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.

Camp, Revisited

I spent four days at Life is a Verb Camp with Patti Digh last weekend. This third time was different, partly because I dragged my husband along to help me carry heavy presses and type and partly because I’ve changed.

The weekend is a safe place for everyone, regardless of personality type, gender, religion, culture, or heritage. Usually, I attend it all– the small creative workshops, the loud, boisterous talent show, the speakers. But this weekend, I listened to my heart, my head, and my stomach– all three told me to spend time away from the crowds. On one hand it was hard. I love these people. But I also have had a difficult  fall, and I knew that socializing, even with kind, good people, was not going to be easy for me.

Instead I read and wrote, walked about the camp looking at colors, and explored Hendersonville. NC. The few times I connected restored me– sharing my love of letterpress, meeting new people over meals in the dining room, and spending a few moments with poet Toi Derricotte ( joy). I wish some of these folks lived closer so we could meet in small groups!

But no regrets. I am glad I went (stopping along the way to see my “traveling friends” in Charlotte– so much fun!)

We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly – spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.
Susan L. Taylor