Any Animal, Any At All

My mom knows this– petting any animal brings her joy. I’m a big believer in the serenity animals can bring. They lower stress by releasing the hormone oxytocin.

I wonder if printing does this for me, too.  I know. It sounds silly, but there is a calm that takes over. Perhaps it is the focus or maybe it simply takes my mind away from stress to something pleasurable.

These days we need to work hard not to let our emotions be hijacked. Nourish yourself with whatever takes you back to you.

The Passing of Time

This blog, started in 2005, has always been a place for me to reflect upon my life, whatever I am dealing with or learning about. At 66, that reflection has softened and widened.

The first few years (which I lost when I moved my blog to wordpress) focused on learning to run. I went from someone who couldn’t run more than a minute to a 50 year old who ran five half-marathons. Those were proud moments. I also experienced an online community for the first time. Is it dramatic to say this changed my life? It did.

Phase two: I learned all I could about the internet, finishing a master’s in instructional technology.  I was an early adopter, and I often faced challenges and push back from my teachers as I tried to help others learn to use technology in the classroom. But I was a true believer, and I started a laptop program in my school, the second in the state. Once again, community helped me learn about wifi, cables, programs and apps, and how to best serve students. I still laugh when I think about downloading Manilla to our server to be able to have my first blog!

Why did I ever think I could be a poet? But I did. So the next few years I wrote about writing, publishing, and writing groups. Though I no longer write poetry, I renewed my love of words and still read and share verse often.

Upon retirement, I began letterpress printing, which brought together my love of words and quotes and a new passion for learning an old skill. Printing brought me back into community with caring folk, both young and old, who share their knowledge and love of letterpress.

These days, I am beginning to write about Alzheimer’s and the difficulties of caring for my mom, who is suffering. I write “suffering” because she is in the stage of knowing how much she has lost, yet still mentally “with us.” I try to balance what is best for her with what she wants— and it’s not an easy dance. Once again, I reach out, knowing there are others who have walked these steps.

For all the negatives of social media-and there are many-I am grateful for the community of friends and thankful for the support. As Mary Oliver says, “how miraculously kind some people can be.”

 

“Halleluiah”
by Mary Oliver

Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started!

And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you decided that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years.

Halleluiah, I’m sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.

 

Listen to Those Feelings

I printed this card recently. In trying not to be so hard on myself (listening to the voice that says, “you’re not doing enough), I attempted to block the emotion.

The truth is that sometimes we need to listen to the voice, even if only for a minute or two.  Nancy Jane Smith writes about this here, saying “what if there is no happy ending?” And, of course, for me with mom, there isn’t. Her dementia will worsen. One day, she won’t know who I am. Even if she does, she won’t for long as her memory seems to last about an hour these days.

What if that thought is actually freeing? What if that means you can stop hustling, reframing, pretending, changing your thoughts and changing your vibrations all the time? What if you could just be whatever you are without always trying to find the happy ending?”

I have struggled the last ten years to unlock a lifetime of emotions. Yes, I wish I had started earlier. Don’t we all? But dealing with these feelings now is freeing, as Smith says. I hope printing and sharing my cards helps others deal with theirs, too.

Dementia has taught me much about the brain, memory, thinking, and feeling. Grief has its own gifts.

Storms Ahead?


As I headed into an appointment today, I glanced over my shoulder.
I was hoping this was not a metaphor for my life, or a sign of what was coming. My Mom has Alzheimer’s, or at least dementia that gives her very little memory. I never know from day to day if she will need me, or if I will have to make some life changing decision about her care. Yesterday, I did.

We are moving her again to a different facility. These changes are hard on people with memory issues, but as her caregiver, I often need to make these difficult decisions. So, storms are on the horizon. But, perhaps we will get a reprieve. Perhaps the clouds will pass, and she will settle in. That’s really all I want for her. A way for the end of her life to be calm. For her to know I love her.

I printed this yesterday, and the work gave me a chance to pause.