Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesdays With Morrie Quotes

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." (p.43)


The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." (p.52)

"I've learned this much about marriage. You get tested. You find out who you are, who the other person is, and how you accommodate or don't." (p.149)

* * *

"...there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don't respect the other person, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don't know how to compromise, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can't talk openly about what goes on between you, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don't have a common set of values in life, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike." (p.149)

* * *

"I think marriage is a very important thing to do, and you're missing a hell of a lot if you don't try it." (p.149)


We...need to forgive ourselves...For all the things we didn't do. All the things we should have done. You can't get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened." (p.166)

Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”“A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.” “A wrestling match. Yes you could describe life that way.” “Which side wins?” “Love wins. Love always wins." (p.40)\

“That’s what we’re all looking for. A certain peace with the idea of dying. If we know, in the end, that we can ultimately have that peace with dying, then we can finally do the really hard thing.” “Which is?” “Make peace with living.”
pg 174

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away.”“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Calm in chaos...

“Without doing anything, things can sometimes go more smoothly just because of our peaceful presence. In a small boat when a storm comes, if one person remains solid and calm, others will not panic and the boat is more likely to stay afloat.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh in "Love in Action"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

WKU theatricals...

I have spent a lot of time lately on facebook connecting with old friends from college.
It has made me incredibly nostalgic. This would be my 25 year reunion if I did such things. But I don't think the theater department does reunions anymore?

One person in particular has been posting pictures from the 80's. My GAWD, the hair! The glasses! Did we really think we were fetching??? I recall spending much of my time in the scene shop~ I was a "techie" and pretty much was in jeans and t-shirts all the time. However I layered on the makeup and wore my sweatshirts appropriately ripped ala "Flashdance".

I look at the pictures and realize we were just kids. Everyone looks so young and goofy and innocent. I can't believe it has been 25 years, 3 careers and over 15 moves ago...

Some of the people in the pictures are dead now. Part of the 80's was the AIDS epidemic and it touched all of us in the theater department eventually. I mourn the young men who never got a chance to grow old. I mourn the loss of the theater community. I grieve over the talent that never got to bloom, the songs unsung, the words never written...

I think now, looking at those faces frozen in time full of hopes and dreams, it is those faces that started me on the path to becoming a social worker.

The AIDS epidemic really hit hard when I lived in NYC. Stories of men dying daily, shunned by family, friends, the medical community and the government cut me to the quick. HIV positive babies that no one would hold, kids people were afraid to hug, people dying alone with no one to hold their hand made me angry and sad. I did a little but not enough. It never is enough at times like that. But it was a start and now I am a social worker and I can do more. I have the knowledge and the resources and I can now finally make a difference: maybe not for the kids in the pictures from 25 years ago, but because of them, I can do it for the kids today.

Doggone It!

This morning I heard thumpa thumpa thumpa thud! and ran into the living room where all 4 cats were peering into the basement... yes Molly was laying as if dead at the bottom of the basement stairs!!!!
I screamed and Bob came running and we both ran downstairs as Molly popped her head up and said "WTF?!"

Then Bob carried up the stairs just like Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara...





She has spent the day toddling around as if nothing happened.
Bob said it was like she had a chiropractic adjustment and we need to toss her downstairs weekly...

(I think the cats pushed her!)

Ahhhhh




Finally, its Fall.
Sleeping with the windows open again, snuggling under quilts, tucked in with cats, leaves starting to turn, crisp apples from the orchard...
It is my favorite season.
The horrid summer is over!!!
I am yearning for hot chocolate and oatmeal, soups bubbling on the stove and getting to wear sweaters again.

Lately life has been getting better. The hubster is working and doing marvelously well. He has found a job where he is appreciated, his talents are being used and he is helping people. All things we had hoped for. Oh, and he gets paid too!

My job continues to be thrilling, tough, demanding, chaotic and I love every minute of it. I have switched over completely to full time therapist now. I have 5 teenagers on my caseload... quite different from the scads of elementary school boys I had last year! I have clients in neighboring counties and spend a day or two a week out of town. I like that though. The drive is nice, it gives me time to reflect and mull over things while driving down country roads past horses and cows.

Molly Dawg continues to confound us. She is still hanging in there with more good days than bad. So we celebrate each one as it comes.

Also Dennis the fish is swimming strong. I thought about getting him a friend, but he would probably fight it, so I just let him have a mirror and he can stare at himself.
That seems enough to keep him happy!

OK, the urge is too strong, I am off to make hot chocolate, more blogging later...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Waiting

We are spending time with Molly but she sleeps a lot lately. She is hanging in there, stubborn as I am.
Its a waiting game really.

I have been thinking about waiting. I have a dear friend who is pregnant and I think about her waiting for the baby to arrive. It isn't always pleasant, there is morning sickness, aches and pains as ligaments and joints stretch and reshape to accommodate the growing child. The end result will be worth the wait, but the journey itself is trying at times.

So how does this relate to watching a beloved pet die?
I am not sure. I am grappling with that connection.
There are painful moments balanced by joyous moments. There are times when I realize that having Molly in our lives has been worth every moment of our discomfort. That the love she brings into our home far out weighs any suffering we endure. And in turn I want to grant her mercy from her suffering. I willingly take on the emotional pain to spare her physical pain. It is the least I can do for her.

I know my friend would take on any amount of pain for her child. Or her husband or her friends. She is generous to a fault. She is going to be a doctor and is sitting out a semester of her 3rd year to have her baby. She blogs about waiting. At times she is impatient and wants to hurry the process. At times she slows down and lives in the moment. She is an example for me, a touchstone of reality and hope. She reminds me that life, amazing and complex, doesn't stop, but continues in mysterious and magic ways. That miracles happen and love never ends.

We just have to wait for it some times.

Thanks Katie for the reminders.

Friends of the heart.

Today after a long absence I went to church.
Now God and I talk all the time... I natter on constantly and God patiently listens and listens and listens.
But sometimes I need a format for my faith, I need to be surrounded by people who think like me, who see God everywhere, who live their faith so well they don't have to talk about it.

So after some urging of a friend and colleague I went to church. A new church peopled with old friends. A few years back the church I attended fell apart. These things happen, I know. Politics and religion and faith get confused and people get hurt. Things get said that can't be unsaid, feelings are hurt, people come and go, some stay, some don't...
The church I went to was for a while, a home for me. I tend to wander religiously. I grew up Baptist, stopped for awhile, became Catholic, attended an African American Presbyterian church in NYC, went back to being Catholic, tried some other churches, and finally landed for awhile in an Episcopal church where there were Baptist hymns, mandolins, labyrinths and an amazing sense of the Holy Spirit. I, who never joined groups, joined groups, spoke in front of a crowd, was elected to the Vestry and loved every minute of it. Until it ended. Then I picked up and moved on. It has taken awhile to get in the groove of going to church again. I saw too many people I loved hurt by the shake up in administration. Priests left, people were fired, harsh words were said and sides were taken while many, many tears were shed...
And some wondered where was God in all this? That's just the thing, God was there, we were the ones running around frantic, hurting and blaming. We the humans were the ones hurting each other. So I took a break from the humans. Luckily God sticks around no matter what, He hangs out in my car, my home, my heart. I can tap into God whenever, wherever, but the friends, they are not so easy...
A lot have gone elsewhere, some here in town, some out of town. I had been traveling about 40 minutes away to go to church near the Retreat Center. But w/ the price of gas and our current money saving tactics, I decided to look closer to home. So I went to a place where I knew a few people. It was lovely.
I saw friends who had a place in my heart forever and always. One of my dearest friends was the chalice bearer and served me communion. I got hugs and gave hugs. I reconnected. I stayed for Sunday school after the service. We had it on the porch under the trees, talking as the wind blew gently and the birds sang.
It was good to be back. To see friends, to pray in a group, to sing, to be silent, to take communion.
I am a prodigal daughter and I am back...
Just let the calf live!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Attachment

I spent the past week in training, learning new therapy techniques to teach parents and to work with kids. It was all about attachment; forming a bond, healing a relationship.
In other words the best thing you can ever give a child is love.

No amount of "things" can replace what only 5 minutes of concentrated positive parent/child time gives a child.

We learned that even with babies, spending time with them, imitating their expressions, acting as a mirror, cooing when they coo, laughing when they laugh, smiling when they smile, will increase the bond and make them mentally healthier babies.

With smaller children spending 5 minutes a day in "special play time" where the parent describes what the child is doing; "you are building a tower with the blue blocks" you are making the bear dance!" and adding labeled praise "I like how gentle you are with the bear!" "You are so creative" shows the child that you are focused on them, and tuned in to them. Also only positive behaviors are rewarded. Negative behaviors are totally ignored. TOTALLY IGNORED! That's a tough one~ when a child is screaming, hitting, kicking and even cussing, the parent ignores it, but when they finally show a positive behavior, like sitting quietly, the parent praises the child and then moves on...

This actually reminded me a lot of the Dog Whisperer! Cesar works with "bad" dogs with much the same techniques. It all goes back to basic psychology: stimulus / response.
You reinforce the behaviors you want to see more of! So you don't reward a child when they are misbehaving by giving them ANY attention whatsoever! Because this will reinforce the "If I am whining, eventually I will get a toy to shut up!"

Its a pretty basic but incredibly tough concept to put into action. As humans we are programmed to nurture. When a baby cries or seems distressed we want to take care of him/her. But a toddler learns that if they cry long enough they can get candy, things, attention which they equate with love, if the love isn't given in a positive manner...

I think the toughest job in the world is parenting. You have to provide enduring, unconditional love, but you also have to set limits, boundaries and rules and enforce all those even when your heart is breaking. I admire everyone who does it well.

I was blessed that I had great parents, and wonderful older siblings who gave me both roots and wings. My older sibs have incredible children who are now raising even more incredible, amazing, beautiful children, my "greats" as I call them. The greats have a solid foundation of love. They will know what attachment is all about. (My greats will never end up on my caseload)

Good job, sibs, neices and nephew, good job greats. I love you all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

LIfe in general

This week has been OK.
Molly is having more good days than bad. Bob found a job, passed his licensing exam and will be working for the Duck...
I have been in training all week, learning new therapy techniques and meeting people from Texas, Michigan and other agencies.

And its feeling like fall. The air is cool, we had a beautiful thunderstorm and I think I saw leaves starting to change.

I am glad summer is leaving. I am not a fan of summer. I don't like the heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes, pretty much everything. I am an Autumn person. I like the cooling off, the excitement of putting on a sweater, that first cup of hot chocolate, the crunch of leaves under my feet, the apples that are tart and crisp, pumpkins, making chili and soup, the adding a quilt to the bed and best of all, turning off the A/C and sleeping with the windows open again!
Even when its raining...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Molly Dawg update

Molly continues to decline day after day. We have had "the talk" with her vet: quality of life vs. quantity. We are keeping her comfortable and taking it day by day.

Its hard making the decision, but we have decided to euthanize her soon. We just haven't decided the exact time or day. There comes a strange peace with having made the decision. An acceptance. I know that it will hurt me to let her go. I know that it is best for her, to free her from a failing body, from legs that can no longer bear her weight, take her around the block or even around the yard. I know that she will never be sick again, never feel misery or suffer in any way. But I don't want her to go. I am selfish like that. I want to hang on to my dog. My funny goofy olden golden.
I spend the days remembering the time we have shared. It has only been 4 years. Not nearly enough. I knew that taking in an old dog would have its risks. I knew she would break my heart. I gladly let her.

From the moment I first laid eyes on Molly Dawg, it was love. She was the calm in the midst of chaos, the only quiet dog at the Humane Society. She was sitting there dignified and regal while all around her the hounds barked and yipped, snarled and howled. She seemed to be waiting for me. When I approached her cage, she came forward, licked my hand and sat down grinning her big old goofy golden grin, as if to say "What took you so long?"

I don't want her to have to ask that question a second time. I just hope and pray that I don't hold on too long and make her suffer. I hope I will know when she is ready to go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Today's 10 gratitudes

1: A good vet visit w/ Molly~ a little more time w/ our dawg.
2: My family
3: Coffee
4: Lower gas prices
5: Fewer hot flashes
6: Cute shoes
7: Cooler temperatures
8: More cases at work
9: Hearing from Jill and Do Do~ two long lost friends!
10: Waking up to birds singing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Monday's 10

I am grateful for:
cheese
crackers
fans
old friends
my hubster
well written books
the smell of newly mown hay
big salty tears
belly laughs
the years of love from creatures great and small...

Healing

Its been a couple of rough weeks. Lots of stress, tears, and anxiety.
Yup, and I am a therapist! Proving that even if we have the knowledge, we are still human, fallible and vulnerable to life's whimsy.

The husbster is doing well, out interviewing, studying, looking for a new career. I am proud of him. He is ready to take a risk at happiness. He is brave and strong and my hero today. He is my best friend and I love him so insanely that its hard to believe we have been married for over 19 years. He still makes me laugh through my tears, he's the hand holding mine in the darkness, the one who sees the worst of me and loves me anyway. I thank God for him...

That is what I am trying to do this week, count my blessings. The clinicians were sitting around one day talking about various techniques we use with our clients and several mentioned the "attitude of gratitude". I am ashamed to say I had forgotten to use that myself lately. I now try to list 10 things daily for which I am grateful.
It is my way of keeping the darkness out of my soul.

I also have had the chance to reconnect with old friends lately. I spent yesterday with three of my best loved former co-workers. Two worked with me at the same time )the vet and the tech), and third will be working w/ the vet very soon. It is a lovely weave in the tapestry of my life. My old friends meeting my newer friends and forming a bridge of friendship that includes me somewhere in the mix! It made me grateful to be surrounded by such loving and true friends. To sit and share stories and laughter, to remember the fun times in a hard business. To recall beautiful animals we had loved and lost. The visit ended all too soon...

Molly dawg continues to hang on, stubborn like her momma. I feel in my bones that something is going on other than just arthritis. Her appetite decreases, her sleep lenghtens and deepens, and my heart grows heavier knowing that my time with her is coming to an end. I am grieving already. The hubster points out that once again, I am sneaking a peek at the end of the book, reading the final pages before its time. Its how I am. I am never good at waiting. I hate surprises. I hate the unknown. I want to know and own a situation. Yes, I do have control issues...
God and I wrangle over this all the time. I forget to get out of His way a lot.
For now I just want Molly dawg comfortable and pain free...

I had the opportunity to spend time alone this weekend, just listening to music, to nature, to silence, driving around by myself, in the lush greenness of KY, and it helped. After being around people so much, listening to them, counseling them, I realize, once again, I NEED time by myself. Alone. I love people, I always have. I love listening to their stories, figuring out what makes them tick, who they are, what they do and why. But it takes an enormous amount of energy from me. In order to recharge, I need to go off by myself. To listen to silence. To let all the pain and hurt and tears of others drain from me, back into the earth, back into the universal pool, back to God. It is in the silence that I find healing. In the quiet I find solace and strength. I can understand why Christ went to the desert. I can understand why holy people go to the mountains. I understand why religious orders cloister themselves. There comes a time when the world is too much. When the burdens are too heavy for us humans alone. When we need to be still and listen. "Be still and know that I am God".
The world is a noisy place, busy, filled with "have to do this" and rushing and plans.
So busy and hurried, we forget who we are and whose we are...
I am grateful for the chance to remember.