—anything that will make you feel as if you’ve truly taken a break. No errands. No combining. Time off is time for you.

·       Create a room—your bedroom, a spare office, part of the garage that is just for you. Make it your haven. Put a cooler in there with drinks, stock a mini-bar, and collect magazines only you like— and go there — alone. Your family and loved ones will respect what you respect—and they will run rough-shod over you if you let them.

·       Call a friend and vent for 10 minutes. Set the timer and then just go for it. After that, tell your friend to forbid you from any further complaining for the day. Complaining and whining and griping are good, but not when it’s a toilet bowl that never flushes. I mean that visual to be disgusting so that you’d STOP. Incessant thinking is unhealthy.

·       Use your fidgetiness and wear yourself out. Do something physical—put all your anger and edginess into it. Clean out the frig, scrub the bathroom tiles and get out the gunk around the shower door. Use your restlessness.

·       Find a safety valve. If you’re really about to blow your top, how can you get away? Do you have an emergency person? Can you take them to adult day care? Are they okay for a couple of hours alone if you really couldn’t take it anymore? Have a plan B—because sometimes, it all gets to be too much.

·       If you have siblings and you’ve been carrying this burden alone—then make the call and insist they help out in some way. Even if it’s paying for home help, then that’s a help. Don’t let resentment and exhaustion build up. Tell them how hard it is. Insist you get a weekend off every few months—and a week or two of vacation time a year. You only get what you ask for, so ask!

·       Don’t be a perfectionist and think everything has to be exactly right and exactly your way. If you do, you’ll be a slave to the mundane. Choose a few things to do well, and a few things to do lousy. Nobody ever died because the forks were sticking up in the dishwasher.

·       If your loved one is being ugly, then get in the car and leave. Even driving around the block helps. I used to walk out back, down the embankment out at the river—and scream. So what if the neighbors heard! Better they hear me scream than gunshotsJ They’re adults and can be alone for 5 minutes and they need to be taught that you will not be mistreated. Make that point clear.

You get what you allow.

Sometimes, you’re just going to feel restless as caregiver. You’re going to want to run, to scream, to change your name to Flo and become a waitress on some seaside pier restaurant (my fantasy, not yours necessarily).

When you feel like running, then run. Get out as much as you can. Even if it’s just out the front door and around the block. Hide, sneak out, stay in bed an extra half hour, stand in your shower until the water turns cold. Do what your gut is telling you to do–at least in some small way. If you let off the pressure valve, then maybe, maybe the whole thing won’t blow.

Trust yourself. Trust your journey and this process.

Later, there will come a time when you might not be able to “run,” so do it now. Trust that you will come back.

After your loved one passes, you’ll go through this all over again—there’ll be days when you just can’t be at home. It’s a part of the grieving process. There’ll be other days, or weeks that you can’t make yourself leave. Home feels safe.

Again, trust yourself. Trust that your body, your soul, and your heart knows how to heal itself.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Family Advisor at Caring.com

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

www.opentohope.com

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I had this huge personal revelation that was a part of a deep belief system–and I realized that I did this very “thing” during caregiving–and if I did this, other caregivers might be doing it too.

This is the “thing” I’m talking about.

Paying for what you’ve done.

Example: You know how when you’re a kid and you’re supposed to get to go do something fun–like say, to go a birthday party–your parents tell you that to be able to go you have to clean your room, cut the grass, and when you get back you also have to do all your homework for the week?

In other words, you have to pay for having the good time.

And of course, you really had to PAY if you were ever bad–came home late, got in trouble (they called it punishment)

Well, I realized that I was (and am) still doing this to myself.

If I went out of town or went out to dinner with girlfriends, I’ve always made sure the house was clean, there was extra dogfood–and if I was gone a few days, I’d make sure there was a roast in the crock pot, a lasagna in the freezer…in other words, PAYMENT.

I couldn’t ever just believe I deserved something good.

Not just a gift–a gift is given sometimes to the UNdeserving.

I mean, believing deep down that I deserved something good–with no need to pay for it in any way.

Remember the old Puritan Ethic?

Work hard and God will reward you.

 I twisted it even further…Work hard or God won’t reward you.

Even after you’ve been rewarded, STILL work hard because you probably haven’t worked hard enough! In other words…work, work, work!

Did I hardly ever give myself a break (in part) as a caregiver? Not too much because I believed I had to PAY for past transgressions. I told myself I couldn’t find good help (in part, true), or that mother wouldn’t adjust (also true) or…the list went on. I know now that I thought I had to pay for my own good health, or pay if I were to even think about having a good time. 

Sick, I know. 

I’m hoping someone out there will step up and tell me

I’m not the only one who does this.

Recently, as most of you know, I published a book, Mothering Mother.I’ve spent months and months at caregiving talks, book signings, TV and radio spots. I’ve gotten lots of attention–something adults don’t like to talk about. I’ve received “fan” mail from wonderful caregivers and readers, I’ve received roses at special events…been on CNN, and it’s been hard, hard work, but it’s also been a whole lotta fun!

I’m suited for this. I love the juxtaposition of thought and quiet and contemplation and creating something on the page–and then I LOVE dressing up, “performing” mom and me in my little one act plays where I do both of us–I love making people laugh and cry. I love signing books! I could do it all day! I love knowing that I’ve touched someone’s lives. I even love the drives, the bookstores, the blogs.

Yikes. Does part of me believe that because I love it so, so much that I should have to “pay” for all this fun?

Now, a little bit of the hullabaloo has worn off and I realize that I’ve lapsed into this “I need to pay my family back for all that.” I’ve taken time away, stayed overnight, spent copious hours online and in bookstores. They’ve been patient and proud, but I’m sure it gets old.

It’s not that they asked or demanded anything.

But I see that I’ve been in drudgery mode lately–working hard with no joy. Taking jobs that are clearly not me. I thought I had to. I had so much to pay back.

I once had this great therapist who said the magic words that

changed my life…

“It’s a new day!”

So, I ask you–is there some part of you that took on the role of primary caregiver, or hardly ever lets yourself take a break because you believe you have to pay something back? Am I attracting this because I believe I need to pay? Do I feel guilty that my loved one is sick/dying?

Do I need to pay?

For being that black sheep?

For that adventure in college?

For screwing up my finances?

For taking off and letting my siblings deal with mom and dad for a while?

Because I enjoy good health and financial security?

Let it go. (I says to me-self)

Look at the sky and say, “Thanks!” That’s it. 

A heart of gratitude is all that’s asked. That’s The Secret.

Make a list of what you deserve:

I deserve to have daily joy.

I deserve to view myself with tenderness and compassion.

I deserve to be appreciated.

I deserve regular breaks.

I deserve help on a consistent basis.

I deserve a real vacation every year.

I deserve to caregive out choice and heart of love.

I deserve for my siblings/family to contribute.

I deserve for my thoughts and opinons to be respected.

As for caregiving, yeah, you may still want to and need to give care–but this could be the revelation that changes everything–and open up new opportunities.

It’s a new day.

~Carol D. O’Dell

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

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

Kunati Publishing

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You’ve been caregiving awhile–

and you have to admit, you’re good at it.

But how would you know?

What is an UBER-Caregiver anyway?

In this context, I mean “over the top, more than necessary, to excess”

See if any of these fit you:

  • You take pride in the fact that you can maneuver your way around the Medicare/Medicaid site.
  • You know all the medical/caregiver lingo and even use the acronyms.
  • You talk like you’re a pharmacist  and try to diagnose everyone else in your life.  
  • Your loved one’s doctors ask you’ve ever considered going into medicine.
  • You’re the unofficial leader of your local support group.
  • Your loved one is always clean and matching, and people comment what good care you give.
  • Your loved one’s daily regime is more planned and detailed than a wartime tactical maneuver.
  • You’ve started introducing yourself as your loved one’s caregiver–not their son, daughter, spouse.
  • Your friends and family say they’d like you to be their caregiver when the time comes….

I know your defenses (my defenses)

You have to get good at this. You can’t help it, it comes with the territory. What else do you have to do? You might as well do it right if you’re going to bother at all.

It fills you with a sense of pride. And rightly so. Only…

Somewhere deep inside you there’s a small voice that says, “this isn’t what/who you thought you’d be when you grew up.”

You had other plans.

There are other things you’re good at to.

How did this happen?

Uber-caregiving isn’t all bad. Your loved one certainly benefits. They’re taken care of well–whether they like it or want it or not.

It’s the flip-side of Uber-Parenting and I’m guessing here, but I think it comes with perfectionist tendencies, wanting to please, and a tenacious spirit that loves to learn and be good at things.

Have you ever seen the mother who fusses with her toddler too much?

She leaps every time they take a tumble. She says they’re hot and bundles them up–too much–their little cheeks are flushed and they look pudgy in their three layers. She’s a know-it-all that drives all the other parents bonkers. She thinks her kid is brilliant…and therefore, by default, yours isn’t…

Same thing, honey. It’s irritating as hell.  

And while it’s good to be good at what you do, you might have gotten carried away.

Why? For me, I think I was bored. My mind and body is active and is always searching for something to challenge it and keep it engaged–for meaning and purpose. And the only thing that seemed available at the time was caregiving. Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and Parkinson’s had become my life. I liked the challenge. I liked learning how to handle all this. It made me feel smart–and needed.

The only thing is, it’s not all I’m meant to be. I’ve always been a writer/communicator/artist. That’s who I am at my core.

Why is Uber-Caregiving Not So Good For You?

You might be driving your loved one nuts.

You might be driving away help.

You might be isolating yourself and not know it.

You might be running from your demons/avoiding personal soul/heart work.

It might not be as fulfilling as you try and tell yourself it is.

And one thing I know for sure.

You’ll eventually be out of a job.

Our elderly, our infirmed loved ones will eventually die.

I know you don’t want to hear that word. You don’t want to think about it. Part of you believes that if you’re good enough, give them the right meds, find the right doctor, enroll in the right treatment plan…that they won’t die. You’ll have more time.

You might (might) buy them–and you a little time, but people die. Death, dying, grieving are all a part of this experience. We avoid it as long as we can, but eventually, we have to look at it.

I say that with a gentle voice and tender hand. You can’t always feels those things across the abyss of the Internet, but I mean that with utmost kindness.

 

Your loved one will pass away, and your life must go on.

What will you do then? After years of caregiving. Years of pouring your heart and soul and energy–and money into all that caregiving asks and seems to demand.

And then your life changes. It’s over. In one day. And you walk around in a blur. Part of you is relieved. You’re exhausted, you didn’t even know how exhausted you were, but another part–a bigger part is completely and utterly lost.

I tell you this because I know. That’s how I felt after my mom passed away after three years of full-time caregiving and 15 years of being her only child, her daugher, and her caregiver coordinator. That’s a long time. Long enough for that identity to form.

When I started writing Mothering Mother, I didn’t realize I would become an uber-caregiver, and I certainly didn’t do it all right. I wasn’t a perfectionist, but at times, I was a know-it-all because caregiving was all that I felt like I was thinking, doing, being. Writing about my mother’s actual passing allowed me to look beyond that point, to deal with my guilt and grief–and begin to slowly build my life again. I did because I didn’t want anyone else to have to face it alone.

I ask you, look past today. Look past that moment of death. Look past that year of grieving, and look into your own future.

Who will you be?

What will you do?

We’ll talk more tomorrow.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, available on Amazon and in most bookstores.

Kunati Publishing

www.mothering-mother.com

 

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Caregiver guilt is debilitating. You know that the word, “guilt” isn’t a healthy word, but many caregivers feel overwhelmed with a sense of I should, I wish I had, why can’t I just…

I certainly experienced my fair share of caregiver guilt.

The irony is the more you do, the guiltier you feel. Trust me, the family members who have disconnected from their loved ones who need them feel far less guilt than you do. Why? Perhaps it is as simple as a disconnect. They just don’t “feel” it. It’s a safety valve. But those who get in the thick of the battle, who give time, money, energy, and day-to-day care are the ones feeling the most guilt. Crazy, huh?

Certain family dynamics add to this.

Was your mom the queen of guilt? Is this a learned behavoir for you? Did you hear the phrase, “You should be ashamed…” when you were younger?

I sure did. Certain religions, (growing up Catholic, or in my case, Pentecostal) seemed to serve guilt as an entree to life. I was taught to feel bad about everything–my thoughts, my actions, my in-actions, you name it. I never felt good enough, or that I could ever do enough.

That’s sad. I don’t believe that shame based manipulation is good for anyone, especially a child. And I don’t believe that’s what God ever intended. Guilt can lead into the downward spiral of depression. Be careful of that little buggar. Stats say that 52% of Americans experience depression–and I wonder what percentage of them are wracked in guilt? (depression.about.com/od/factsfigures/Statistics.htm –

Sure, guilt might work for awhile, on the surface–but it doesn’t begin to touch on the issues of the heart.

Sometimes, our loved ones still employ guilt tactics to keep us entangled and paralyzed.

Ever heard these lines?

“You never come to see me.”

“Why can’t you just do this one thing for me.”

“I thought you’d be glad to…”

My mother had a purse full of guilt lines and she’d whip them out all hours of the day and night–and it didn’t matter who was around. At 89, I insisted she move in with my family and me. She had Parkinson’s, and although she wasn’t aware, the beginning signs of Alzheimer’s. I moved heaven and earth to sell my home, her home, put us all under one roof, drive her to every doctor’s appointment, find her a church she liked, buy her favorite foods, and you know what she used to tell people?

“Carol’s asked me to give up so much just to move in with her.”

Now, I can laugh. Now, I see that as her defense mechanism. Now, I see that statement as a way of her to keep her dignity, to feel in charge. I wasn’t as merciful with her at the time. I rolled my eyes and looked disgusted. And yet, I did feel guilty. Had I made the right decision?

Here you are. 30, 40, 50, or more–and you’re wracked with guilt.

Here’s something I wrote in journal several years ago as I was caring for my mother:

Letter to Self

Dear Carol,So far, you’ve been taking care of your mother for a year and a half. You’ve stuck it out through crazy times, angry times, tender times, through hospital visits and home health visits and while everyone else gets to come and go, you’ve stayed. You haven’t had a vacation and no more than two days away this whole time. I know that when your mother dies, you’re going to feel guilty. I know you. You’re going to think that you should have been kinder, less rushed, that you should have done more with her, taken her more places, insisted the kids be nicer. I know you’re going to miss her and wish that a million things had been different.I want you to know you did the best you could.You remained faithful. You grappled with every decision. You let her into your life and your home, and you and your family did what most people wouldn’t even have considered, much less done. People aren’t perfect, and if they try to be, then they’re not real. We’re not supposed to get it all right.Remember that you had to balance this with being a wife and mother. It’s only natural to want to move forward and be more interested in your children, in those who are living. That’s how the human race survives.

Remember that her emotions were always on an ever-widening pendulum and Alzheimer’s took it to frightening heights and devastating lows. You learned as a child that you couldn’t trust her with your heart although you kept trying. It just wasn’t ever possible. That’s okay. You also know she loved you. And you loved her.

It really did help to write that letter to myself. To rationalize guilt away, to expose it, to learn to be tender with myself–as tender as I would to a dear friend.

Become your own friend. Talk to yourself. I do a lot of self-talks in the car. I’m grateful for blue-tooths because most people just think you’re talking on the phone.

By going into “third person,” I’m able to objectively treat myself with the same respect, dignity, and honor I tend to give others.

A Few Guilt Breaking Techniques:

  • Self Letters, and letters to your loved one explaining why you simply can’t fall into the guilt trap any more
  • Self-talks–or talk to your loved one (metaphorically). Argue, tell them to stop. Tell them it isn’t going to work any more.
  • List all the things you’ve done–with love, kindness, and committment. You’ll be surprised how very long this list is.
  • Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes. They don’t like feeling weak and vulnerable, and guilt is one of the very few tools they possess.
  • List ways you “think” you’ve failed. Then really look at that list. Is this in any way realistic?
  • Cut yourself some slack. Take “perfect” off the table. Be realistic. If there’s one area you, personally would really like to improve upon–then make a plan. Do it. One thing–not the whole mountain.
  • Learn to let go. Whatever you didn’t do right 10 years ago, yesterday, or in the last five minutes is the past. Let it go. Keep a stone or shell in your pocket to remind you to let go of old baggage.
  • Visualize guilt as a toxic bright green substance as dangerous as battery acid. Every time you have a guilty thought, see your heart being splattered with this yucky, sizzling, flesh eating gunk. Become “allergic” to guilt.
  • Adopt the mentality, “If I’d-a known better, I’d-a done better.” Now you know. It’s a new day.
  • Take a tube of lipstick and draw a big heart on your bathroom mirror. Align your face to fit the inside of that heart. Every day, put yourself in that heart. Smile, and say outloud, “I’m a good person, and I have a good heart.” Do this several times a day. Straighten your posture. Take a few deep breaths. Smile. Begin to view yourself as your own best friend. Your own advocate. Don’t let anyone, including your “other selves” tear down this person you love and respect.

Have a great, guiltless 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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This weekend (March 24/25), I am at a Women’s Expo Convention.
But my book, MOTHERING MOTHER isnt out yet, but this opportunity presented itself, what was I to do?

I had decided on January 1, 2007 that this would be the year of the “YES,” and when opportunity came a knockin’, I was already packed for a roadtrip.

And there I was today, in my little booth handing out postcards, flyers to upcoming events, business cards, and chatting about…everything. Of course, I told them about my book and about mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and how women are nurterers and basically mother everything and everybody–from our coworkers to our pets. And I then I told them I know how hard it was, what toll it took on our spirits and bodies, and that it’s really, really challenging, frustrating and gratifying to care for so many. Yes, I’ll admit it. We shared a few tears on center aisle.

Because that’s when the floodgates opened. Stories, stories, and stories.

I figured out a long time ago that I would be a reposit for stories.
I would write mine, tell mine at booksignings and events, and then I’d spend the rest of the listening and gathering.
Believe me, this is not tiring. It is not boring. I am priveledged to hear stories of grandmothers with generous laps and mothers with fiesty tempers and teens who have no idea how very much their mothers love and worry about them.

I wrote MOTHERING MOTHER because I needed a place to put my stories. And now, I hope to give others that very same place.

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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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