Living Many Questions

With the publication of my book, I continue to write each week for the local blast paper. I love sitting down and putting my fingers on the keys and letting the spirit speak through me. This said, there are times when I feel I must mitigate what my higher self thinks and says to my heart. Not that it is anything sinister or unbalanced, it may be seen as unbecoming for my employers or those I work with. I struggle with a system that is so broken and unless the ship starts to turn sometime soon I will never see change in my lifetime.

I love working with the elderly. Some might consider me in that cohort being I am now in my 60’s. When I work with people in their 90’s I think where was I 30 years ago? And then I look 30 years ahead. I have much living to do yet. I work with people who have lived lives in so many different directions. They all come together in the end looking for care and there you have it, how do you care for so many different people in so many different ways?

What do the elderly look like in my work? Let me see if I can put it into words without sounding judgemental or demeaning. I am compassionate and caring for all people, yet every person under my care requires a different me to serve them. Some have cognitive abilities, keen and opinionated. Some are unable to string a sentence together because the mind no longer allows this skill. Just this week my daughter said her two year old was putting four words together. “Where did mommy go?” On the same day my grandson strings together four words, I stood with a woman who did not know how to pull down her pants to sit on the toilet. She is continent (can hold her urine and feces) and can void over the toilet. She just does not understand the process anymore.

My other grandson knows to talk into the remote to watch is favourite program. “Paw Patrol on Netflix” and voila, there is his show. On the same day I helped a competent, cognitive woman who had just returned from hospital find Wheel of Fortune because there were over 800 channels at her disposal and she was lost as to how to find it.

At each end of the spectrum we teach and assist those we love. I love the people I work with. What I don’t love is the system I work in. Just this week I was denied my paycheck and when I went investigating I was told “no one told us you worked here”. This was after I had worked five shifts. The HR person spoke to the accounting person and they both blamed the director of care. Regardless, I was made to feel it was my fault somehow because I had not filled in the appropriate paperwork. At no point did anyone say “I am sorry” for their incompetence, or their poor processes. Nor did they make it right other than to tell me I would be paid in full the end of the month. What if I had children to feed? What if my rent was due? I worked in good faith, is it not expected they should offer the same good faith?

Our system for caring and employing people is broken. Fully and completely broken. Angry people are now just showing up because eventually they do get paid, however, everyone is watching their own behind, like in the case of my lack of pay. No one wants to be accountable in a broken system.

What’s the answer? I truly do not KNOW the answer however what I see as a path we could take is cooperative housing for small groups. Pod style living where there is a common ground and a central hub and yet a small enough group to be personal and hands on. There seems to be a shortage of care providers and yet so many people love working with the older adults. When a worker is respected and loved they will love in turn and be lining up to work for a system that values and cares for them. A system that ensures one gets paid on pay day and appreciates each person for who they are.

Simon Senek says “people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” When the “why” is answered everyone is on the same page. Large corporate structures have the “why” or the mission plastered all over the walls alongside the resident’s rights however there is a disconnect when it comes down the teaching and performing chain.

This blog may be disputed, I hope it is! Prove me wrong. Tell me I am full of it and that I don’t know what I am talking about and I will listen. Better yet, contact me if you are an investor and let’s see how we can build a new way to care for the elderly … let us live many questions and find the “why” and live it out in day to day living.

Next to come a discussion about food ….. the elderly and the slop they are fed!

Technological Darkness

The headlines, if you could see them, were about how there was a major outage across the land that rendered useless cell phones and television! How does this happen and where does it leave us when it does happen? Did you have a moment of panic? Did you go through the grief in a way that you can now better understand it? This past week’s outage gives us a tangible way to better understand ourselves. Let’s look at that!

I woke up on this day, the day the world seemed dark, and looked at my phone. There it was in the top right corner the WIFI icon and yet beside it was some dots and the phone message read, “cannot connect to the internet”. Before I had even lifted my butt from the bed, I knew there was something amiss. Something was off. 

Feeling: denial. When we cannot believe something has happened. The shock and surprise create in us the inability to believe, so we question. How can this be? This cannot have happened. I got up and went into the living room and looked at the modem and it was flashing orange. Hmmm confirmation something was not right. Feeling: anger. No way! I cannot watch my morning show! This is an outrage! What to do next. Where to turn and who do I yell at? Should I call someone and complain? Feeling: bargaining. Wait! I will turn off the WIFI on my phone and just use my data. There, WIFI off. Wait! It’s not working either … return to denial and anger. Emotions rotating through my body.

I put the phone down and take a breath and decide I will make some coffee and ponder this challenge. Something I take for granted and a piece of my life that is always there is just gone. Without notice and without any chance to prepare. I plug in the kettle and wait for the water to come to a boil and ponder. What do I do next? I pace the kitchen floor and listening to the kettle heat up the water. Feelings: shock, denial, wonder and the anger works its way into sadness and depression. I feel a sense of sadness that I cannot watch my morning show. The routine of my life has been altered and, while not just altered, I feel shocked into change. A wave of apathy takes me over and like someone has poured warm oil over me and as it slowly runs its way over my body, I think of all the things affected by this loss. I cannot check my bank balances, do I need cash at the store, and how will I connect with the outside world? Feeling: Confusion and lack of direction overtakes me. I feel challenged even making coffee. 

As the morning wears on and I get myself moving. I eat, shower and get dressed and many of the routine things from my day begin to unfold. I can do this. I am moving like a sloth through molasses. Slowly and carefully stepping my way into this world I no longer know. I habitually reach for my phone, the remote, the computer, only to remember in a tidal wave of reality, there is no internet/cable/WIFI. What is life without internet and cable? Sounds silly however they have infiltrated every part of daily life. The denial, shock, and apathy begin to morph into reality, and I think to myself, “what CAN I do?” I pick up my knitting and I make a cup of tea. Feeling: Acceptance I must go on and figure this out. It will be okay!

And 24 hours later slowly the world comes back online. My life takes back a semblance of normal and I realize there were people unaffected by this outage, this death, and they are oblivious to me and my emotional roller coaster. 

This may sound like an unusual way to look at the technological disruption we had last week, however it is an excellent way to look at how we manage any loss in our life using an event that is detached from our heart. We can see how we process every loss using our feelings and our moments of change. Dissecting this event will give you courage and strength to meet the other losses in your life. The losses that are harder on the heart and the spirit. The loss of a mother, grandmother, uncle, pet or sibling. The loss of a father to dementia and the world of cognitive chaos. The breakdown of a marriage, an argument with a bestie or moving out of a job either by choice or by termination. Each day we have losses we must deal with and when we understand the emotional process, we can navigate easier. 

What did I do? I had an Anne of Green Gables marathon, watching the DVD’s that are collecting dust on my shelf. I was reminded of a time when phones were unborn, doctors showed up via horse and buggy, and Canada had not yet been signed, sealed and delivered. I watched as Anne looked for kindred spirits and dreamed of sleeping in a cherry tree at the train station waiting to be picked up. I was taken back into the imagination of window friends and church picnics. 

While this technological disruption pushed us through the grieving process it is a reminder of simpler things in life that are so important and how with nary a moment’s notice life can change direction. Are you equipped by knowing the feelings and the process? It helps to be prepared emotionally, actually more important than physically, what is in your emotional emergency kit?

#breakingstibah

#dancynadventures

Bell Let’s Talk Day #bellletstalk

Never thought my story was important enough. However, as I heal and grow and learn about self forgiveness, making amends to others and truly seeing how life is altered by our perceived and limiting beliefs, I realize my story is important. It makes sense to others who are struggling. You can read my story here:

https://www.bradfordtoday.ca/local-news/column-celebrating-3-years-sober-3299129

Spirituality is not religion

Spirituality is not religion. Religion is a means by which many live out their spirituality. So that said, how do those who do not consider themselves religious tap into this part of ourselves? Hildegard of Bingen said, “The soul is kissed by God in its innermost region.” So I ask, are you in touch with your soul, or your spirit by another name? Do you ever integrate your discontent, dissatisfaction or sadness with a longing of the soul?

https://mailchi.mp/b57a077b501c/i-am-a-journalist-4735330

Satisfaction?

There was a song in the 70’s … by The Rolling Stones called “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and it went wild. Today we would say it went viral. Getting satisfaction, being satisfied, can be a challenge on any given day. Or can it? What does it take to be satisfied? Are we looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places?

https://www.bradfordtoday.ca/local-news/column-we-dont-know-what-we-dont-know-3137568?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Email

Finding a sense of purpose

Finding a sense of purpose in the twilight years can be hard when your days feel endless and life is challenging you physically. Generativity and giving to others comes in the latter part of life when we are retired, or stepping back from formal generation of income. We want to care about others and in turn it helps us care for ourselves.

Read more about self-care in my weekly column.

Feeling lost … can be lovely

There was a day recently where I simply felt lost. Totally empty of desire, lacking in motivation. I was scared. I was feeling very alone in the world. Have you ever felt that way? I stood in my space in my nightgown and knew I should shower, get to work, make some progress and simply be productive. I just could not move. I went to YouTube and thought I would put on a familiar movie that would bring some warm and fuzzy into my life. As I was deciding what to look for or seek out, my guru Dr. Wayne Dyer came mind and I was prompted to watch “The Shift” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SnWOTDykAc&t=224s It is a book he wrote and also a movie done in 2009 and is available to watch on YouTube. I started to watch it.

I knit for pleasure and just finished a sweater. The left over yarn had become a bit tangled so while I watched I decided to roll this left over yarn into a neat and organized ball. I found the end and began by wrapping the yarn around three of my fingers to begin a ball. I rolled and listened to the movie. Dr. Dyer is a very wise man and his words always bring me home, bring me hope and give me strength when days seem long or especially dark. I know this movie well because I have watched it before however in learning life’s lessons this kind of a movie has a new lesson to teach every time you read it. Like wisdom literature or ancient text going back to it reveals a deeper and more profound self discovery when one is in turmoil or struggling with the dark times. The Shift is about life’s journey and realization of change and poor behaviours that we fall into. It is a reflection on how life’s monotony, routine and sameness can stifle love, wisdom and passion. How we tend to fall into a routine without watching for the miracles or paying attention to the beauty at hand. It is a message from the very source of being reminding what is important in life.

As I rolled the yarn on my fingers I was stopped dead in my rolling tracks by a knot. It was messy and tied up and the more I pulled on it the more it resisted. It was tight and wrapped around itself intimately holding on with the very fibre of its substance. I had to put down the ball, the organized part of the work and concentrate on the tangle. The more I pulled the more tangled it seemed. It was stubborn. I stopped and looked it over. I pulled gently at the outside strands coaxing it gently and with patience. I looked at the neat ball and I looked at the tangles ahead of me there was a moment where I thought of just tossing the whole thing away, in a box, for another day, and forgetting about it.

Something in me said, “just keep going, I gave you this task for a reason!” So I continued to work and tease out the tangles. I weathered through the first tangle, listening to the shift on the screen. I watched as the organized ball of yarn became larger and larger. I continued on with the tangled mess and in my darkness, I could see how this represented things in life at times. I mean, at one point the ball was in the chair and the yarn was strung and pulled from the chair across the carpet, up the two stairs, down again, over a grocery bag, over another chair and finished in one large mass on the floor. It was there I could see the other end. The finish line. My destiny, the end!

I picked up the end and thought, “hmmmm I wonder if I can work backwards” and started rolling from the other end. The tangles were the same, challenging and yet doable, and I just needed patience and wisdom to work it out. I started pulling and weaving and realized it was not a good plan to start at the end, however knowing there was an end made the middle seem less daunting. I appreciated the struggles of getting through the challenges knowing the end would come, eventually. So I went back to where I left off. An organized ball, tangles and more tangles however the end was in sight.

I spent the whole morning in my nightie, listening to the words of wisdom from Dr. Dyer and his conversations with others, sorting out my ball of yarn. When I finally rolled the final turn and the end came through my fingers, I felt accomplished. I felt completed. I felt I had done good.

This yarn or this tale is introspective of life’s journey. We get tangled up and we pull and we are in knots. Often we simply cannot realize that if we are to relax and tease away at the tangled mess it will fall into organization. It is through the tangles we grow and learn and appreciate our lives. There is a mess of tangles and our fear often comes when we do not expect it. When we cannot find the end, appreciate it, being in it is the hardest part. This is when a deep trust must come over us and we untangle with the collective spiritual wisdom of those before us and those after us. Being present … after all we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. Being is often the most needed thing to do, right then, right there!

As I was working with the tangled words of my own life in this morning of darkness and distress many words popped up to me. Words like help, alone, stress, silence, and fear. Then as I listened to these words in my thoughts words like love, hope, today, tomorrow, wonderful and the shift replaced them. As I worked through the tangles of those in the story on the screen my own darkness lifted knowing I was not alone, or helpless or silenced. I am in charge of my own happiness and my own life and as I rolled that yarn a renewed strength flowed over me like warm syrup, coating me from the top down in sweetness. All the words were hidden under the tangles of my perceived darkness and when I took the time to look at the tangles it did not seem so dark anymore.

Lately, I had lost touch with source. Stepped away from running, meditating and focussing on my passions and my purpose so I could plan and build business. Ego and financial planning is tangling up my life to a point where it zaps motivation and desire, all that come from my greater ‘why’. My soul contract is to passionately bring excitement and desire to the world. I must watch at all times when I cover it up with EGO planning. Have faith and do and the rest will fall into place and be planned as planning is needed.

What are the tangles in your life? Can you spread it out on the living room floor and get a good bird’s eye view of it? Can you step back, step out and step up to see where you are in detangling this muddle? Will you take a minute and look at the end, knowing it will come even though you never know when? One of the greatest learnings from aging adults is how they wish they had spent more time reflecting, loving, hugging and just being once they are in the twilight of their days. Looking at your own death, writing your own eulogy, and pondering what you want people to remember you for will detangle life very quickly. Taking the time to share your tangles with a trusted wisdom walker helps to bring clarity and hope. No one can do it for you, however a good listener is good medicine. Only you can live your life and own the journey. Be in the boat, be your own captain, be in charge of your yarn, tangles and all!

May your yarn be long and strong, withstanding the tangles and knots.

May your yarn be told well and with courage.

May you find your yarn fulfilling and hope-filled.

May source and the force be with you everyday.