Thursday, May 16, 2013
Just out of the habit again. But things are shifting, so it makes sense to see if I can get myself back in the groove.
I have always preferred to use my own pictures for my blog posts, when I can... but as I don't even have a camera anymore, and have lost that habit too, I turn to a very small collection of pictures of the cat on my crackberry. This is sweet Maui, enjoying spring, in the front yard.
I do, of course, have a gazillion photos from my big trip 4 years ago (??? how did it get to be 4 years ago?!?!). Can't wait to do more sorting.
I mention things are shifting, and they are. First up, for those who are interested (I am), my mom is doing great in residential care. It was a bumpy road for awhile, but she has settled down, is very happy, and is receiving great care.
Right now I am enjoying living alone for a few months. After more than 30 years living alone, there is nothing like it. I am who I am when I am living alone. It's how I know me, can find me, because it's what I most know. I can listen to myself, know what I need, and be authentic, when I am in this blessed 'space' of being alone. My sister is here half time, which is also awesome (love my sissy!), but as she is back in Vancouver for a stretch, I am revelling in my solo-ness.
My BIG news is that I am in the middle of a major career change: I am a Cruise & Vacation Consultant, with Expedia CruiseShipCenters, in Victoria. Exciting! I'll say more about that in a future post, but you can follow me on Twitter at @cruisetravelbug, and here's my website:
Right now I am in the process of recovering from cataract surgery, just had my second eye done. I can see better than I have in my life, since maybe when I was about 12.
I am legal to drive, even though I don't have my new glasses yet (they make you wait, while your brain adjusts to your new eyes!), but have decided that it's an opportunity to get used to riding the bus again. So, until I get my new glasses, I am taking the bus into Victoria, to work, and to visit mom. It was an easier adjustment than I expected, though I should not be surprised. In Vancouver, pre-Europe, I had given up my car about 5 years previously, and transit was just a way of life. Will probably do a mix once I have glasses again, though I am loving the savings and relaxation. For example, today I had a snooze on my way home... can't do that when you're driving!
If you haven't noticed, look at the top of the right hand column of my blog for my new citytravelbug book shops, aka city booklists. This is a germ of an idea I have been working on for awhile. I've got about a dozen cities done already, and many others half-built, putting them alive as I finish each one. Feel free to explore! There is no obligation to buy from me (feel free to shop local or visit your library), but if you care to shop online, please do consider following my links, as I will earn a small commission from each sale. You can also follow my book tweets at @citytravelbooks.
I am sure I have more to say, but that's all that's jumping to mind right now.
Monday, March 18, 2013
|citytravelbug book shop for Athens|
So have have started building book collections for cities, big and small, some I have visited, some that I haven't, and pulling those together on Amazon (it really is the best place to do it).
Here's the official blurb:
citytravelbug books have been carefully curated to satisfy your curiosity about some of the world's greatest cities.For fun, I have also put some crazy expensive and obscure items in each city's "For the Collector" section. Not really expecting serious collectors (!)... just offering some artsy-travel-virtual-window-shopping!
Whether you're planning a trip, learning more before returning, preparing to move, reliving memories, doing a little virtual travel, adding to a collection, or just having fun letting your curious mind travel, this collection is for you.
Yes, if you buy a book online here, citytravelbug earns a little commission, but that's not really the point (though that would be lovely:). It's more important to citytravelbug that you add gems to your booklist - to pick up at your local bookstore, borrow from the library, hunt down in 2nd hand bookstores (we love that too!) or buy online - and enjoy reading them.
So far, citytravelbug online travel bookstores have been launched for Amsterdam, Athens, Budapest, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Zurich.
Have a look, and let me know what you think. And feel free to put in a good word for whatever city you want me to build next.
Friday, March 15, 2013
That's why I was so inspired to read "Living With Less, A Lot Less" by Graham Hill, in the New York Times, earlier this week. It's about someone who struggled with a lot more stuff than I ever did, but is now living small. It's an interesting journey he has been on, and he has some interesting perspectives. It's really worth reading if you have a love/hate relationship with your stuff, are concerned about our consumerism, or just want to simplify life.
Right now I am living in my mom's house, keeping it going, now that she is in long-term care. I'll be here for the foreseeable future, so where I next hang my hat isn't top of mind, but it's something I have thought about, in terms of how I want to live.
When I gave up my apartment and gave away almost everything I owned before going to Europe in 2009, I felt so free. And I've had no regrets. I left about 6 purple Rubbermaid totes with everything important to me, and as many more boxes of paperwork and tax records. And that's about it. Since I've been back, some of those totes are still packed, nothing I've really needed. And I picked up a few little gems from my travels that will fill things out, as far as what's meaningful. The rest will come, and will go as easily when I once again travel some day, or move to another city. As I say, that's all pretty far off, but as someone who was burdened by stuff, it feels comfortable.
OK, this was a quick post, I have more to reflect on, on this subject (and I did buy some stuff when I got home that I, of course, wish I didn't really have (though my desk is awesome), so it's all a process... But wanted to share the article while it's fresh in my mind.
Friday, March 08, 2013
Yet, as I start to connect, things do begin to fall into place rather quickly.
It has been fascinating and inspiring to be learning what various people are now doing with their lives. That's largely due to Linked In... wow, what an amazing tool it has grown into. So much elegant that when I might have been called an early adopter (before hitting pause), and all they said about what it would do to connect people really is coming true. I'm impressed. BTW, this is me on Linked In: ca.linkedin.com/in/robertawestwood/
I have also had people reaching out to me, in my quest for new opportunities. That's rather cool. And the universe is making all sorts of other connections happen. There's a certain energy I feel when things start to align like this. It's a spark. One I like. One I remember. And one that energizes me....
Monday, March 04, 2013
I have been blogging for almost 10 years (I checked, my first post was September 19, 2003), so it has been rather disconcerting to find myself out of the habit of blogging. But here's what I figured happened.
My blog was first a business blog, then a personal/business blog, then a personal/travel blog, then a mostly travel blog, then a personal blog, then a personal/caregiving blog, the latter when I moved to Sidney almost 3 years ago to live with my sweet mom, and ultimately become her caregiver. Largely comfortable with sharing openly in my blog, not really worrying about what what others thought, I found myself on somewhat sensitive ground when blogging out my caregiving experiences because, naturally, they involved sharing stuff about my mom. While I tried to always be respectful, and I do think the caregiving lessons learned were worth sharing with others, it wasn't so comfortable for other members of my family. I didn't even know some of them read it, so that was a nice learning, but I came to look at what I was sharing through their eyes, and could see how they might be sensitive about it. So I eased off, and fell out of the habit. Largely, I think, because I don't segment myself into these different lives.... if I am not blogging about what I am doing in one part of my life, an increasingly larger part of my life, caregiving mom, then there's little context for the rest. Or something like that....
So... an update on a few things, then back to blogging, as I shift gears here. And I am shifting gears.
Mom is doing well, all things considered. She moved into residential care in October, 5 months ago today, actually. There were certainly ups and downs in adjusting, but she seems to be settling in well now, and is happy. The spot where she is has a great music program, with live music several times a week, which really brings out her spark and personality. She also celebrated her 91st birthday last month, and we had a grand little party. Her dementia has worsened quite a bit in the last year, but she knows who I am and is very much on the ball in many ways. She can still walk, but largely gets around in a wheelchair - amazing how she has learned to propel herself around. She lights up when she sees me, or any of her kids or grandchildren, loves the staff (and they love her), and there is always a party around the corner where she is living. She's healthy otherwise, so I anticipate many visits for quite some time to come.
I can say, without a doubt, that putting my mom in residential care was the hardest thing I have ever done. All the while knowing it was the right thing, still it was emotional beyond belief. It's so sudden when the call comes. I have never cried so hard in my life, huge heaving sobs, rocking my soul. It broke my heart. Oh, how I cried. All while being strong for mom, and being there for her, helping her adjust. It was all for the good, and it was time, but how it broke me. I was running on empty and then I was sucked dry. I cried myself dry. Yet there were always more tears...
Caregiving takes a lot out of you, but there is joy in moments together, and satisfaction in helping someone stay in their home as long as possible. Between my sister and I there have been many years devoted to this mission (she did it before I did, then still played a major role), so when either of us is torn about wishing we could have kept mom at home longer, we remind ourselves about how much extra time mom was able to be in her home, and know that we did the best we could, and it made a difference.
I have no regrets about caregiving, but it drained me more than I could have believed. Towards the end (meaning the months while we were on a waiting list for mom to get into residential care), I was simply overwhelmed much of the time. I still managed to work half-time, but fortunately it's a gig that I do remotely, any time of the day or night, so I found enough time for that, and it was important mental stimulation for me. I had fun with mom, of course, and there were caregivers here most of the day (some truly amazing people), and yet it was still exhausting. The hardest thing was sleep, or lack thereof. It left me little energy to face the day, and manage things, without going a little nuts.
I found some journal entries I did on my Blackberry when I made my one only weekend away in a year, with live-in caregivers for mom. It took much arranging, but I made it to an exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and stayed 2 nights in Vancouver. It was one of those things where it would have taken a week of rest to feel refreshed enough to enjoy the break. But I am still glad I did it. The notes I found were interesting. It seems I fell asleep a couple of times during a film in the art gallery, on buses...
In those entries, I also found a stretch of about a week where I noted every time I was woken up in the night (caregiving mom), how long it took me to get back to sleep, only to be awoken again, and again. Reading those now, it's no wonder I was in a fog, it was rare to ever get a decent stretch of sleep, and REM sleep would have been rare.
I share that because it's context for my own adjustment when mom went into residential care. I'm not sure I would have admitted it at the time, but I think I spent two months in bed. Yes, I was going in to visit mom often, but when I got home, I'd lie down to rest, and would sleep so deeply, that I wouldn't want to get up. It was easier to lie on my back in bed and work on my iPad than to be up and around the house, and the world. It's hard to describe, but it was a combination of deep fatigue, sleep deprivation, depression and just a tired soul, that needed rest, rest, rest. I'm still tired from the whole thing, and living a lot more normally (I get up now, lol).
It's looking back that I see changes in myself, many of them temporary, I'm sure.... but I stopped doodling somewhere along the way, stopped trying to sell my art, stopped reading, stopped writing, stopping taking pictures, stopped walking, stopped blogging, stopped reaching out to friends, stopped even dreaming (my passport ran out!), I just existed.
That sounds a little, 'woe is me', but I don't mean it to be. I chose to be here, and I have no regrets, but it was tough. There are many things I am sure I could have done that would have brought me better health, and helped me better, but anyone who has experienced depression will understand when I say it's not that easy.
I am willing to share the worst of how I was, how I felt, and how I coped (or didn't), because it might help someone. I'm not proud to say I spent 2 months in bed recovering, yet I also don't judge it. One thing I do have going for me is pretty good intuition, so I was able to trust that it wouldn't go on forever, and just let go. Let go and let the magic of healing begin.
These days I am doing waaaaay better. Still not doodling or reading (much), but I am creating space for them.
Work is good. I love my part-time gig with IHateTaxis, and am learning alot. I adore having work that takes me (virtually) around the world, love doing research, am enjoying learning about SEO, enjoy the social media, lots of diversity. I wish it were more, but it's a small operation, and that's the extent of the hours at the moment.
So I am looking for another gig. Maybe a part-time job, or maybe contract work. Lots of feelers out there, but still seeking that next opportunity or two. And, yes, I need the dough, so I'm being flexible. I have a fair hit from no to low-income the past few years to make up for.
I am also working on getting an online presence going again. Some some websites and such. Self-generated ventures of the type I used to dream up and make happen. It's neat to be doing that at a different point in my life, and with new technologies. Lot's a ideas in the hopper.
And getting back to aspects of my life that feed my soul, and new as well.
All 4 now, more soon.....
Friday, June 08, 2012
As much as I think I want to write about my current journey, that of caregiving my sweet mom, I find that when I write, its just so personal, and it doesn't feel really fair to her, or my siblings, or extended family. I am writing, sometimes, but when I reflect on what I have written, it seems to be when I am overwhelmed or oozing depression - or a combination - and the only real insight is for me. So, have posted less than I'd thought about what I'd intended to post....
Well, I managed to fall asleep writing that... and woke to the sound of rain ... and it is night, best take the chance to sleep while I can...
Pics in this post in tribute to the exciting news about Emily Carr this week....
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
- I am reading again. Can't believe I stopped, guess I didn't have the attention span. Plus I have a crackberry, which diverts one...
- Currently reading The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato - set in Florence, in Botticelli's time - very good, though so far a lot of people have been murdered (!)
- Also reading The Stone Boudoir by Theresa Maggio - non-fiction travel writing set in Sicily - I'm loving how it is written... and I seem to be have Sicily on the mind lately... would love to visit
- So... I've been thinking more about future travel.... Not sure where that will be, but it's got me pretty interested in a whole range of things right now, including: Sicily, Crete, Budapest, Croatia, Istanbul... and swooning for some great art museums right here in North America....
- Let's see, what else...
- They renovated a cute wee house behind mom's here into a monstrosity that I am sure will block the sun at some point of the year; she formerly had a very private backyard... now there is a wall of stucco beyond and above her trees; kinda sad, and I'm sure it will reduce the property value... Yuk! But rolling with the punches there too, as they are neighbors mom has had a good relationship with, and there's no sense crying over split milk...
- I spill milk quite often, when feeding the cat, but so far, I haven't cried. Neither has he. hee hee!
- I splurged and got cable and a TV in my bedroom here... can't believe it took me this long... it's very nice to have, but I am equally pleased that I seem to have gotten over any past tv addiction, as I don't seem all that interested...
- I wish my iTouch's battery could go longer than an hour without melting down
- Not really doing my art these days. Still doodling, most days, but the studio collects dust and I am no longer trying to sell stuff. May do so again, but all that fell off the radar when the caregiving amped up this fall.... I am happy to let that be for now, but I might get the Etsy thing going again. Not going to sweat that tho...
- I have pretty well decided that when the next phase of my life comes around, I'll settle in Victoria, rather than returning to Vancouver...
- The sun is shining, the blossoms are out, it snowed for 5 minutes this morning, and there is opera playing...
- And with that, I'll finish up this batch of reflections.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Another picture taken on my birthday in Vancouver: soothing Passion Fruit tea at the corner of Denman and Davie, sitting in a sunbeam...
What a difference a few hours make, or a few days, or just a different lens on the world, or having given my head a few good shakes.... or feeling the effects of taking care of myself...
Today mom is off doing her own thing, leaving me at home, alone, for, what, I think the first time in almost a year - aside of when I've been on a week long respite break. Today, I got four hours, maybe it will extend to five, but it feels like an eternity to one who gets my energy from being alone with no agenda. She should be home anytime now, but I feel so wonderfully restored.
After 30 years or so of living alone, I never would have thought that just four hours to myself could possibly be enough to restore - I would have thought I'd needed at least a day, if not two. But things are different, and I am learning to cherish little breaks. Like sunbeams.
It could be that I had a good base coming into today -- after my decent respite break and mini-vacation in Vancouver last week, or mom's less-than-usual-degree-of-emotional-turmoil return from Piercy Respite Hotel on Monday, or the body work I had done last week, or a change in a medication - who knows... but that base probably helped.
It probably also helped that I was able to see the preciousness of my time today. As much as I wanted to sleep, I resisted the temptation. I put on a pot of coffee and went out to my art studio -- that I've barely set a foot into since mom's fall in the summer - and had my breakfast there, reading an art book, then doing a little collage/doodle art myself. A lovely sunny day here, so it actually got hot being there too long. Then took a relaxing shower, put on some soothing music (Hennie Bekker - haven't listened to that for a long time!), and doodled - and, yes, dozed, a little.
Pleasantly surprised to feel refreshed and restored. I forgot what this feels like. And it feels good.
I'm almost hesistant to say that, I don't want to count my chickens before they are hatched, but, hell, it's worth celebrating! I honestly don't think I have felt this good since last summer. That could be selective memory, but who cares. It feels new, and a relief.
I have work to do today, but intentionally postponed it until after mom is home - so I'd have my me time for me - after all, it's supposed to be respite! I'll dig into that shortly, but wanted to capture this moment, this feeling. To cherish it. To celebrate it. And, yes, to remember it, because there will, I'm sure, be many more moments of feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope or think straight. I think they come with the territory these days. But something about today WORKED. Hallaleujah!
Mom is at a day program at Mount Newton. They pick her up here in the morning, she gets a bus ride with other attendees - then spends 4 hours on site at their facility. They start off with tea/coffee and muffins in a big sunroom, then move to an activity room that feels more like a living room for chair exercises and, if they are lucky, some live music. Lunch is a hot meal cooked from scratch on-site; those that are still capable are invited to take part in the meal preparation. After lunch is a changing program: perhaps a speaker, or games, or something like that. Then back on the bus at around 2:00 and another ride and hopefully some interesting places to see as they drive her group back home. It's a good program: they have a careworker on the bus, as well as a driver who has a care training. I am relaxed knowing that she is in good hands.
Oh, somewhere in there, probably the morning, mom gets her turn in the bath. It's quite a wonderful contraption they have - I can't wait to hear how much she liked the jets - and how happy she will be having had a real bath for the first time in ages. Since her summer fall, she's had just bird baths in bed, and showers during her stays at Piercy, that's it. The little old bathroom here is too small and dangerous for her to use....
Well, my precious cargo has arrived home. Mom is squeaky clean, smiling and chattering on about having had a really good day. And she is looking forward to going back again next week. So, success all around.
Now it's time for me to move onto my work for today, but glad I captured this moment and feeling. With grace, it shall return over and over again.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
A quiet birthday, but just what I needed. Here in Vancouver on a respite/vacation break, staying at a friend's apartment in the West End while she is away travelling. Same building as my sister Carol lived in 30+ years ago, same suite layout, oddly comforting. Yesterday I went out for breakfast, walked by the ocean, had a nice tea, did some healthy things for me - then came home for a nice evening at 'home'. My best friend Kelly came over to visit. We ordered in Greek Food and enjoyed a bunch of wine and gabbed away the night.... Not as exciting as 51 up the Eiffel Tower, or 50 in the Big Apple, but perfect for me right now.
Looking forward to a new year. The last one was a wee bit rough, or perhaps I should say had a few rough patches, but it's all a process.
Last night these words fell out of my mouth, and I've been doodling around them, and want to capture them here:
Friday, January 13, 2012
After an hour or two, we will go and grab something to eat. This is amusing, as Patti gets a full meal, and I get, well, mush. Might be pasta tonight. One night it was mashed potatoes. Always with some soup. What's a girl to do?
I had dental surgery 8 days ago. I was playing up the 'dental surgery' bit to play a sympathy card, but I really thought it was no big deal. Wrong! I had 2 teeth extracted, and it hurt like hell afterwards. Then, despite being totally "good" (no booze, no red bull, liquids only then soft foods, and all the rinsing stuff...), it got infected. Sigh. So now I have antibiotics on top of the Tylenol 3s. As you might guess, I have been a bit of a zombie, lots of sleep, dozing off at inopportune times, and such. Yesterday I went for the gusto and spent pretty well the entire day sleeping. Made quite a difference. But long from being over the hump.
Interesting, I wrote for a whole 5 or 10 minutes without it being about mom. I'd say that's healthy. So, rather than rock that healthy boat, perhaps I'll not focus there....
I am looking forward to a great respite break later this month when I go to Vancouver and stay at a friend's apartment in the West End while she is away. Heaven.!! I don't care if all I do is sleep.... but I do hope I get out for some nice long walks. Hopefully I can drink by then (!) and can chill and have some good eats. May do nothing, may do something, will make zero plans. This IS my vacation. And boy, do I need it! [A note to my Vancouver friends: I don't expect to use this visit for socializing, so don't be offended.]
So, if I don't talk about mom, and I don't talk about respite, what do I talk about? Aside of dental pain and mushy foods, that is?
Honestly, I can't remember.
I am doing two things. Can't recall if I have blogged on them before.
One is a short term contract for 4 months. I am a junior member of a 12 person team putting together 70+ elearning modules for a provincial government initiative. Interesting to have a side role, rather than being in the thick of things, but it fits me perfectly at this time. I have committed to the equivalent of 2 days a week as a minimum, and I do more when I can. I can only do this because my sister has come to help with my mom. And I enjoying it more than I thought! I'm am not really a government girl, but with the role I have carved out for myself, its working out fine. And the team is great! Only occasionally get together for face-to-face meetings; we do a daily scrum by phone and Live Meeting and the rest of my work is remote. Although I am not using it directly, I have been exposed to Articulate (I like it), have fallen in love with Dropbox, and am learning the ins and outs of Sharepoint. It's been good for me to dust off some of my skills, and spend time working with current tools. Yada yada yada....
That one is good for my brain, and my pocket book, and making local connections - but I love that it is for a finite period.
My other gig is the one that I am most excited about: since September I have been a travel researcher for IHateTaxis.com. First thing everyone asks is the story of the name, so you can read about it here. I work for the two brothers described in the story. And I LOVE IT! I started out at 10 hours a week, now up to 15 hours a week. And I am loving a steady ongoing gig that I can do anytime of night or day. It fits me like a glove! I also Tweet for them, which I enjoy tremendously. BTW, you can follow us there @ihatetaxis. Lots of cool stuff is in the hopper and it is great to be working on such a small team, as my voice, and my work, makes a difference.
It's funny, it's a way in which I am still traveling, or traveling again, without getting out of my pjs. I have learned so much about so many places by not only updating airport ground transport information, but by researching and writing about layover options. And by tweeting about travel related stuff. I'm a bit of a planespotter, so being hooked into airports is also kind of cool. If I think of places I've "touched" just this week, my 'journeys' have touched on Sicily (Mt. Etna was spewing this week!), Berlin (new airport coming!), Iceland, Dublin.... Other recent places have included Dominican Republic, Rome, Hamburg, Geneva, Hawaii, South Africa, Washington DC, Dallas Fort Worth, Winnipeg (new airport!)... and so much more.
OK, enough for now. bye bye
Sunday, January 01, 2012
Reflecting tonight on a few of the more memorable New Year's Eves in my life, not all good - in fact it was the memory of one particularly bad NYE that got me reflecting back - but it's all in the fabric of my life...
OK, out with it... let's start with the grim one. I was young. From my vantage point now I'd say veerrry young. That would be about 20 or 21. I had a boyfriend of a couple years that I was in the process of breaking up with. Correction: he was in the process of breaking up with me. We were living together, and the decision had been made a week or so before NYE, but I hadn't moved out yet. And we were "friends". Or so we thought. He was always a very kind soul but I guess so wrapped up in his own stuff about the breakup (or 'her' - the girl he had fallen in love with, that was at the root of me being asked to move out), that his thoughtlessness that night took me by surprise. He had made the arrangements for the night, so I put no attention to the evening, until we were ready to leave the house - and he grabbed a bottle of rum and said "this is what I am taking to drink tonight. What are you taking?" Of course, I didn't know that I should need to be thinking ahead on that count. And that was back in the days when you couldn't just go pick something up without planning ahead (liquor stores closed early on such nights, and were so busy you actully had to line up outside for hours [!]), so essentially I was left with nothing, aside of whatever I might be able to find in the cupboard. It was just so thoughtless, and it was a bad omen for the evening ahead. I had already said that I didn't want to go out for New Year's, considering the situation, but he said he still wanted to take me out (I guess he felt guilty about breaking up with me? and his new gf had plans?), so I acquiesed (sp?). My memories are actually very vague about it now, but I remember it being a night from hell. Being at some party and him kind of leaving me all alone for long stretches, ignorning me (or so it felt), and me just feeling totally awkward and uncomfortable. I just wanted it to be over. But it was something to just endure. And, there was no easy way to leave and get home. So it did need to be endured. And I was Miserable. I was broken hearted, felt unloved, definitely felt jilted, and the whole situation was just laid out in front of me: everything had come to this. And it sucked. I never was much of a drama queen, but that night probably did bring out the bits I did have: I was probably pouting and putting off some pretty 'woe is me' vibes. I am slightly amused now to think of it, but feel a bit sad for the younger me. And am also curious as to what he remembers from that night.
The "good" thing from that night was that I declared I hated New Year's parties, avoided them, and started creating new rituals for myself. Not that declaring all NYE parties bad was a good thing, but the movement to new rituals was a positive evolution for me. I must say I am still not all that fond of NYE parties, but they don't fill me with dread anymore.
Now, what other memories do I have?
I remember the year my sister Carol came and stayed with me in Victoria one New Year's. I was living in a lovely little attic apartment in a renovated heritage house, with a wood stove, skylights and a wee balcony with an ocean view. It had all these multilayered floors, and I had candles scattered about. We stayed in. I don't think she'd ever done that before! lol. It was quiet, but we had little rituals at midnight, wrote lists and resolutions, burned them, saved the ashes - and ate little treats. All stuff I had done alone for years since the NYE from Hell, and was sharing for the first time. Seemed very grand to be sharing it with someone else - and shockingly quiet for her (she kept talking like it was a novelty, I don't think she'd ever not partied).
Also in the low points category was the New Year's Day -- so not the night, but the day after -- where I had memories of some very painful stuff from my childhood come back to me for the first time. I was so shocked and confused. I remember the day because I went out walking in the morning, and there wasn't a soul around. So began a whole new chapter of my life that I have done a lot of work around, but have not written publicly about. But I do associate it with NYE.
In the bittersweet arena, there was the year Carol was in palliative care at St Paul's Hospital, and my sister Patti and I smuggled in champagne and snacks. We took over a wee room used for families and the chaplain - the irony wasn't lost on us - and chatted away the night like girlfriends. No, like sisters, sharing a 'normal' New Year's Evening. It was special. It makes my heart catch, as it must have been her last one....
Had a few memorable New Year's with a close close friend, her sister and brother-in-law. We'd gather at her place, and eat and drink and laugh and argue. I am not an arguer, but there were plenty of amusing moments with one of the trio of people I was drinking with wouldn't stop talking long enough to hear another persective so the only way to get a word in edgewise was to argue one's point. Probably doesn't sound amusing to read, but it is amusing to reflect back on. We also had a lot of fun. It was a ritual that got set aside when one of us diverted to a relationship, but still have surprisingly fond memories.
A definite highlight was 2 years ago in Athens, Greece which I wrote about here. Fantabulous!!!!
If you read that, you'll know why I was out trying to find a pomegrante (sp?) today....
Well, it's about time to clang pots and pans here...mom is up, watching Dick Clark (still alive!)... so will wrap this up. I am sure I have a few more memories that will come to me, and may add to this later.
But for now, let me say:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Then 2 women with 2 toddlers arrived. And the silence was shattered. I don’t resent them at all, they have as much of a right to be here as I do – and perhaps even more if they have airport business! I don’t even resent the kids screeching, cuz what else is a kid supposed to do?
But, oh, how I missed the quiet. And I felt a sudden stab of yearning for that silence.
Then a dozen more people. Maybe half that, but if feels ‘full’ in here. Again, no feelings of wishing they would go away (or not much) but just brings to mind how much I crave silence.
Just as I crave time alone.
I don’t know what to do without it.
30 years of living alone.
I misssss it.
What I am doing is taking a mini-respite break. Mom has an evening worker with her tonight: they make her dinner, entertain her (great when they are readers, as tonight’s one is), give her a wash and settle her in for the evening. I am delighted she enjoys them so much. For the most part, these are different workers than the day girls – I’d like to say a different kind of worker – perhaps because they are booked through a private service (subcontracted by the health authority), so I think they are doing it for different reasons. Last night mom had a girl read her poetry. What bliss for her.
I say girls but, of course, they are women. And when there’s enough time to get to know them, really interesting women.
And mom blossoms.
She is a lot more social than she perhaps thought she was.
And they all adore her.
How lucky I am, to be caretaking for such a sweet mom as mine (ours).
Getting noisier by the minute… but I am now in a zone. Liking it as much as if I’d wandered in here and found it like this: busy, alive, noisy – ah, there’s my little cocoon spot in the corner, all mine.
Perhaps best I experienced both extremes tonight, on my first night here, so I will happily accept it when it’s a busy spot – and will really appreciate it when it is quiet.
I think I may be able to find this place empty at times.
I look forward to that.
I have always been someone who really does relax at home. What regenerates me is unstructured time alone at home. Or wherever I am hanging my hat at the moment. I have always been like this. Figured it out a long, long time ago.
And while I can stay home when care workers come in – morning or evening – it’s probably more important to get out. I know that. But it can seem artificial sometimes.
Because there really isn’t a perfect place to go.
Mornings I have gone out for breakfast, often taking my laptop and writing to kill time.
To do chores is to, well, do chores. And going to stores doesn’t restore me.
I’ve made it a point to not use the time for household chores or doing things for mom during these times… but as much as I am totally used to being on my own and not even notice it, to get up and get dressed and go out just to be out has an odd awkwardness to it.
Especially at those times when I just want to curl up and sleep.
Sometimes I do. At home.
But I know out is good.
Early on, I had a couple of the careworkers tell me that I really needed to get out. I think they could read it on my face, sense my need to get away. I appreciate their encouragement. It really helped me in the early days.
Now with winter, and now that I am working, it really is easiest to just tuck into my room in the mornings, and either sleep in, or enjoy the radio, or reading, or dig into work.
And when my sister is here, staying home is more the norm than going out in the mornings.
Though I still do get out. I feel like I have a morning rhythm now – even though it’s a little of this and a little of that.
Evenings, well, less so, still getting that worked out. For a few nights when my sister was here, we’d go out for dinner, which was fun… but it gets expensive, and more than once I just found myself wanting to curl up and go to sleep after dinner – just not that easy to do sitting on a bar stool.
Last night, I stayed home. Took some snacks into my room, turned on my radio, chilled. It was very restful, and I was able to separate. But tonight I thought it made sense to go out.
So…. After planespotting for awhile, decided to come hang out here in the airport’s observation lounge. It was the best choice so far. Very comfortable (big leather armchairs), aboriginal art, view of the tarmac and departure lounges – and the taste of travel in the air.
It’s about as close as I get to travelling these days, so it feels good.
And I think I could relax here.
When I think of all the other options, it really is the best. The library is good, but not all the time. Restaurants are ok, but they cost money and you can’t really put your feet up (only metaphorically). A pub is good, but can’t have more than one drink and can get tired of them. Going out for coffee is fine, but you can only do so much of that, and it doesn’t work in Sidney in the evenings!!! (they roll up the sidewalks here by 8…) Have done my share of sleeping in the car. Or driving around crying at others. What a mixed bag. I’d like to be at the point where I am going for a swim, still looking forward to creating that.
But what do you do when you want to relax for an hour. And you can’t be at home? Not complaining, just observing and trying to work it out. Because it is important to be restored when all is said and done.
This is good. And they have a sweet $1 2-hour parking thing going on.
Stepping back, this is one of the things that surprised me most about being a caregiver: what one does to relax when one gets some time off.
I have tried without success to find a crash pad. My dream has been for someone with a spare bedroom, or a studio, or some separate space in their home (or a furnished place empty a few days a week) where I could hang out: crash, read, relax, sleep, watch tv – just like being at home. Well, sort of. But after a year, and a few expressions of interest, still nothing. Of course, I am looking for an angel who will lend that to me, versus paying for it. I won’t give up, but man on man, what a haul.
If you read this, and you have a spot like that, wherever you live, know that there is a caregiver (or 12) in your community who would kill to be able to make use of it. To donate space to a careworker has to be one of the greatest gifts someone can give.
Ok, enough yattering. This place has died down to about ½ the people and ½ the noise, and it’s ok.
Just re-read all that. Interesting jumble of thoughts. But there you go.
There I go.
Great lounge, I was able to see the pilots – I can see pilots right now! – on a plane that pulled up to get 9 here. Kind of cool.
And this lounge just totally emptied out.
I am here totally alone.
Bliss has returned.
I create my own bliss.
But here is a gem.
Friday, December 16, 2011
I am frustrated because I don't seem to have time to blog these days... but is that really it? I am frustrated because I am not blogging. I don't have a lot of time these days, true, but it's not that hard to do, as long as I have more of a free flowing blog, than a "composed" one. Which I'd planned (ha ha) to do anyways. So, what's stopping me?
Out of the habit is the biggie.
If I am in the habit, then it's no big deal to pop open my laptop and just write. Somewhat journal like. Not so crazy, considering that blog comes from weblog, which is an online log, or journal. Blah blah blah... enough intellectualizing!
Right now I am waiting for a call back about whether I can get a couple more days of respite care at Piercy Respite Hotel for my mom. Breaking all protocol here, but hopefully it will work out. Sometimes you just gotta trust your gut.
Was due to pick up mom this morning, but she had a fall yesterday. Not too serious, but was at the hospital with her for awhile yesterday while they stitched her up and checked her out. While we were doing that, she offered to stay another night or two, to give me a bit more respite time (also had a burst hot water tank this week, hardly real 'turn off the real world' kind of respite!)... I knew they had had a whole whack of time open the other day, as someone cancelled last minute (mom had already stayed one extra day as it was)... so I called the nurse last night. It appears that mom's room is available for 2 more nights, but that can't be confirmed until the booking person looks. Just called, and there's a relief person on, so won't know for a bit. The only thing is, I should have already left and be picking her up right now if they can't keep her longer. So a bit of a pickle of a delay if I hear I need to go get her, but I am crossing my fingers and toes. Anyways, that's the "I gotta trust" part of it.
Oh, on the falls, I was also tweeting this morning about: how do I get used to the falls, how do I keep my heart from getting stuck in my throat each time she has one. She's fine. Me, well, sheesh!!!
This is mom all loaded up to be taken back to Piercy - and the guys put the Christmas lights in the back on for her. Not a clear pic, but it was a nice moment, all 4 of us were laughing: her, me and the 2 paramedics (both cute). On that note, I told mom she didn't have to fall to get attention from some nice young men! She had 4 yesterday, 2 each way. And I told her not to be disappointed when she got women sometimes ;-)
There I go, composing again... the decision to add a couple of pics did it to me...
So........ to the frustrations part of it....
How did I get out of the habit?
It IS partially time, but I realize exactly where it started.
At the end of July my mom had a fall. And I kept it from my sister because: a) mom was "ok", b) mom asked me to, and c) my sister was off to the UK for 6 weeks in September and we both knew she would worry worry worry worry worry to the point of not enjoying her trip if she knew. It killed me a little not to tell her, but agreed to after talking with my brother and sleeping on it. And I agreed to do that as long as I didn't have to stay silent about "everything else".
The world here changed a lot here after that fall. After the first week or so of carrying on alone, totally scared that mom would fall again, and me straining my back as I assisted her, we got help. And the daily morning workers started. And some other adjustments were made around the house. Now we were supposed to get a home care assessment done sometime soon anyways, so I was able to tell my sister about those changes under those auspices (is that the right word? It's one I say but never write... oh well, for once I don't care...). (She never suspected a thing: had a great trip, and was surprised to learn about it afterwards... and totally understood, and appreciated the decision). Glad that bit is over though. Siblings have so much to do in partnership when caretaking a parent, holding something back generally doesn't help. And just felt odd to not speak of it.)
That was all going on about the time I wrote this blog entry: Grace. I had to write about it. I couldn't say nothing. My blog would have felt totally unauthentic to me if I just glossed over what was happening. So I chose my words veeeery carefully. Almost too carefully, I thought, as it felt a bit contrived, but it's also one of the most special posts I've done about my mom, because it captures the spirit of her, her heart, the fun we have (had?). Such a shame, the fall occurred the day after the pictures of this outing were taken. Mom was SO HAPPY that day!!!! She talks of it often. She talks of wanting to go back. But it won't be the same. and it's not that easy. Thinking of how happy it made her makes me all happysad. I start to cry as I write this. Her joy fills me with joy. And I feel so sad sometimes, thinking of her losses.
Anyways... although I got my wish, of being able to share enough with my sister that I didn't feel I was lying to her... and to be able to have enough out in the open that I could blog about how my world was changing... in the end, being careful with my words was really really hard. And as I look back now, I never wrote another blog post after that all fall (well, not the heart stuff anyways).
that brings up a whole other realm of stuff for me, which I'll reflect on later.
For now, I am going to relax a bit, as I got my call back (she can stay), and I got a blog post out, so I am starting the ball rolling. Though who knows what will come! One thing I want to do is share what caregiving is like, to share our journey, and just put stuff out there as I adapt and work stuff out.....
ok, all 4 now...