Unexpected Memorable ” Labels”

Dear Reader:

I have a few precious hours of alone time today and part of me just wants to sleep!

So I will throw some random thoughts today out in the universe. My brother Ben worked with mentally challenged children in the school system his whole career. He always preached about the error of labeling a mentally challenged child with such negativity that the label stuck forever.

One year he even had tomato soup cans outside his office to give to parents of mentally challenged children when they worked together to provide hope not labels.

And now ironically it is Ben who will soon be given a label that will determine where he will be placed for the best surroundings or as the Veterans Administration calls it-LOC-Level of Care.

And for all of you who have walked this path with a loved one-it ” ain’t” easy. Forms, forms, and more forms-every finding requires another finding and so on and so on.

I went down this same path with mother. I dreaded the day when she didn’t know my name or relationship. And it came… but not before another ” label” replaced it!

As I would enter the gathering room where every patient sat in a wheelchair staring at the entrance door… mom’s cohorts would shout ” There she is” and excitedly look at mother. Then mother would call out smiling ” There you are” and wiggle her fingers at me.

You know what? I remained “There you are” until mom died. You know what? That was just fine-I knew in my heart that I was the one Mom had been waiting for and that was enough!

So until tomorrow… start practicing building up your EQ -Emotional Quotient because in the end it is all that matters!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Think Twice Before You Call a “Barbour”

Dear Reader:

My StoryWorth question this week was to share some family genealogy. I chose my father’s Scottish side since I had more information on it.

The surname Barbour originated with the ancient Strathclyde-Britons. Barbour came from a term depicting a medieval barber who not only cut hair and gave shaves but practiced surgery ( especially amputations) and pulled teeth. A Jack of all trades!

Tidbit: This is why barbershops have the pole with red, white, and blue stripes- the look of the barber pole is linked to bloodletting with red representing blood, the pole symbolic of the stick that a patient used to squeeze to make the blue veins pop and white representing the bandages used to stem the bleeding.

The Barbours comprised the border clans between Scotland and northern England near the river Clyde. They held an ancient family seat in Northumberland and Cumberland lands. (Ironic that daddy ended up in Fayetteville North Carolina in Cumberland county. )

One ancient famous Barbour was John Barbour who wrote The Bruce-the story of the history of Robert the Bruce-Warrior King of Scotland. I gave Ben a rare copy for his birthday years back.

The other present famous family of Barbours are the manufacturers of the Barbour classic wax jackets- still manufactured by hand in South Shields today.

Barbour shirts have received three royal warrants ( endorsements) including warrant from Duke of Edinburg, her Majesty, the Queen, and the last warrant from the Prince of Wales.

Ben has been entertained by our ancestry as I have researched…he has some Barbour apparel. He loves history too!

So until tomorrow… I am concluding with the Barbour motto that is one of faith: Nothing but the Cross

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Feeling Lost in the Fog When Our Course Changes

Dear Reader:

Yesterday morning I had the best conversation with my brother in awhile-he could share his feelings more openly about the hospital experience and how frightening it was. He said the problem was that there was somebody new coming in every time the door opened and he couldn’t remember why he was there so none of the long explanations about different tests and results registered. He said hospitals should have one person who stays nearby and explains all the parts of the puzzle until the picture is complete. He’s right-in a perfect world every patient should have a patient advocate.

I was thinking about Ben’s course being changed so drastically …and by default loved ones. We are all realizing that the fog might take awhile to dissipate.

But one thing we can choose is to keep moving even if clarity and solutions can’t be seen through the fog yet. At times like this we have to trust that happiness is still out there waiting for us.

We have to have faith that one day all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and with that will come understanding that we wouldn’t be where we are now…had we not gone through these challenges and changes.

So until tomorrow May we look forward to the day the fog lifts, the light shines through and we can see clearly God’s design that brought us all here.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

We had fun at Ben’s party-Libby came down and that just made his day. She brought wonderful gifts -even a harmonica he started playing. We are just so thankful for any rays of sunshine and gaze upward to the skies and our Creator for His blessings!

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” Oh… it’s Just You!”

Dear Reader:

I sometimes have to laugh at the irony of the on-going debate over wearing masks! Personally I like them-don’t have to worry with make-up-just simply put on a mask and go… and it has been recommended by health personnel that I continue since my immune system is compromised.

But my thoughts on mask wearing go deeper. Whether we admit it or not we all wear masks. Emotional masks… the masks we hide behind because of fear…insecurity, loveless-ness, pretending to be fine when we aren’t.

But the scariest mask is the Imposter Syndrome Mask. We are afraid the world is going to discover we are a fake. Do you remember a neighborhood bully pulling off your Superhero mask-and then loudly shouting… ” Oh, it’s just you! ”

One of our greatest fears is that if we show our true selves, the world will say “Oh, it’s just you!”

There are three practical reasons why we should shed our emotional masks!

To live our potential

Relief! It is exhausting to live an inauthentic life.

The third reason is healing. Hiding behind masks cheats us out of a well-spent life.

So until tomorrow… ” Every creature has its rightful place, and in that place it becomes beautiful!”

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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” The End of Words”

Dear Reader:

I am slowly beginning to realize that I am not in control and never was. How easy it is to forget that on the grand time-line of life we humans are late-comers to the party. Yet don’t humans like to take credit for this life that existed billions of years before we appeared?

Author Michael Singer makes this observation: Life rarely unfolds exactly as we want it to. And if we think about it, that makes perfect sense. The scope of life is universal and the fact that we are not actually in control of life’s events should be self-evident. Yet we all continue to think that things should be the way we want them, instead of being the natural result of all the forces of creation God set in motion.

It is only when we surrender the reins of the world back to God and say two important words ” I Surrender” that we feel the weight of the world lifted off of our shoulders.

Madeleine L ‘ Engle explains it best with the expression ” the end of the words.” No longer are we trying to get the last word in… the last word back at God… instead we have reached the point where ” words break down and only silence and adoration remain in God’s Presence. “

So until tomorrow…Let us re- think the word ” surrender” and replace it with “trust” – trust that God can and will take care of us in our greatest hour of need.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Happy Birthday to my brother Ben! May God give him the best gift of all-His Presence when needed!

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Creating Moments of Joy

Dear Reader:

A major God Wink yesterday… a book that helped me with mother’s journey into dementia arrived by Amazon yesterday from Brookie- right after we hung up ! The latest new edition of Creating Moments of Joy. perfect timing Brooke!

The author lists the six types of moments along this rocky path -they are:

Defining Moments-Signs that tell you it’s time

Family Moments-understanding the strain the caregivers feel and how can all of them can best support the loved one in this disease.

Challenging Moments -Tricks how to lighten the load over the rocky times

Transitioning Moments-Recognizing the different transitioning stages and how to sustain and trigger memories

Enhanced Moments-Learning to create opportunities to enhance and structure a better moment

Final Moments-May we all grow spiritually and cherish the time and life lessons we learned

I can hardly wait to re-familiarize the creative ideas that feels like someone holding my hand.

I experienced one memory moment yesterday-Ben commented on mother’s picture in the other guest bedroom and he felt her with him. Twice now I have found Ben sitting on the bed just staring at her. I told him about the mysterious light that fell on her picture right after I hung it up. He loved the story and said he would look for the light again.

So until tomorrow… ” The amazing thing about life is that there are so many versions of yourself you get to experience.”

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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The Moods of Twilight

Dear Reader:

Today Twilight is my favorite time of day. There is nothing more serene than watching a sunset and listening to nature preparing to end another day with the animals and birds final sing-off of the day.

If I am fortunate to be at the beach and watching the ocean -well… life doesn’t get much better. But that hasn’t always been the case.

As a child at camp twilight was the worst time of day for the homesickness to creep in. Eva Cate just got home from St. Christopher and called me! She had a great time and loved the camp but confessed she had two bouts of homesickness in the late afternoon -twilight.

I told her she got my Boo Boo’s genes. I shared this story with her. After mother died and I was going through her desk… she had saved a letter from me from camp-I was about Eva Cate’s age and I wrote:

Dear Mom, I miss you so much and even miss my brothers a little. When the the sun goes down and the crickets start a’ cricketing I start a’ crying. ( there were ink blotches in the paragraph where my tears soaked the paper)

Eva Cate started laughing-she really did enjoy camp and especially loved learning to kayak and sail.

Now and then I catch a glimpse of Ben …and if caught off guard a pensive look resembling homesickness is spread over his face.

It is never home alone we miss-it is the sense of security and acceptance by those who have loved us we miss.

So until tomorrow…

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Learning to Breathe Again

Dear Reader:

I think one of the most emotionally challenging situations in life is losing a loved one mentally before physically. The loved one is there … but simultaneously not there. It is like looking at and listening to a big brother who was brilliant in his ideas and high standards academically fade away into a confusion of thoughts and memories battling each other.

The hardest part is seeing the glimpses of a little lost boy in the mix. A MRI showed a series of mini-strokes through out his brain -over time and several more recently-diagnosis-vascular dementia which will continue to happen. It might be slowed down with blood-thinners but not stopped-it is a progressive disease.

But then I know that-since I live in that world too but am cognizant of it with my metastatic breast cancer. …whereas my brother’s understanding waxes and wanes like the tides.

Lee is bringing Ben to my house for some temporary sanctuary while more permanent options are explored.

So until tomorrow… Help me help Ben in this unsettling transition. Caregiving often calls us to lean into a love we didn’t know possible.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Meeting Them Where They Are

Dear Reader:

The phrase ” meeting people where the are” has gained in popularity the past few years. What does this expression really mean? It means ” bridging the gap between your own expectations and where the other person is coming from. It means closely listening to understand their values, needs, desires, and even their trauma responses. It is a skill everyone should learn” ( Dawn Perez)

Being able to understand another’s position means holding back on negative judgment and instead taking time to objectively assess the situation and person’s personal position. With assessment one can get to the other person’s level to understand and interpret where they are and how best to help them.

Right now my family is dealing with this situation… it isn’t easy because people will rarely ask of you ” Meet me where I am.” We must take it upon ourselves to meet people where they are.

So until tomorrow novelist Brad Meltzer best sums up the situation with this quote-” Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Lee, Ben’s son left yesterday to visit his dad in Conway-The medical technicians are still running tests so Ben is still in the hospital. Hopefully tomorrow the results of all the tests will have been assessed and we will have a clearer picture of what is going on. Hopefully Ben will be released this morning so Lee can bring him to my house to help him recuperate. We could use some prayers please! Thank you!

* Mother, Ben, and Lee ( photo)

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Finding Time for Happiness

Dear Reader:

One of our greatest challenges in life is finding inner happiness. It isn’t that we don’t know how to find it…we simply don’t make time for inner happiness, contentment and joy.

We know what to do… we simply don’t do it. Too many times we let ourselves get lost in activities that put everyone’s needs in front our own. Slowly the joy of life begins draining away. We know what would make us happy but then we feel guilt over putting our own needs first.

Haven’t we all been stuck in this mud mire of hopelessness at one time or another? But been ashamed to seem selfish with our time-making time to be happy?

Robert Puff, Ph.D throws an interesting perception on the situation. By giving ourselves permission to fill our own cups, we can then give to others around us.

Think about Psalm 13 … ” My cup runneth over. ” Not only do we have enough for ourselves but plenty left over to share with others.

That’s the key. We can’t give from our own emptiness. .. that’s a sure path to burn-out. Giving time to ourselves enables us to give to others.

So until tomorrow…Let’s make time for happiness. It does take time, it does take effort, but the rewards are truly countless.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Let me share some of my garden happiness with you-my blooms runneth over!

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