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.
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.
Retirement verses long term care. People move mom or dad or older family into these beautiful hotel like atmospheres only to realize after the move they are very regulated and take away much freedom and care is often not what is expected. They may be pretty however they are overseen by regulations and authority and need to be reviewed carefully before placing your loved one under their care.
Long term care (LTC) is overseen by at least 27 regulations set by government and the MoH (Ministry of Health). Retirement is overseen by at least 10 regulations set by the RHRA (Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority). There is quite a difference. Long term care has one set of standards that says for every 8 or 9 clients there must be a caregiver or personal support worker. Under the RHRA the ratios are for every 30 clients there is one caregiver. This makes a huge difference when your loved one needs personal attention and care. The LHIN (Local Health Integrated Network) is the newest version of CCAC, a system that assigns care to older adults in their “home” environment at what is perceived as “free” care. It is not “free” it is paid for by our government system and your tax dollars. It is a contract system where companies vie for the “right” to be one of these companies that send in caregivers to your loved one and bill the government coffers.
These caregivers can and do go into retirement homes as it is considered the client’s residence. In my experience, I have been a care provider (employee) overseeing 25+ aging adults in a retirement environment, where people pay $2500+ for a 12′ X 14′ space, and I watch contract caregivers pop in and over a short period of time “put your loved one to bed”. They are scheduled anywhere from 6:30 – 8:30 pm to come in, dress, wash and literally put to bed the client. This means your mom or dad is in bed for 12 – 14 hours based on the schedule of the business overseeing this client. I have seen 3 – 4 different businesses represented and all having clients in the retirement home I have worked in. These workers make little more than minimum wage and I have witnessed one worker having 17 clients to see in a 2.5 hour span of time. Do the math, that is 8 minutes per client allowed for a bed time or morning routine. As you read this you may have a better understanding of this news article from this morning’s headline.
What I have seen in the past 20 years is a societal pressure to warehouse our aging adults. It is simply understood that as soon as mom, dad or auntie shows signs of needing help at home, families choose to look for a way to move them into a retirement community of some sort thinking it is for the best for all concerned. This is often unnecessary. With some support many older adults can remain at home in an environment that is familiar and then, during times like we have just witnessed, are not a pawn in a game of holding them hostage in the premise of “keeping them safe.” What is safety? When is safety measures imposing on overall health and wellness? When is love compromised to the point that meaning and purpose for life is lost and depression and increased threat of death moves in. In this recent pandemic, many elders have only seen the faces of their care providers for months … missing family and slipping further into cognitive disease and losing valued memories. I have had arguments defending the elder because this is not fun to be feeling like you are imprisoned in a place where you pay to stay!
As an advanced care planner, personal support assistant, and end of life care provider I wish to ask you to consider seriously when moving and caring for the aging adult in your life. Take the time to investigate all possibilities and look at private home care. At an average of $4000 per month for retirement rooms, good private care is an option for all. I can help. Do the math, at $25 per hour for private care, $4000 buys you 160 hours per month or five hours of care every day, and your loved one stays in familiar territory and you have more ability to control germs and guests.
Today in the wee hours of the morning before I was really awake I was in my smoky time. That time in rest when I am between spiritual dream time and fully humanly conscious time. It is the time where I often get a question to ponder and write about before my morning tea or coffee. A question to ponder and dream on in what seems like hours but could only be minutes.
Today in the veiled time I was asked “what would you do if, today you awoke and knew it was your last day on earth?” Once the question is asked, I then spend some minutes in conversation with a dream. This meditative dream time is a knowing, an understanding, a peace that is given to me to set my heart to rest and a place where contentment is truly felt. This simple question might be scary or morbid, however when you are friends with mortality and live each day with a choice to understand that as we are born, we shall die to this human existence to live each day as if it is the last is the ultimate gift.
In this question, I thought about my grandsons and realized I would want to sit with them and simply watch them play. I would observe and honour them in their young ages and marvel at how life has not gripped them in that need to prove anything yet. I would watch them dream and play their day into being.
As a death doula I have come to an understanding about human life. This understanding is a place where if this was the last day on earth for me, that’s okay. I have faced the unfinished business and put to bed the things that create guilt and are fractious in life. In AA there is a step where you make amends and repair the relationships that have been broken due to a person’s drinking. This step is an important one to any person and, while saying I am sorry may seem easy to some, it is not. It is difficult and it is deep and it is a valuable step both for the person doing it and the receiver. One can ask forgiveness without realizing the depth to which this request will go. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” It is ephemeral, fleeting and yet so beautiful. It comes from a very deep place and forgiveness is not given or received lightly and mostly is an action of one forgiving oneself. Forgiveness is often unable to be given and evanescent to both the giver and the receiver. One’s life, in order to be fully happy, begins when we live in forgiveness and continues as the fragrance. When relationships need mending there are often many facets of brokenness. When one peels back the layers and puts forth the vulnerable underbelly of their heart, in this vulnerability is where relationships are full, strong and lasting.
Many years ago, I tended to a family and provided oversight to a daughter whose father died. They had been estranged for years and forgiveness had never been explored. The relationship had never been mended. I did not know him in life, I was brought on board after his death. I knew the daughter and the extended family. As I prepared the funeral service, I was given some insight about broken relationships and how sometimes the ability to mend them here in this time escapes us and the painful break is taken to the other side for healing. This often leaves one soul here and the other behind the veil trapped in a fractured existence. That is a tough place to live. When self-forgiveness is the fragrance then the air is sweet.
During my dreaming spiritual time this day as the question was asked, “what would you do today, if you knew it was your last day on earth?” I would do what I do every day. Seek the forgiveness I need to put my head down at night. I would be kind, loving and caring to every person I meet. I would step out in love and curiosity and wonder so at the end of the day there would be no stone unturned and no cheeks left unkissed. I might go and say a couple of silent goodbyes, I would hug my children knowing I have given good direction, raised them well and given them the planning for what to do and how to live on. I would hug my grandbabies a little harder and tighter and have them squirm and squeal, “let me go Gramma…” and I would smile. I would sit under a tree and listen to the wind and I would walk in the forest and hear the birds. I would eat a large bowl of ice cream and I would be thankful for my journey.
I would appreciate that I have finished my emotional business, said what I needed to say, repaired what was broken to the best of my ability, recognized the moments where I know I was obstinate, cranky, out of line, drunk and disorderly, unforgiving and simply arrogant. I would gather all the sunshine I could into my soul and plant seeds deeply into the darkness so I can grow something cool in the next adventure. As I await with blessed anticipation for the birth of my third grandchild any day now, I compare that wee baby’s unknown anxieties with my own. As they have no idea what is beyond the womb of my daughter, I have no idea what is beyond the womb of this earth. I can only imagine the next adventure and I choose to believe it is as beautiful and exciting as the family this baby is joining. I wonder what soul contract is in play in this tiny human.
So, if I was to know it is my last day on earth, I would live it like I do every day, with love, compassion, empathy, wonder, curiosity, fun, laughter, joy and most of all, faith.
Today I saw on the news reports how legions are looking at the final curtain. This saddens me while it also causes me to ask and wonder about natural endings. I personally belong to a chorus and this question has crossed my mind, is this the end of our chorus? As I read about book stores selling out of books it was not long ago when there was a vein of conversation about the written word and were books going to go extinct and now there is a surge of book reading.
This ebb and flow in our lives is real and it is evidence of the cycle of the life of beginnings and endings. Every day we witness beginnings and endings. Some are more obvious and more painful than others and some simply happen without us even noticing … beginnings and endings are inevitable each and every day. In being aware, it is our way of accepting and or coping that individuates and singles us out. The event itself may happen for many people and yet while some cope well, some struggle and some have a total meltdown. This is mental health awareness …. and this is how we observe and care for our fellow humans on this planet when we care for these experiences.
One of the first courses I took in the bachelor program in 2007 was Spiritual Journey, Rites of Passage, Honouring Life’s Changes and it was the roots of the work I do today. On our spiritual journey we find our way, individually, how to be in the world. The purpose and meaning of our own lives. Rites of passage, are the small ways that we celebrate and honour the endings in our lives to allow beginnings to flourish and be welcomed into the space where we live. Honouring life’s changes take living life with purpose and realizing everyday things are important and key to being happy and joy-filled.
This time of isolation has reset many things, of which I am personally happy about. I believe COVID in its essence has brought about change that is good. This virus has inadvertently brought us back to community, brought us back to our home plate, called the team home, and anchored us back in family and the root chakra. This virus has been a gift, although many will be challenged by this statement, I ask you to look around and see what has ended in your life and where new beginnings have taken root right under your very nose. While you were grieving, lamenting and hunkering there was a green shoot of hope springing up right beside you, in what you were perceiving as the darkness of Hades.
Alvin Toffler wrote in Future Shock, “Change is avalanching upon our heads and most people are grotesquely unprepared to cope with it.” That is the work I love to do …. help people cope with change. As I work in the space of personal awareness and living in this time and space in order to understand the future and the past I watch people blossom as they are given permission to simply be where they are and feel the grief, pain and sadness. To virtually hold the hand of the child that fearfully walks into the valley of death is a gift and an honour.
The 23rd Psalm reads, “Lo’ tho’ I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me … your rod and your staff protect me…” in ancient text there is much wisdom … experience is the gift of the divine energy to allow for purpose, meaning and passion for life to emerge. Step into your own experience and live in the valley of death so you can begin the new experience of heading to the next light filled peak!
As I awaken each morning there is a tree on the south side of the house that is visible from my bed through the window. I watch this tree each morning, 365 days a year, and now have watched it since 2017. That does not seem like a long time considering, not only my life of 60+ years but, this tree’s life of what might be many more! I do not know its history, how long it has been there or what it has seen. What I do know and all that is relative to me is what I have witnessed while looking the window at this tree.
Each morning as I awaken, open my eyes, stretch, I look for the tree. It dawned on me today I somewhat take it for granted that it will be there and sadness filled my heart knowing my brother recently had to take down a large beloved maple tree in his back yard because it had become dis-eased and was dangerously dying a slow death. It could have fallen on people and the house. They had doctored it, supported it, propped it and loved it however the day had come when end of life was upon them. The mourning started, planning vigil and saying goodbye was imminent. The tree has now transformed back to the land and the stump remains.
The sadness I feel for him as he looks at the stump came over me this morning as I appreciated my tree; I call it “my tree” even though it is not “mine” for many reasons. I looked out today and genuinely felt an overwhelming thankfulness for the tree and all that I have endured in the last years. This tree and I have seen storms aplenty and have both weathered them well. We have scars and wounds yet still stand strong.
Yesterday, I planted seedlings in the garden and left them there to take root and grow. I worried as I looked to the sky and the clouds were grey and dark. For the first time I feared a coming weather storm would pummel my precious seedlings. How do farmers stand it?! These seedlings are not my livelihood! The storm did not amount to anything last night so my seedlings have a chance to strengthen before they face another day.
This tree, these seedlings are precious reminders of life’s journey, spiritual awakenings and rites of passage. The tree gives me hope and strength that season after season it weathers whatever Mother Nature offers. My seedlings may live on or they may die in the elements; it is now out of my hands. I seeded them and they must survive on their own now. My children are in their 30’s with children of their own and my little seedlings have weathered and matured well. I am blessed. As the birds sing, now while I write, the tree sways, the sun shines, the earth rotates, and I am here in this moment where all that matters is at hand. I am exactly where I need to be … in the now! I have let go of all my seedlings, allowing the divine source, God if you will, spiritual guidance to take over and bring life where life is to be, leaving room for joy. Letting die where death is necessary and allow for mourning to take place. What will be will be revealed as we need to know it, all in perfect timing; no fear and no promise. The seeds of tomorrow have potential in them… plant them and let them go …
May you plant your seeds and let them go in love and faith, finding your own tree of assurance that all is right in the world and as it should be.
Sunday May 24th – 35 km cycling — Monday May 25th – 45 km cycling …
What does it mean to feel strong physically? It is when we are in a state of dis-ease that we struggle with motivation, finding passion and energy. I know that feeling. I have spent many days where I feel I cannot lift my head off the pillow …. I sit at the computer and just stare at social media and, when I was drinking, reconciled it was justified having a glass of wine with my lunch. I know what it feels like to be down, out, overwhelmed and depressed. I was dis-eased and out of sync with the world.
I chose to find passion and motivation again. It was hard some days and all I managed to do was to get out of bed and get dressed and go to work … that said, THAT is what saved me. The tiny habits of simply doing something, anything that can be celebrated. I love BJ Fogg’s approach to changing behaviour that in turn changes your life.
I did not start out cycling 35 – 45 kms in one go! I also did not start out running 10+ km in one go either. I vividly remember thinking to myself one day … “I cannot imagine running 10 kms.” and that was that. I could not imagine it so I never even thought about it. In March of 2017 my daughter had just birthed her first child and was beginning her training again to get back to where she had been pre-pregnancy. She is a runner, cyclist and swimmer; a triathlete. She said, “mom you should train for a tri-a-tri!” and with the birth of my baby grandson came the birth of my now routine. She had a baby and so did I! I began there. I could not necessarily imagine doing a tri-a-tri (350 m. swim, 10 kms bike, 2.5 km run) what I could imagine was training with my beloved daughter because she believed in me. I found this touched my strength inside.
That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with my fitness level …. it was a start! A change in my behaviour that changed my life. I began there. The first race I did was a 5 km and I walked and ran my way through it. The second race I did, again a 5 km, I ran as long as I could and then began walking … my daughter passed me and she regaled as she went by, “way to go Mom, you did 1.3 kms before walking!” I was elated … celebration time.
When we trust our strength inside of ourselves the well is deep. It is endless and the potential for successful living is exponentially increased. So exciting … it is possible. Since that season in 2017 I have completed a ½ marathon and have seven finisher medals and 15 bibs hanging on my wall. I have gone completely alcohol free and have passionately cleaned up my eating habits … except for ice cream! I love ice cream and I am 60 years old! I have dreams and aspirations to race around the world and will qualify for the world’s multi sport at some time when racing is happening again. Until then I look after me, I race with me, I run and bike for me with me and I have found my strength inside. You can too!
#womensfitness #runningaspassion #olderadultfitness #elderyearsfitness
Often when we are feeling lost or lonely it is very difficult to find life. Hard to see green shoots or hope, new growth … I love baking and making food for myself. I live alone and have developed a passion to care for me, with great food and exploration.
Most recently I have begun to sprout seeds. This shows me there is life everywhere… Bee happy … find life … watch for life around you and ask to see it. As one is grieving it is often that signs of life are lost. Imagining new life, watching trees sprout leaves and gardens pushing out shoots of green. Sprouting seeds in your kitchen to watching your house plants come to life. The simple act of watching will bring renewed hope and wellness to your heart and soul.
I am so entrenched in the chaos of this phenomena known as COVID-19 and the effect of the virus and its spread. What happens when we look at this as an amazing opportunity to restart and shift gears? This flower is in full bloom in my photo and yet was ephemeral in nature … I took the photo to freeze the blossom in time so I can look upon it with my eyes. That said, each time I look at it with my eyes it conjures up the moment in time when I laid my eyes upon it and so this flower, which no longer exists, is alive, well and real in my mind’s eye.
Like our loved ones that have passed through this human experience and the soul released from the flesh we can conjure them up simply by looking at a photo or touching something they once touched. They are alive in our hearts and souls. This is heaven. When a loved one goes to heaven … there we are. Heaven is a place of beauty, timelessness and soul quenching energy. We can visit whenever we choose.
#breakingstibah is about breaking the habit of limitation. Culture and society place upon us boundaries of what it means to live and we fall in line. Break those boundaries and erase those limitations. You are free and your spirit can be the source of your existence. Listen and hear the bloom in this flower …
Listen and hear the laughter of those gone before… Listen and hear the call of our ancestors who travel around us each and every day. The veil of the spirit world is so close we can taste it, should we choose to stick out the tongue of imagination, passion and desire.
#griefcafeBradford and #breakingstibah invite you to change, grow, push through the grief of your life and witness the spiritual flow that is at hand. Fall into the arms of divine spirit and rest your soul with love.
What is Grief?
Grief by definition is a keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret. Grief is our way of dealing with the losses in our lives and the deep sadness attached. Suffering through grief can be one of the biggest challenges we have to face in our life.
Grief can overwhelm our whole sense of being, the way we live our lives, and impact on our emotional, physical, psychological and behavioural well-being.
However these are all normal reactions to the pain of dealing with loss, and whilst there is no one way to grieve there are ways to understand what grief is, and how to react to it.
Grief is usually associated with the death of someone but can also be the result of:
- Any relationship breakdown
- Loss of employment including retirement
- Changing locations or moving
- The death of a pet
- Life threatening illness
- Any traumatic experiences
#griefcafeBradford allows people to find out:
- about grief and its impact
- and strategies to try and deal with it
We gather twice monthly in a safe and caring environment. Our sessions include time for sharing, meditation and teaching. Tools and techniques are helpful while grieving and learning how we store grief in the body explains our aches and our pains as well as our emotional distress. People can ask questions and gain information about grief and coping tools. There’s also the opportunity to talk to share space and time with others being a support while you are being supported.
Grief often is seen as being witnessed in five stages:
It has been studied and better understood that these stages ebb and flow, and while being listed in an order, often do not occur in the order listed here. A person can feel well and coping and something very simple sets off a whole new set of feelings and emotional overwhelm. This is when #griefcafeBradford can be of service and help.
The word “stibah” was inspired through my reading of the Harry Potter books this past year. I had pledged to read 12 books cover to cover in 2018 and, with my daughter’s probing, I decided to read the seven HP books. I am currently reading #6 The Half Blood Prince … I have completed more than my 12 self-promised books, some were audio as I was book reading the Harry Potter series.
In the first book there was the mirror of erised …. from the book comes this, “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi” At this point I am not going to go into what it all means. If you figure it out maybe it will interest you enough to find out more about my programs, teaching and leading. If you cannot see it, then come to my introductory program and you will learn what it is all about.
Walk with me,
Talk with me,
Share the journey with me.
Are you brave enough?
What if I show you everything you need to know?
The word “stibah” was inspired through my reading of the Harry Potter books.
In the first book there was the mirror of erised …. from the book comes this, “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi” At this point I am not going to go into what it all means. If you figure it out maybe it will interest you enough to find out more about my programs, teaching and leading. If you cannot see it, then ask and you will learn what it is all about.
Walk with me,
Talk with me,
Share the journey with me.
Are you brave enough?
What if I show you everything you need to know?