Find Joy Instead of Despair

Mom’s third day in the hospital dawned as I assessed my morning routine. In my quest to find joy instead of despair, I learned to practice self-care in my caregiver role. Even so, there were little messages that I heard but didn’t heed. For example, I didn’t take time to make breakfast, looking up Bojangles’ sandwiches. But I forgot to download the ordering app. So instead, I completed an abridged version of my Reiki practice, showered, and put on makeup, including mascara.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

When I arrived at Bojangles, I tried to go inside. The staff locked it. I backed out of my parking space and pulled into the drive-up line behind two men on foot. They had motorcycle t-shirts on, and there were motorcycles in the parking lot.

I noticed the pile of large river rocks where the speaker and menu had been. The drive-up line moved slowly. As we neared the temporary ordering setup, I heard the noisy highway floating through my open windows and felt the cool morning breeze. I

It was amusing to watch the motorcycle guys order. They jumped on and backed off the sensor plate to let the Bojangles employee know they wanted to order. The taller of the two bent himself nearly in two at the speaker stand. Then it was my turn to drive up and order. The long line behind me was impressive, snaking around the far side of the building.

I closed my passenger side window to reduce the noise. Waiting patiently, I listened for acknowledgment from the speaker stand. Finally, I shouted at the pedestrians in front of me, “Guys! Hey, guys! Motorcycle guys!” Eventually, the shorter man turned my way and started to approach. Then a voice from the speaker stand said, “Are you talking to me?” I answered, “No, but I’d like to.” We all laughed. I placed my order. It was so amusing; I took a photo of the two guys in front of me from my windshield.

As they approached the drive-up window, one said, “This is a first for me, walking in the drive-up at Bojangle’s!”

Mom’s Third Day at the Hospital

Soon I was backing into a space in the hospital parking lot. Gathering my purse, book, coffee travel cup, and changing my glasses, I locked the car and walked the familiar path to the temporary entrance of the hospital. A new face was staffing the makeshift welcome table. After sanitizing my hands and placing my mask on my face, I approached.

“Do you know where you are headed?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m very familiar with the route.”

“I’ve heard that a lot this morning,” she replied.

As I walked through the gauntlet of chairs in the shared emergency room waiting area, I began the familiar path past walls striped with blue painter’s tape. The young man who was patching drywall all week was absent. I missed saying hello or commenting on his steady progress.

You Never See it Coming

Stepping into the waiting elevator, I pressed the button for the second floor. As the doors opened, I saw two unfamiliar masked faces at the nurse’s station.

“Good morning, you guys are new!”

One of the women, striking in her deep blue scrubs that matched the blue of her kind eyes, had moved toward me. I noticed her name tag said ‘Brenda.’ I turned left for the short walk to Mom’s room. Just before I arrived at the closed door, the nurse, who had discreetly followed me, spoke.

“Are you Dawn?”

“Yes.”

“I just put the phone down as I heard the elevator. I’m sorry, but your mother just passed.”

Brenda was ready for my reaction. She took the coffee mug out of my hand as I covered my audible sob. Her sweet arms hugged me as I continued to cry. Finally, my need to purge grief subsided, her hug loosened, and our eyes met.

“Spend as much time as you need.”

The room was oddly silent as I walked to my familiar spot next to the bed. Mom was serene; her closed eyes had lost their tightness. Although her body had ceased to function, I felt her soul nearby.

“Hi, Mom. It’s Dawn. It’s all over. Don’t worry about anything. You can be with Daddy now.”

I stroked her still warm forehead, “I love you.”

I closed the hospital room door and headed for the nurse’s station to thank them. Then, out of the blue, I heard myself telling the story of my funny experience in the drive-up at Bojangles. I knew Mom’s soul was there, too, laughing along with us.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

Hospitals and death can be harrowing experiences. Or they can be joyful. Allowing my emotion’s full impact when I had the loving support of nurse Brenda opened up space for the joy of release. The release was for my Mom and me. Furthermore, it gave me the freedom to relieve the natural stress felt by the hospital staff.

Having experienced the deaths of two husbands, my father and now my mother, in the past seven years has served as a primer for grieving and letting go.

Mom and I discussed death many times. She and I were together at Dad’s passing. And both were adamant in their wish to allow death it’s due. I’m grateful Mom’s end of life wasn’t prolonged and that the hospital staff supported our decisions.

My understanding of the importance of self-care, especially in the role of caregiver, has brought me peace. I have learned how to find joy instead of despair. So, may your life experiences bring you growth toward fulfilling your purpose.

The Effects of Self-Imposed Stress

Note: this blog was written right before my awareness there was a  pandemic looming in February 2020. At the time I felt it was insensitive to write about my ‘self-imposed’ stress. Now, sixteen months later, I resurrected it from my drafts.

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Last week I suffered the effects of self-imposed stress. Just thinking about it sends chills down my spine.

Some part of me knew I’d let my activities and choices get out of hand. However, it was more obvious to my husband and mother, who live with me. During the previous month, I had whittled away the major contributor, giving away my time and energy to aid causes more than myself. Yes, I resigned my last job as a volunteer. I thought that was enough. It wasn’t.

Stress Manifests in My Life

First, I noticed a small headache, off and on for a few days. Then exhaustion hit me about midday on day one, Friday. Although unusual for me, I took a nap, a two hour nap. Meanwhile, my plan to cook an elaborate dinner with the chops I’d purchased, evaporated. I found some hot dogs in the back of the meat drawer. It sounded appetizing with the leftover, homemade macaroni and cheese. After serving up the Cleveland Red Beet Kraut, I found a spurt of energy, looking at the colorful shades of red and yellow food choices.

I went to bed early and slept over seven hours, meeting my Fitbit sleep goal. Yeah!

Day Two Starts a Little Better

My usual routine in the morning included a breakfast of carefully measured oatmeal, chopped apple, crystallized ginger, and a boiled egg for added protein. I logged it, just as I’ve done for the last three months.

Essential items were getting low; milk, half and half, peanut butter, bananas, and I needed apples for the Waldorf salad I planned to make. As I finally left for town it was close to lunchtime. I opted for the cafe in Bok Tower Gardens and one of my favorite wraps, Buffalo Chicken. Afterward I went for a fifteen minute stroll.

I was feeling unusually tired from my little walk, but there were still groceries to buy. Arriving home, I carried the groceries and headed for the stairs to the kitchen. My legs seemed so heavy. I took each step slowly, first the left foot, then the right, resting the grocery bags on the steps above.

As soon as I put the milk away, I fell into bed, noticing I had two hours before a group coaching call with Connie Chapman. Just twenty minutes before the call, I awoke and hurried to my downstairs office.  As usual, my Internet was too weak for Zoom in my office, too far from the signal. I went outside and sat in the carport, directly below the WiFi modem.

A Release Valve

The positive energy of the call with women around the world, left me feeling energized as I walked to the back door. It was locked. I had no key. I carefully placed my iPad on the washing machine and phoned my husband. No answer. I lost it. I pounded my fists on the door, and let out a blood-curdling scream. There were no words in the scream, just a huge release.

My mother, who lives downstairs, opened the door with a look of surprise.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m much better now,” I calmly replied.

Even though late in the day, it was much easier navigating the stairs, until the last four steps when exhaustion set in again. As I headed toward the bedroom, I told Wayne I couldn’t prepare supper, and fell into bed. I slept a few hours, ate a banana smeared with peanut butter, and returned to bed and my usual restlessness.

Day Three Looms

Waking up early, I felt better. However, some of the activities I had accepted as normal the week before, seemed out of place or needed adjustment. Shortly after sitting on the pew in church with my mother on Sunday morning, I felt woozy.

“I’m going to sit a spell in the Ladies Lounge, Mom. I’ll make sure I come back during the recessional.”

“Okay,” she replied.

Sitting nearly alone in the quiet of the supportive, yet comfortable chair, felt like a perfect solution to my ‘spell’. I rested, meditated, and felt somewhat refreshed as the time drew close to my scheduled return to the sanctuary.

I was mildly concerned that my ninety-one-year-old mother might have had some difficulty as I steadily walked down the aisle by the modern, stain-glass windows. However, there she was, turning slowly as the cross held high, went past her pew. I slipped in and found my absence had the benefit of offering up my unused bulletin to a late comer. They had underestimated the number of people coming to worship.

Driving home was uneventful. It was somewhat difficult to get out of the car, but my legs seemed fine, that is, until it was time to climb the stairs. At first, I wasn’t sure I could make it. But I stood tall and willed my legs up each step.

The Next 18 Hours

I slept. Eighteen hours were spent in and out of bed; sometimes tossing, sometimes thoughts invading, sometimes restful.

A New Day Dawns

There was no doubt in my mind I’d had a wake up call. I was a different, calmer person who knew what to do and felt no emotion as I started the routine of my Monday. With my cup of coffee resting on the table, I took my iPhone and started making methodical changes. Notifications were the first cut. Then the Group Memberships on Facebook dissolved. Next I made the decision to quit logging my food, moving the app to a less visible screen. By the time I’d finished my coffee, I felt lighter, calmer, and refreshed.

Right now, however, in my new way of being, I’m feeling the need to sit and stare at the lakeshore, waiting for the resident white egret.

To be continued…

Was Stress the Only Factor?

Now, in hindsight, I realize through my over zealous activity, I’ve been avoiding the one thing I fear most, writing my stories in a book, a memoir. This physical breakdown was like a door that allowed me to walk through to the other side, where my destiny awaits. I invite you to sign up for my newsletter, where I’ll bring you farther into my world of writing.

Calmly,
Dawn

My Walk Toward Healing

My walk toward healing is a continuation of my last blog, My Walk on the Wild Side. I promised to write the following week about my personal shamanic healing with The Healing Hummingbird, Meredith Johnson. Rather, during these last two weeks, my healing slowly increased in volume in subtle, yet concrete ways.

My Walk Toward Healing Guidance

The Big Project

If you browse through my blogs, you’ll find I’ve been taking small steps toward fulfilling my life purpose for years. It is a lot like a huge project, My Life Purpose, with many assets (people), contributing skills toward the successful completion of the project.

Yet, one thread is consistent. Me. It is in my control what I notice, whom I choose, where I go.

How did I find The Healing Hummingbird? Slowly, I’ve followed my intuition toward making new contacts, friendships, decisions that became a new circle of friends. While in Denver, Colorado, I met them in person. It was easy because it was like dipping a cane pole in a trout pond. The density of fish increased my likelihood of bringing one to shore.

In Florida, the energy is quite different. Then add in a pandemic, and I’m forced to make new connections via electronic sources.  Often these connections come via email, which is a modern connection. Or perhaps I’m searching for a practitioner on the Internet. Rather than finding my initial quest, something new in the results catches my eye and I head down that side trail.

Similarly, an ads stops my scroll on social media. I click on it. Perhaps that click didn’t seem to be the answer. My curiosity pushes me on, digging a little deeper, scrolling a little farther, and finally the person I’m meant to choose draws me in. It’s like a bigger force has gently taken my hand to guide my walk toward healing.

What Healing Occured?

During my Shamanic healing, there were beautiful moments of my chest opening up, feeling full, then lighter. Most notable were the self-care reminders that came through, like these:

  • Dissolve epsom salt in a bucket of warm water, pouring it over your head in the shower
  • Drink hot tea with ginger
  • Massage your feet, then wrap them in warmth
  • Indulge yourself with your morning coffee
  • Waft the smoke of Palo Santo around your body

Perhaps one of my self-care options appeals to you. My favorite new understanding was using epsom salt in the shower. With my arthritis, it’s difficult to get up from a bathtub, keeping me from enjoying the benefits of a soaking bath. As I pour the ion-rich warm water over my head, I literally feel unnecessary  layers slough off my skin.

Your Walk Toward Healing

The Most Important Tip

Above all, finding your own way is paramount to achieving fulfillment… happiness.

By learning to feel sensations in your body, you move toward an understanding of your unique path.

And the Way is

Plain and simple – deep breathing.

Deep Breathing —> Meditation
Meditation —> Being in the Moment
Being in the Moment —> Feeling Sensations in Your Body
Feeling Sensations in Your Body —> Where You Want to Go

There are other paths that are available to you when you start down your walk toward fulfillment. Deep breathing can be the first step. Be curious.

See you on the path,
Dawn