Blog

Stories worth remembering. . .

7/10/2019

Last night I attended an event at the Quatrefoil Library in Minneapolis in which community writers shared their essays that reflected their memories and primogeniture from the age of AIDS.  In particular, they were remembering the year, 1981, the year we identified the virus at the root of the AIDS epidemic.  Each of the writers had been touched in some way by that virus and its aftermath. Most were old enough to have lived through the “Age of AIDS” but there were also younger gay people who spoke to the continued marginalization, the ongoing issues their community members face just finding their way to be themselves.

1981 brought a lot of things to our attention beside the identification of a virus.  America’s Iran Hostage Crisis ended, Anwar Sadat, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president of Egypt was assassinated, the Space Shuttle Columbia took its first flights and we heard the word, internet, for the first time when Microsoft released their MS-DOS operating system. Also that year, Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, The Prince of Wales. It was a busy year.

The evening at Quatrefoil took me back to my own experiences in the early eighties. I did not arrive in the Twin Cities until 1985, and by then, the AIDS epidemic was in full swing.  I found myself drawn to the overwhelming needs that I saw in my new community.  I worked for the Ramsey County AIDS roster as a public health nurse. I volunteered for the AIDS Project when it was just an answering machine in a closet. And later, I helped to establish the AIDS Emergency Fund, Every Penny Counts, to financially assist PWAs (People with AIDS) meet basic needs.

My own “stories” from the early 80s came to mind.  Some of the names the writers mentioned were men that I remembered too.  It was good to be reminded of those days – not because they were good times, but because they were life-altering times.  The events we all experienced during the Age of AIDS changed us, and the world around us, forever.

I remember being invited to address an audience of family caregivers, over 100 people arrived, ready to listen to the nurse who would teach them how to manage the home-care needs of the people they loved, the people who were dying in front of them, from a disease we barely understood. I had not, at that time, ever been a family caregiver, but I knew the home-care routines they’d need to adopt and those things I could teach them.

Now, I see myself immersed in the awareness of how being a family caregiver changes us – and being one myself – and I realize that the writers in front of me last evening are still carrying the burden, the pain, the residual grief that defined the whole of their lives nearly forty years ago.  Caregiving changes you. It moves you outside yourself and brings out the best (and often the worst) in the family member who carries out this work.

We often define family too narrowly.  Back in the eighties, I learned about family of origin and about family of choice.  The people we love most, even if we share no blood or DNA ties, are our most beloved family members – with them, we share our heart. 

Who do you include in your family of choice? How are you showing up for them? What do they need from you? What do they provide for you? How can we be our best selves, especially when care is called for?

Manifesting my life. . .

7/3/2019

What does it mean to “manifest” or attract the things you desire?  You may have read The Secret or be familiar with the Law of Attraction.  These are explanations for that state of affairs in which the energy we put out into the world magnifies itself and returns to us in a similar fashion.  Put out love and kindness, get love and kindness in return.  Most folks call it Karma.

Recently, a whole bunch of amazingly good things have come into my life – large and small – some have been brought by people (old friends and new acquaintances) others by organizations, still others have seemed to simply “show up” on my doorstep.  Here are just some of those good things. . .

  • The apartment in the lower level has been cleaned, painted, re-carpeted and cleansed & I believe I have a buyer ($100) for the used furniture making room for more fresh energy there!
  • I was offered the perfect part-time job that will start later this summer (just as the State’s Unemployment Insurance evaporates).  I will provide services as a  project coordinator and work-flow manager – exactly what I wanted as I launch a business of my own!
  • An abstract I submitted for Nursing Education Research Conference 2020, “What Prompts Nurses to Introduce Integrative Approaches to Care?,” (based on a research project done while at Fairview) has been selected for an oral presentation; Conference is in Washington, DC from March 26 to 28, 2020.
  • The book (I’ve worked on for a year) is fully drafted and off to peer-reviewers. It is due to be sent to the publisher early in August. We just selected cover art (which looks surprisingly like my new business card!).
  • I’m being considered as a speaker for an event at Ebenezer (Fairview) in the fall.
  • I’m being considered as a speaker for the Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group in October.
  • As I’ve written here before, I’ve found a web-master (high school/college student extraordinaire!)
  • I’ve learned that I can rent (pretty cheaply) rooms at the Senior Center and at the Eden Prairie Community Center for both my school needs (coaching) and for community presentations.  I’m a little nervous but, my intuition is saying I should book some “getting to know you” sessions with my community to introduce the ideas of self-care for family caregivers and the benefits of health coaching.

My question is – am I manifesting these things?

I don’t want to get in my own way here, but I am a little uncertain about what differentiates manifestation from the fruits of diligent, hard work!?!  It feels like a lot has come quickly – so, it’s hard to know where the hard work stops (having done all it can) and the manifestation begins!  I don’t know the answer, but I am increasingly a believer that what we put out into the world returns to us, magnified and with abundance!

What gets YOUR juices flowing?

6/26/2019

What gets my juices flowing is to imagine that my efforts may genuinely benefit someone else.  I’m a caregiver at heart and always have been.  It was good social-preparation for becoming a nurse ages ago and it serves me well today in the role of “helper” of any kind. 

This week I got a jolt of energy when a colleague returned my call and set up a time for us to meet.  He is a wizard at his craft – hospice care – and he has exactly what I need (inside his head) to help me finish the book I’ve been writing.  I heard him speak last winter and I knew then that his way of understanding how we (humans) react and respond in grief was precisely what my readers need to hear.

Later this week, I’ll sit down with him and “pick his brain” so to speak, so that I can translate his years of wisdom in the field of death and dying into practical tools that my readers can understand and use.  It will be an amazing conversation, I’m sure! 

This book has been a labor of love for nearly a year now.  I know it has the capacity to help other people – caregivers – deal with the common stressors that plague us when we take on the caregiving responsibilities for someone we love. The book cannot be an “everything you need to know about. . .” sort of book, but it can be a starting place for people who are stuck. 

Many caregivers experience their role as one of obligation – “I have to do this!” That sense of obligation itself can add to the burden they feel.  Add to that the tendency to want to do everything (even caregiving) perfectly, and you have a recipe for stress and strain that would wear down any one of us!  Those are the folks I want to help.  First with my book, Self-care Strategies for Family Caregivers, and later with my coaching practice.

What gets your juices flowing? Maybe like me, it is helping someone else.  Maybe it is something else entirely. Be sure to figure out what it is because, getting your juices flowing and keeping your juices flowing (for a lifetime) is what life is all about – getting ourselves up each day, so we can go out and be juicy!

Knowledge is power. Except when it’s not.

6/19/2019

So when is knowledge NOT power?  When it triggers an unhealthy, automatic response in us that disables the power that COULD be available and makes us conflicted instead.

What kind of trigger could be so unhealthy and disabling?  For me that would be the automatic response of SHOULD, OUGHT and MUST.  Anytime I learn something (gain knowledge) and it triggers one of those responses for me, I know I’ve given away my power and accepted something much less.  Sometimes, I let that loss of power invite conflict – and not creative conflict, either!

What does this look like? Well, consider these bits of knowledge and the SHOULD, OUGHT, or MUST they might generate. . .

I step on the scale and learn I’ve gained weight – “I MUST mind what I’m eating and get this %$#@^% weight off, and soon!”  Instead, I might say, “Okay, now I know what I can do to create the change I want!”

I open my bank account and learn that an autopay I’d arranged has put me into overdraft – “I SHOULD have seen this coming! How stupid of me to let that happen!” Instead, I might say, “Great job with the autopay arrangement, but I need to flag my calendar for timing in the future!”

I realize that I’ve missed an appointment, just because I didn’t check my calendar in a timely way – “I OUGHT to be more careful! Now I’ll have to wait weeks to find another appointment!” Instead, I might say, “Everyone makes mistakes, and even now, everything is unfolding in its right timing – I’ll apologize and reschedule!”

We make choices each time we learn or discover something new (which is a bit of knowledge).  We can turn that knowledge into power or into defeat, just by managing our self-talk.

What have you learned today, what knowledge have you gained that COULD produce power in your life? How will you speak to yourself about that knowledge so that you can be the powerful person you were meant to be, in every aspect of your life?

Gifts!

6/12/2019

This week an enormously generous gift was given to me, a young man, whom I met at a conference, and who is not even entirely done with high school yet, began to build the website for Co-Create 4 Life!  Clearly, the skills he possesses are generational – a Boomer like me could study for hours and not be capable of what he can do in minutes – but they are also very personal skills, given the way he chooses to use them.  He told me he’s been building websites (mostly for others) since he was twelve.  His preference is to work with clients who are not so much out to “sell” something but committed to helping other people.  That is why, he said, “You’re exactly the kind of client I want to help!”

I was very moved by his dedication to his craft.  The work is not done yet, so don’t go hunting for Co-Create4Life.com just yet but, you can look for it soon, and I’ll be sure to announce its launch here!  Watching him work made me think, who am I intent on serving?  Two kinds of clients come to mind.  The first are people who are family caregivers, conscripted into the work of seeing others through a time of illness, long or short. The second sort of client is the healthcare professional who, amid the chaos that is the modern healthcare system, may feel abandoned, uninspired and ready to burn-out. I am hoping that Co-Create 4 Life will have an impact on people in both of these situations.

What about you? Who are you called to help?  Are you making an effort to reach them and offer what you do best to lighten their load?  Each of us has a gift to share. What are you doing with yours?