Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To Ski or Not To Ski

That is the question.....

Because of the fact that I live in a state known for its mountains and the skiing I get asked if I ski. I get asked it A LOT!

But the sad truth is I have never been a ski bunny. Oh, I tried. I hit the slopes several times...usually pretty hard ;-)

I am not terribly graceful on my own two feet. Add skis and poles and slippery snow it makes for a very precarious situation for all the other unsuspecting folks on slopes.

My first time on the slopes my friend and I took a basic lesson. We practiced on the bunny slope. Then we decided to brave the mountain. I promptly knocked her down while getting in the ski lift. We did make it to the top of what was supposed to be a green slope aptly named for those like me who are green and haven't done much skiing. It was pretty steep, I thought, for a green slope and it had a turn in it!

I got to going way too fast and all I could see was the area where my slope merged with another and the trees on the other side. Back in those days we didn't pay as much attention to safety so there was no helmet on my head to protect my precious brains.

I saw a sign in the snow and reached out for it in hopes of slowing down. But, the durn thing was only stuck in the snow so as soon as I grabbed the sign it flew up in the air. No help at all.

Finally I decided to fall down so I wouldn't run into the trees. As I tumbled screaming bloody murder I lost a ski and landed in a heap further down the slope. At that point there was nothing left to do but laugh. So I did.

That is where one very panicky ski patrol lady found me. Based on the curdling scream I let out she was expecting blood and brains all over the slope and all she found was me laughing like a hyena.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, yes I am. Could you help me up?"

She unhappily helped me up and I asked, "Can you go up there and get my other ski?"

With an exasperated huff she did that funky little sideways ski walk up the hill, grabbed my ski and brought it to me.

As I put it on she admonished me, "You need to be more careful. AND SLOW DOWN."

What could I say; trying to slow down was what got me in that situation in the first place. My ski day ended very quickly after that when I discovered my ski slope affinity was more to the sitting in the lodge sipping hot chocolate than for swooshing down the slopes.

I tried a couple more times, but never really got the hang of it and once my friends hear this story they usually don't want to help me get the hang of it :-)

Circa 1986 - One of the times I was actually on my skis and not on the ground!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Day That Changed My World

The sun is high the sky as I head out to meet Mara at the market. I had finished my chores in record speed so we could have all afternoon to enjoy.

There is an awful lot of noise in the square this afternoon; not the usual noise of merchants hawking their wares. This is yelling and angry voices. I wonder what is going on. As I round the corner I see a huge crowd and there is Pilate standing on the stairs. Making my way to the front of the people I keep looking for Mara. There is a lot of murmuring, but I don’t know what it is all about.

“They say he performs miracles.”

“He is possessed of a demon; that’s why he can cast them out.”

“But did you hear he raises people from the dead?”

“I heard he was going to tear down the temple and build it back up in three days. Such nonsense.”

“Sara, Sara, over here.” Hearing my name I turn to the left and see my friend.

“Mara, what is going on?” I yell out to her as I push past others to make my way to her side.

Mara’s eyes are wide with fear. “They have arrested that man they call Jesus and Pilate is investigating.”

I had heard of this Jesus before. He had been traveling in the area and drawing a lot of attention. People either loved him or hated him. I didn’t know what the fuss was all about.

The noise quiets down as Pilate begins to speak, “I find this man guilty of no capital crime. I will order a flogging and release him.”

The uproar around Mara and me is horrendous. When it quiets down Pilate speaks, “Very well then as is the custom, I will release one prisoner. Should I release Jesus or Barabas?”

“Barabas, Barabas, Barabas.” The crowd roars back to Pilate.

“Mara, I can’t believe it. Barabas is a murderer and they want to let him go free. That is crazy. They haven’t proven Jesus guilty of anything as bad.” Something wasn’t right here and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“I know Sara, it is so sad.”

“What should I do with Jesus?” Pilate questioned the crowd.

“Crucify him!”

We watch in disbelief as they put a crown of thorns around Jesus’ head and lead him out of town. I know where they are taking him and I’m not supposed to go there. My parents don’t allow me to hang out at the Skull like some of the kids do. They said I don’t need to know what happens there, but I know that is where they take prisoners to die. I know I will get in trouble but I can’t stop myself. I have to see what will happen to the man with the crown of thorns.

Mara and I run to follow them as they make Jesus carry his heavy wooden cross. As we go we hear people talking about him. It seems there were as many who were upset at this turn of events as those who want him to die.

People talk of his compassion and how he heals the sick. They talk of love and beauty. Surely it wasn’t the same man they spoke of.

I see Jesus fall and go to help him up. They take his cross and find someone to help him carry it. I use my robe to wipe away the sweat and blood from his face. “Jesus, why is this happening? I hear great things about you, but they are going to kill you for no reason.” The tears flowed and I couldn’t stop them.

“Oh, little one, don’t be sad. This is my father’s work. I must do this.” The big brown eyes are full of light and something else. They look the way my daddy’s look when he looks at me. It seems Jesus loves me. Could it be?

“But Jesus, you have done no wrong. I don’t want you to go. I want to get to know you.” I sob and sob as he holds me in a tight hug.

Just then he is ripped from my arms by one of the soldiers. “Move along brat. You don’t need to be here.”

Jesus is pulled way as he says, “Child, do not worry. I will see you again in heaven. I do this for you.”

When we all arrive at the Skull there are two prisoners already hung on wooden crosses. The soldiers begin to nail Jesus to his cross. My heart aches each time the hammer comes crashing down.

“Oh Mara, this hurts so much.” I turn to my friend. She looks at me with tears in her eyes.

We sit there for hours on that dusty hill as the crowd taunts Jesus and tells him to save himself. “If you are the King of the Jews take yourself down from the cross.”

I cover my ears to drown out the horror but it seeps in.

It seems like an eternity when suddenly Jesus cried out. “It is finished.” And then he died. The sun was blotted out and suddenly it is dark. Mara and I sit and hold each other. As I cry I remember what Jesus said. He had done this for me. He died a painful, awful death for me. Just so I could be with him in heaven.

Later they take Jesus’ body down and put it in a tomb. The place of the Skull is silent again. Mara and I head home.

Over the next few days I go about my chores, but can’t stop thinking about Jesus dying for me. He said he was doing it for me. I wasn’t sure I understood, but somehow that made my heart happier.

Three days after his death I am at the well to get water in the early morning hours when a man approaches me. He looks familiar. “Sara, it is good to see you.”

“How do you know my name? Do I know you?” I search his face which is wreathed in bright light. When I get to his eyes I see the love and compassion and I know. “Jesus, is that you? How is it possible? I saw you die.” I run to him and hug him.

“Sara, you did see me die. But, today I have conquered death. I am as alive as you are and I will soon go to heaven with my father to wait for you.”

Oh my goodness. This is too good to be true. Jesus is alive! “Come with me to tell Mara. She will be so excited.”

“I must go to my friends, but we will stop at Mara’s on the way.” Jesus takes my hand and we head down the road to town to spread the news.

Jesus is alive! Death could not hold him in the grave!!!

This story is based on a true story. You can read of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the new testament of the Bible. I wrote this story based on a very personal experience I had on March 29, 1997.

I grew up in a Christian home and I had lots of head knowledge about Jesus. Intellectually I knew what the Bible taught about Jesus and that he died to save us all from sin. But, that’s all it was, head knowledge. On that night in 1997 I sat in an auditorium in a little church in the middle of a farmer’s field outside of Lebanon, OR. The months leading up to this day were so hard and I had reached a point where something had to change. I couldn’t keep going the way I was.

The program that night was a re-enactment of Jesus’ life and death. As I watched the actor portraying Jesus whipped, beaten, and crucified the story came alive for me. For the first time in my life I realized Jesus was a human just like me. He was fully God, but fully man. As a child I always believed that meant he died on the cross, but he was God so it didn’t hurt. That night I knew that as a man he felt every blow. He died a slow agonizing death as the weight of his body crushed the breath out of his lungs. He suffered and he did so that I might have eternal life. I could imagine myself at the foot of the cross hearing Jesus say, “I did this for you that you may live with me in heaven.”

He did it for me while I was still a sinner. He didn’t require that I clean up my act or stop swearing at other drivers while driving. He knew all of my sin and bad habits. Still, he loved me, he knew me that day on the cross and he chose to die for me. When he asked me to come along with him how could I not?

Don’t get me wrong; he loves me as I am, but he expects that love to change me. So, my sins, my bad habits, my swearing at other drivers were not to be left alone. He has continued to love me as he has encouraged me to change. I am not perfect. Those who work with me know that I still swear way more than I should, but knowing Jesus has changed me and continues to change me.

Today I am 13 in Christ and as any teenager I have gone through some tough spots. I have rebelled and I have suffered consequences. But, I am here to tell you that today Jesus still loves me. He hasn’t stopped even through my adolescent angst.

But there’s more to this story. He didn’t just die for me. He died for you too! He loves you just as you are right now. All he asks is that you believe in and trust him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

8 Common Types of Dementia

Recently someone told me something as if it was new information; they apologized for not telling me sooner. This person is busy and had mentioned it to me in passing. When I gently reminded them of that they said, "You know I have dementia."

The thing is this person doesn't have dementia. They are a normal, over busy 40 something and just didn't recall telling me. It happens. I know because it happens to me. Once a friend told me, "I love that story every time you tell it."

People tend to over simplify dementia and classify it as memory loss. In reality it is much more than that. And, there are different types of dementia that present differently. Some dementia causes short term memory loss while other forms cause people to forget how to do every day things. The type and cause of dementia makes a difference in the symptoms.

Today I was sent an email that had a link to a short article on 8 different types of dementia and their differing symptoms. You can read the article here

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh My Stars! She Loves Her Cars!

Yesterday was warm, sunny, and beautiful. It was somewhere around 70 degrees out there. I had the pleasure of leaving work at noon and heading 40 minutes north of my office to have lunch with my dear friend. It was lovely as I cranked up the tunes and enjoyed a nice drive in the sunshine.

Today I drove home in heavy, wet snow coming down sideways and making travel very unhappy. It wasn’t lovely at all and there were no tunes that could make it better. Spring time in the Rockies!

But, here’s another little tidbit of Tamara Trivia ‘cause I know you have been waiting patiently for more. I really like to drive. I am not fond of traffic, but I love a good road trip. There is just something about the open road that draws me in.

My sister once told me I should be a truck driver or a race car driver. Couldn’t drive a big truck since they are so cumbersome, but now a racecar would be just about right for me. Not that I drive fast…well, there was that one time when I got a warning. Oh, and the time I got a not so wonderful ticket. Okay, I probably have some lead in my right foot. What’s a girl to do!?!

Honestly, my love affair with cars and the road started as a teenager. Daddy brought home that ugly brown thing and told me it was my new car.

Very seriously I said, “It’s ugly Daddy. I wanted a cute red car.”

“It’s a good car and it’s in my budget.” Dad responded and then without missing a beat, “If you would like something cute and red you can go shopping.”

Woohoo! A girl knows how to work her Daddy!

“Don’t forget to take your checkbook."

Hearing those words (and knowing the checkbook was full of checks, but the bank was bereft of money) I slowly turned and looked at the ugly brown thing. “You know, Daddy, he is kind of cute. I think I love him.”

Thus began my love affair with Harvey. We had three great years of adventures before his age began to show and all too soon it was over. There was nothing special about Harvey. He was your typical beater car that is perfect for a teenager just starting out. Still, he ignited a passion in me that burns to this day.

After Harvey became terminal and had to be put out to pasture there were a stream of cars that just didn’t measure up.

There was Grannyada that garnered much ribbing from my 20 something friends who couldn’t resist harassing me about the plastic on the back seats. It had been the family car and with four kids and a dog the plastic was an upholstery saver.

Charlie came next when my sister bought her first new car and I was given her old car. Charlie was a boat built in the 70s with a V6 engine. Charlie accompanied me on that 90 mph trip to Raton one summer.

The next two mediocre cars didn’t have names and failed to inspire me. Then there was a car to rank right up there with Harvey. Henry Honda drew me to him in 97 and reignited the passion in driving. He was sleek and handsome and caught many an eye as we darted around town.

Sadly his life was cut short one snowy November night in 2000 and my heart grieved for the loss. I thought it might have been the end of my love of the open road.

For months after that night I was unable to look in my rear view mirror for fear that the person behind me wouldn’t stop. Loud back fires caused me to jump. My joy just wasn’t there. In the weeks after the accident I purchased a good dependable family car. It fit the bill for getting me from point A to point B but never elevated my drive time to Henry or Harvey levels. I mourned for the loss of my love of driving.

Thankfully The Sheriff came into my life last year and renewed my driving spirit. The Sheriff is a far cry from either Harvey or Henry. The small size of Harvey and the sleek sportiness of Henry aren’t part of the package. Passion and joy in driving, though, are part of the package. Finally a vehicle that inspires me again; life is good.

So, now you know. I love my cars and I am not ashamed to admit it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Love Finds You

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain. ~Louisa May Alcott

It’s true! Books have turned my brain! I have recently discovered author, Melanie Dobson. Well, I didn’t discover her in the sense of being astounded by her writing and setting her on the path to authorship. However, when we became Facebook friends and I realized she was an author I had to read her work. The other night at a big name box store that I hate to shop at I found Melanie’s book Love Finds You in Liberty Indiana. I went there to look at cameras and was disappointed in that endeavor. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed in Melanie’s book.

Love Finds You in Liberty Indiana held two levels of appeal for me – both of my parents are from Southern Indiana; the majority of my extended family still lives there and the book is a historical fiction work set in the 1800s. I have always enjoyed early American history and toyed with being a history teacher for a brief period of time during junior high and high school. Someday I hope to write a historical fiction novel.

The 1800s were a tumultuous time in the history of our country. Slavery had caused a rift between the northern states and the southern states and the rift was widening. Northern abolitionists took it upon themselves to help runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad. They put their own safety in jeopardy to fight for what they believed was right. In September of 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act was passed making it a punishable crime to aid a fugitive slave. This made it all the more dangerous for those people attempting to help. And, it made it hard for even people who had been freed from slavery and were living in the northern states. Slave hunters could at any time with very little proof pick up a freeman and sell them back into slavery.

Anna Brent and her father Edwin Brent own a mill on the outskirts of Liberty Indiana. Unbeknownst to their neighbors and friends they are conductors on the Underground Railroad. Their goal is to help as many slaves on their route to seek freedom in Canada.

Despite the risk of their own exposure they continue to work to help the slaves. When Daniel Stanton, an outspoken abolitionist, comes to town Anna is attracted to him and his ability to speak out against wrongs. Aligning herself with him, though, would put her work on the Underground at risk.

The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act further endangers Anna’s work. Her secrets may be exposed and if that happens her station on the Underground will be closed. As pressure rises Anna finds herself in a situation of needing to trust someone. Will she be able to continue her work even when the risk to her own life is so great?

Love Finds You in Liberty Indiana is a beautiful story of one girl’s desire to make a difference. For me the mark of a good book is when the story or information touches my life and inspires me. Melanie’s story definitely did that.

To find out more about Melanie and her writing visit her web site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

You Know You're a Writer

I saw this first over on the Scribble Chicks  blog and had a good chuckle at some of these so I wanted to share them. If you haven't visited the Chicks blog you really should. They offer some good advice and support for writers.

• You would rather talk to the voices in your head than the person sitting next to you.

• You know the research librarian’s office, cell and home phone numbers but can’t remember your own.

• Some of the letters on your keyboard are completely worn off.

• You would rather write than go out.

• Your/you’re and their/there/they’re errors send you into an apoplectic fit.

• You get cranky if you don’t get to write.

• You’ve ever said, “The voices are getting louder; I must go write.”

• When talking with others, you mentally edit their dialogue and compose tags and beats.

• You’ve heard/seen something and thought, I need to write that down.

• You’ve ever written a scene, outline, synopsis or character sketch on a restaurant napkin . . . and it wasn’t a paper napkin.

• You wake up in the middle of the night and scramble for the pen and paper you keep next to your bed to write down a scene to make the voices be quiet so you can get some sleep.

• You end an argument with your spouse by saying, “Oh, wait, I have to write this down–this is the perfect conflict for my characters! Now, repeat what you just yelled.”

• Getting the scene finished is more important than food, coffee or the bathroom.

• You have a momentary reality lapse and mention your characters’ situation as a prayer request in Sunday school.

• A blank wall becomes the screen where the scene you’re writing takes place right in front of your eyes.

• The easiest way for you to deal with conflict is to go home and write it into your story.

• You have filed and cross-referenced every issue of The Writer and Writer’s Digest you’ve ever received.

• You purposely eavesdrop when out in public.

• At parties, your method of making conversation is to discover people in the room with interesting occupations (preferably your hero’s or heroine’s) so you can conduct research.

• You listen to the writer’s commentary on every DVD so that you can analyze his/her writing process.

• You have a favorite line from every movie you’ve seen.

• You can’t write because you’re mad at one of your characters.

• You argue with said character.

• You have a folder on your computer labeled “Ideas.” Some of the files within this folder have only one or two words or sentences and while they made perfect sense fifteen years ago, between the software changes in that period of time garbling half the words and your own faulty memory, you have no idea what it means or where you were going with it. But you keep it anyway because you never know, you might remember it eventually.

• You drive three hours to a city where you don’t know anyone, spend another three hours driving around the city, then drive three hours home and decide NOT to set your story there.

Yep, I definitely can relate to some of these!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Forbidden Territory

I love my Wilson. He pretty much runs the house and I let him get away with a lot. The few rules I have are that he's not allowed on the kitchen counters, the dining room table, or the piano. Other than that he has full reign of the house.

Lately, he has been blatantly snubbing the rules and jumping up on the piano. It is almost as if he is testing me. He sits in front of it, looks at me and then at the piano. I can see in his eyes what he is thinking. And just like that he leaps up and perches on the piano.

Last night as I shooed him down I couldn't help but think how much like Wilson we Christians sometimes are and the verse from 1 Corinthians. We know the rules and yet the forbidden territory beckons and we can't stop ourselves. I can imagine God very lovingly guiding us back into safe territory saying, "I love you, but you can't do that."

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. ~ 1 Cor 6:12

Monday, March 15, 2010

I See People

Hallucinations are one of the hallmark symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) and dealing with them can be one of the most frustrating parts of the disease. The hard thing about hallucinations is that LBD patients can’t be given any of the drugs that are typically used to treat the hallucinations. Most of them fall into a category of drugs call neuroleptics that can cause problems with cognition, coma, or even death. So, that leaves patients and care givers with no real recourse.

Without medications to keep the visions (the hallucinations are mainly visual, but some people do experience audible hallucinations) at bay caregivers are often left not knowing what to do for their loved ones. Much of the current literature purports the hallucinations are usually not frightening for the patient, but my experience has been that this is not always the case. Mom had extenuating circumstances in her life before Lewy came that caused the hallucinations to be more frightening for her at times. But, I have talked with caregivers whose loved ones also have fears over them.

So, if you can’t give medication to help, what can you do?

When visions encroach on life, distraction is one of the best ways to react. If you can get your loved one to think about something else even for a few minutes that is often enough for the hold to be broken and the hallucination to stop.

Some things we found useful for distraction:

• Photo albums with family, friends, vacations and other cherished memories. Point to a person or item in the picture and start the memory, “Remember when I was ten and we went to the carnival and I rode the merry go round?”

• Funny stories or information about the family, “Hey, did I tell you that I talked to Aunt Suzy today and she told me that her dog did the funnies thing.”

• Singing….yes, even if you aren’t a great singer. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but during hallucinations I would sometimes start singing, “Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener.” Just the craziness of it would be enough to break the hold.

• Well loved items that carried significance for your loved ones. These are great to start a conversation with the loved one.

The experts say you should validate what the person is experiencing, but not play along with the hallucination. Playing along can be tricky since you don’t know the details of what they are seeing and making a misstep can make the person angry. However, we found that sometimes there just wasn’t anything else we could do. Dad was known at times to stomp down the stairs, open the front door, and shout, “Get out of our house, we don’t want you here.” Then he would slam the door. It was always used as a last resort.

The key is to get them thinking about something other than what they are seeing.

Caregivers, do you have other suggestions that you have found to work for you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Let's Put Our Brains Together and Support Brain Research

Barbara Hutchinson's husband, Bill had Parkinson's Disease with Lewy Bodies. During the last years of his life she decided to quit her job and take him out of the assisted living facility to care for him herself. They set out across the country in an RV to spread the word about Lewy Body Dementia.

She created the film Living With Lewy for the 2010 Neurofilm Festival. She tells viewers that the film was created while they lived their life. This film shows some of the progression of Lewy in her husband. It also gives a clear picture of some of the obstacles caregivers face day to day such as helping their loved ones move from wheelchair to chair, bed, etc.

Barbara is working to encourage people to get involved in the fight against brain disorders. In the film she says, "Let's put our brains together and support brain research." I second that!

Thank you, Barbara for sharing yours and Bill's journey.

Voting for the Neurofilm Festival closes on March 17, 2010. You can help us bring attention to this horrendous disease by viewing and ranking this film and the film What I See.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2009 Operation First Novel Winner

A year ago I went to the Christian Writer's Guild (CWG) annual conference, Writing for the Soul. As I have written before I had the pleasure of sitting at the table with Jennifer Valent for dinner one night. Jennifer is a past winner of the Operation First Novel Contest and is now in the process of publishing her third book.

After the conference I also had the opportunity to become online "friends" with the 2008 winner, CJ Darlington. We have yet to meet in person, but cross paths through the wonder of Facebook and blogging.

These two women have inspired me to actively pursue finishing my own novel and for that I am grateful. They have gone before me and shown me that it can be done.

Now there is another name to add to the list of Operation First Novel winners. Henry McLaughlin was announced as the winner at this year's conference last month. His novel Journey to Riverbend is described  by Karen Watson, associate publisher for fiction at Tyndale House, as a mix of Western and romance.
I find this intriguing because Henry is a 62 year old male and let's face it; most of us think women are the ones who write romance novels.

Henry is another example to those of us walking the road pursuing our dreams that hard work and perseverance make a difference.

Congratulations Henry! I look forward to reading Journey to Riverbend.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marital Bliss

Truth is I come from a family of long married couples. I am surrounded and that isn’t a bad thing. This year marks the 50th anniversary of my parent’s wedding. My siblings have all been married for at least 20 years. Both sets of my grandparents enjoyed long marriages. My maternal grandparents are both still alive and kicking and have been married somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 years!

I have been thinking about my grandparents the last few days. Their anniversary isn’t until June, but I decided to go ahead and talk about their marriage now.

My grandparents really are pretty amazing. I don’t speak from experience, but I know that marriage is hard. It’s not all the bliss and roses that fairytales paint it to be. And, yet, my grandparents just keep on keeping on. Life was hard. Grandpa has farmed all his life. Grandma worked in a factory. They had 13 children. They live in a three bedroom ranch house that at one time housed at least half of those 13 children. I whined that I had to share my room with my two sisters, but my five aunts all shared one room for their growing up years.

Today with all their children grown and living their own lives Grandma and Grandpa have settled into their golden years. They still live in the ranch house. He doesn’t do the hard farm work anymore; three cousins have taken over that part, but Grandpa still likes to get out on the farm when he feels up to it. Grandma still does stuff like canning and freezing. They keep active.

Two years ago I was in Indiana and had a chance to spend some time with them without anyone else around. I got to see the little daily interactions between the two of them. How after all these years they know each other like the back of their hands. Grandma knows just how much coffee to put in Grandpa’s cup. As they sit in the living room in the afternoon he will sometimes read things to her from the newspaper.

Nope, marriage isn’t always easy, but when it’s done right it is beautiful. It’s good to see couples who are so committed to each other and their families. I love that about my family and I am proud to come from a long line of marriage minded people.

Grandma's wedding dress being displayed by Aunt Kathy. It was played with by the kids through the years. In the box is Grandpa's wedding tie. Both the dress and tie are stored for posterity in that little box.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What Can You Do?

For years I never really thought about care givers much. I knew people who called themselves care givers and I just kind of glossed that over. How hard could it be? You’re there anyway; what’s so hard about helping someone out?

I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong and I have to tell you I was not only wrong on that one; I was so hugely wrong it was what slang now refers to as an EPIC FAIL. You all know by now that my mom suffered from Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) for about the last ten years of her life. As the disease progressed Dad gave up much of his life in order to care for her. My sister and I who live close helped as much as possible. But, Dad is not one to ask for help from his kids easily. It goes against the way he was raised. So it was quite some time before the truth began to sink into my thick skull.

As I spent more time with my parents I began to see. When Dad had open heart surgery in the summer of 2007 I understood perfectly. Yeah, care giving is a lot of every day stuff. But it’s an added weight of responsibility. It’s keeping track of medications and doctor visits. It’s comforting and calming when the loved one’s disease rears its ugly head. It’s being available 24 hours a day.

All entwined with the day-to-day responsibilities is the emotion. Watching a loved one suffer is hard; not being able to do anything to lessen the suffering is excruciating. Sometimes I think the toll on the mental health of caregivers is harder than the physical toll.

Thomas B. Grayboys is the author of Life in the Balance; a book about being struck in the prime of his life by a couple of devastating diseases. (You can read my review of his book here) He is a physician so he is acutely aware of what he faces. But, he is also a husband who is acutely aware of how his health affects his wife. He recently made this statement, “This journey with Parkinsons/Dementia ain't no picnic. Lest you hear whining about the "why me" syndrome, look to the right and see someone worse than yourself. My first book was lean regarding spousal support. If we do a sequel, we will address this issue.” It’s a potent reminder that illness doesn’t just affect the person who has it.

Despite the hardship of care giving most any care giver will tell you that they do it willingly. They may be tired and weary, but they would never walk away from the job. When you love someone you give until you just can’t anymore.

What can you do to help a care giver?

1. Offer to help out with household chores or errands.

2. Bring meals they don’t have to prepare.

3. Stay with their loved one even for a few minutes to allow them to step back from responsibility and renew.

4. Call them just to say, “Hi, how are you doing?” But, be cognizant that it might not be the best time to talk.

5. Ask about their loved one. Be careful to talk about their loved one as a person and not a disease.

6. Learn about the disease that is affecting their loved one.

7. Be a listening ear. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to help, but listen.

8. Remember that just because they talk about problems doesn’t mean they are asking for solutions. Sometimes they just need someone to hear what they are going through.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


As I wrote yesterday, this week was really hard. Last week was almost as bad. So, as I was driving home fretting about things I decided it was time to change my focus and spent the rest of my drive thinking about things for which I am grateful.

1. My wonderful niece who is celebrating her birthday to day. She is a joy to be around and draws adorable pictures of my sweet kitty cat.

2. All six of my nieces (2) and nephews (4). My siblings did good in the children department. These six are so different and so amazing!

3. The amazing view as I drove of the sun setting over the mountains; the tallest of which were covered in snow.

4. The Sheriff - my SUV. It is fun to drive and makes me feel a little rough and tumble macho when I drive it.  I have always been a small, sporty car kind of girl, but wonder after the fun I have had with The Sheriff if I will ever be able to go back.

5. My boss who has supported me through the tough times this week.

6. No thankful list would be complete without mention of my sweet Wilsie baby who is currently snuggled up next to me wrinkling up the newspaper.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hop a Train

Often on my drives to work I speed north up the highway as a long train snakes its way south. It's a cargo train (is that what they are called?) not a passenger train. Sometimes as I watch the train cars pass by out of the corner of my eye with the rest of my eyes on the road I wonder where it's headed. I think about hopping into a car like the hobos of days past and letting it sweep me away to some unknown destination.

This has been an extremely hard week. Stress has been running rampant and things that shouldn't have happened have. Through this week God has been showing me a part of myself that I don't like. He shows me these things in the hopes that I will make changes. Honestly, it is hard to look in that mirror He holds up and see these things, but it has to be done.
Tonight as I drove home exhausted and emotionally spent I thought of those trains. I thought about running away on one of the trains. But, running away from hard weeks and problems doesn't solve anything.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fruit Salad

I couldn’t help but notice something while I was cleaning my bathroom recently. It contains enough fruit to make a fruit salad! I bet if you check it out you might find the same thing in your house…unless, of course, you’re a guy with no females populating your space. I think the fruity stuff is definitely a girl thing.

Seriously, I never really paid attention before, but as I moved things and cleaned, the fruit salad began to take shape. Mango-pomegranate, mint-green tea, banana-coconut, fig-brown sugar, warm vanilla sugar, and that’s just in the shower. On the shelf I found more cucumber-melon, peach, vanilla latte, pomegranate, pink grapefruit. Heck, even my generic, everyday lotion has a “light cherry almond scent.”

I know there has been research done about scents and how we react to them. This really isn’t a post about that. It just kind of amazed me how many different flavors I had going on. More fruit happening in my bathroom than in my kitchen!

So, there you have it. Just what you have been dreaming of reading on this here blog…..a fruity tour of this very important room in my house. Thanks for humoring me :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Car Wash

Just to be upfront and honest, there is no purpose to this post other than "because I can."

While much of the country is still dealing with massive amounts of snow we have had just enough here to make the roads a sloppy mess during commutes. The Sheriff (also known as Sheriff Woody, my wheels, and Auntie Tammie's Big Truck) has been filthy for the last few days. And yes, Thomas, if you are reading this I know The Sheriff is just a girly little SUV and not a true big old truck like yours, but he's five and if he wants to call it that I am okay with that :-)

I went to get a car wash on Saturday but the one near my house was closed. So today I had to run out at lunch and take care of some errands. With a few minutes extra I decided to finally get the dirty thing taken care of once and for all before it snows again later this week....just enough to make a mess again.

Here are some pics I took while sitting the car wash. I mean, really, what else is there to do during that time!?!

Make sure you stop!

First pass with just water

I love the colored foam :-)

Oh pretty!

Yep, more colored foam.....

Just before the end.

If you are still reading....thanks for joining me in the car wash.

Monday, March 1, 2010

No Buts!

First, I don’t hear voices. God doesn’t come to me in the form of a burning bush or a booming voice from the sky. All the same, I “hear” God in my life. He speaks to me through quiet peace in my heart or the certain knowing of what the next step He wishes me to make. I know that I have heard His voice when my thoughts begin to line up with scripture.
Second, God spoke very clearly in my life a few years ago. Some friends and I were sitting in a coffee shop when I said, “God says I should pray without buts.” Yep, that look you have as you read this is exactly how they looked at me when I said it to them. I know, it sounds kind of silly. But really it was a profound insight into my soul that was seeping out through my prayers.

You see when I realized God wasn’t just commenting on my sentence structure I began to get His point. Often so many of my prayers go something like this – “Dear God, I know that you are faithful, but…..” or “God I know you are asking me to do this, but……”

Those three little letters – B.U.T. – were the indication of something so much deeper in my spiritual life. As I talked this through with God He led me to see that everything after that BUT was a sign of my lack of trust or lack of faith.

My response was a vehement, “No Lord, it’s not true. I have great faith and I trust you explicitly!” Still, I couldn’t hide from the fact that the BUT was really my way of trying to portray my uncertainty in a cloak of faithfulness. My prayers were more a way of hiding the holes in my faith than they were true dialogue with God.

Dialogue is really what prayer is all about. God knows what is going on in my heart. I don’t have to tell Him that I am unsure of what He is doing, but He wants me to speak honestly with Him. When I am uncertain or questioning He wants me to boldly come to Him with these thoughts. When I want to ask something in His name, He wants me to pray that confidently also. He wants me to deal with my BUTs so that I can pray honestly.

Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; ~Romans 12:12