Looking Forward (Or Deja Vu?)

You never know where the road is going to take you. Be careful with yourself. Don’t abuse yourself or others, or take your body (or life) for granted.

One day you may be in a situation where you don’t know what’s next for it – and whether you believe me or not, or like it or not, or think it’s a dramatic statement or not, I don’t care – it’s a terrifying and uncomfortable place to be, especially when you have small children.

It’s funny how you can be considering the future, looking forward and not behind, but feel as though you are watching your past happen all over again – and you never expected it and thought you’d done everything to prevent it from ever being this way again. Well. When it comes to the body, and to life, really, sometimes things just happen.

Sometimes things happen and they’re scary and they’re hard and you can’t talk about it because…well, no one will understand and you don’t want anyone to act a certain way, or maybe you just don’t want to be vulnerable because you’re already possibly more vulnerable than many people assume.

You don’t mean to be vague but you are just doing the best you can to process your own existence – and you have no clue. None. Not even a tiny one. You’re just waiting. You’re waiting because it’s deja vu and you know what happened then; but, it’s also a different experience and you know it’s “now,” not “then,” but you’re gun-shy from the last experience…so time is the only source of answers, if time or answers even exist.

Life is like driving a car. You can drive all you want, but you never really have power or control over anything. Forces far greater than you do – and sometimes they’re not kind. And, if you think you do have everything under control? It’s an illusion.

Don’t delude yourself. You’re going to be in a world of hurt at some point, if you do. Don’t forget that when you dance, eventually you have to pay the band.

Don’t assume you know people. Don’t assume you know what’s going on in their life. Don’t judge based on what you THINK you know, because in reality? You don’t know squat except about yourself. Focus on that, unless you do know facts and you can be of some emotional or physical help in someone’s life.

That’s what the last few years have taught me, in being treated like crap, and allowing myself to be used by people and abused by the medical system. Did it make me stronger? Wiser? Yes. Did it hurt? Badly? Also, absolutely yes.

Don’t be a selfish jerk. Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Make it a great day. I love you all. ❤️

~C.

Fertilize Your Mind

Quote from a colleague:

“The quest for knowledge can not be abandoned.”

So very true. Expand your mind. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant, or, worse yet, frozen in time like this camellia in my backyard this morning.

The brain naturally shrinks with age, despite being filled with this “knowing” stacked upon that “knowing,” even without trauma or defects caused by medical situations or diseases.

…with increasing age and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions, and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones. (NCBI)

It’s hard enough to remember what you already know as you get older, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to continue to learn – even if that includes unlearning only to relearn from a different perspective. The only way to slow the shrinkage is to continue to learn.

Read. Think about things in an interactive way. Write. Do things to exercise your brain, whether with puzzles or word games or just deep conversations with yourself in thought. Train (and/or retrain) your mind. Remain active in mindful and conscious ways. You’ll thank yourself for it.

I suppose this is a big deal to me because of physiological psychology and being a scholar in that field, but more than anything it comes from what I watched my mother suffer as she deteriorated from the added and horrific bonus of early onset dementia that turned to Alzheimer’s.

Take care of your mind. Fertilize it. Grow it well. Maintain it. Keep it in bloom. ❤️

Wolf Moon Sunrise

Sunrise this morning. Can you spot the moon? I’m going to be set up for a better shot when it’s higher in the morning. 💜

With the full moon, a time of seeing clearly and releasing, may you be reminded and have the courage to break the cycles and patterns in your life that do not serve you anything but harm and pain. 🙏

You’ll never know…

…until you have actually and fully been there.

Until you have actually walked this road in a way that leaves the soles of your shoes worn out and developing holes, and your feet blistered and bleeding twice as much as your heart pumps through you and until you have not only seen but had no choice but to actively participate in the sights and scenes DAILY, because there literally was no one else, for so long that you feel like you’re in a Stephen King novel, no – you will never know what it’s really like.

How it can wear you so thin that it nearly destroys you, the way water seems to work like acid and melts cheap toilet paper.

How it can tear you down to a level that you, as compassionate and kind a person you are or try to be, think, “the next time someone tells me I should smile more, or I should look on the bright side (which is what? That eventually she’ll die and I won’t have to do this anymore?) I’m going to punch them in the face.”

How you start avoiding people because you’re sick of their hypocritical judgments and comparisons, OR the way they pretend to understand when you know good and well they have no clue so you just stop talking about it and pretend it’s easy and everything is fine…

100%. Until you’ve done it, you’ll never understand completely what it’s like. I shared a lot of our journey. Even then it was only a fraction and what I did share was picked apart by completely irrelevant, inexperienced people. But I will keep sharing this until we have real reform and raise the standard of care for caregivers and their loved ones with dementia. (Thank you, Martina.)

When my mom died, it broke me. It wasn’t the grief that broke me, it was the RELIEF that broke me. Because I had no idea what to do with it. And I felt guilty for feeling it in the first place.

Finally being able to breathe and stop and rest after SO LONG of being a full time care giver going between two homes and three people (wait, four – but I never really thought of myself, lol) and dealing with doctors and being sick myself…?

THAT almost killed me.

I’m not exaggerating or trying to be dramatic or draw attention, which is what people always love to say when you share thoughts like this (which reallllly doesn’t help so just shut up because that kind of thing can drive someone over an edge you will never understand when they’re grieving loss after caregiving).

I just finished writing a whole chapter about this. Maybe I’ll share it via my blog… For now, here’s the thing I want you to know and remember:

If you’re in a situation like this or are grieving after a situation like this, know that you’re not alone. Know that there ARE those who see you and feel you because they’re there, too, or they’ve been there before.

I pray not one of you ever has to go through it (or go through it again).

If you are forced to go through it, I pray you get the resources you need (financially and otherwise) sooner than a month before your loved one dies because the only thing that finally saves the day is hospice.

I pray if you do face this situation, you have less people than more coming at you with what you need to do and how you need to act but NEVER actually doing anything to help you do what they think you should do and regularly acting the same way you’re acting despite not being in your shoes and instead having everything they could ever want or need.

And I pray that if you ever find yourself in those shoes, you give yourself grace and you forgive yourself daily, before the day begins, for the fact that you’re never going to be perfect. You’re not going to get it right and keep your cool and manage your emotions well EVERY DAY. You’re just not. Period. So accept it and be gentle with yourself and just keep doing the best that you can. You’ve got this. You really do. You don’t think you do or feel that you do, BUT YOU DO. 🙏💜🙏

And if you’ve never been there at this level and never have to be? I pray you don’t take that privilege for granted. Because you ARE privileged.

💜💙💜

How I Mom

This is how I “mom.” My mom “mommed” like this a couple of times in my life and now that she’s gone those couple of moments are the ones I remember the most. Reading this reminds me to do this for myself more…sometimes, we forget – especially when we don’t have anyone reminding us. This is your reminder.

Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Have a beautiful day.

XO.

~C.

____________________________________________________

The whole world paused this morning. Do you know why? Because an 8 year old’s tank was empty.

The boys had already started their school day at their desks and I was preparing to leave for work when I noticed my littlest standing in the bathroom wiping his face.

I paused at the door and asked if he was okay. He looked up with tears silently dripping and shook his head. When I questioned if something happened, again he shook his head.

So I sat on the side of the tub and pulled him in my lap. I told him sometimes our heart tanks feel empty and need to be refilled.

He cried into my chest and I held tight.

I asked if he could feel my love filling him up?

A nod, and tears stopped…

I waited a minute…

“Has it reached your toes yet?”

He shook his head no…

“Okay man. We will take as long as you need. Work doesn’t matter right now. School isn’t important either. This right here, is the most important thing today, okay? Filling you back to the top. Is that good?”

nods

One more minute…

“Is your heart full of mamas love now?”

“Yeah…”

looks in his eyes

“I see it shining in there, you’re full to the top, and you’re smiling!”

You may not be 8 – you may be 28, 38, 48 or whatever- but ALL of us run on empty just like he did. His week was so busy and so full and his little soul was just dry!

We all have to pause, and take a moment to refill with the good things. prayer, sunshine, laughter, friends, hugs. Refill your empty, or you’ll find those emotions (tears, anger, snappy words) overflowing with no reason why.

Take a moment. Refill. It’s the most important part of your day! ❤

~Jennifer Lemcke

Don’t Grind.

Sunrise thoughts and a thing nature taught me a long time ago. Spirituality and self-discovery go hand in hand, and they work the same way: both are a never ending journey. Wax on, wax off. Learn, unlearn. Learn again. Change habits. Become, unbecome. Become again. Know better, do better. Love yourself, love others. Rinse, repeat.

And this idea so many people have of grinding? It’s insanity. Grinding is NOT what you need to be doing. The definition of grind is to wear away, to destroy. You are killing yourself to do what? Have more stuff that you don’t need? Make other people happy? Working to the point of taking care of yourself is one thing. “Grinding?” Totally different thing.

At some point, you have to decide that you’re going to enjoy what you have while you’re here to enjoy it rather than constantly want more or be dissatisfied in life. In fact? That is exactly why people are dissatisfied in and with their lives. That’s why people are not really and truly happy – “at the core” happy.

It is really because they are doing one (or both) of two things: holding on to what has long been over and carrying anger and bitterness with them in everything they do and doing the things they do for the wrong reasons, or trying to maintain a certain life that isn’t really living. A truly happy life is one that can maintain itself with just a normal amount of effort, because there is balance.

Grind yourself down with a constant focus on one thing – even something you love – and you will no longer be balanced. You will no longer be strong. You will no longer love that thing or that person. You will no longer be you. You will wear away every beautiful, unique thing about yourself and end up exhausted, aching, empty and bitter.

Sunrise.

Please don’t grind. Work hard, but don’t grind. Do more of what makes you happy. Do it from a mindful space and conscious heart. Awaken yourself to ALL that life has to offer. Pro tip: it’s not found in material things. It’s not found in excess. There is no such thing as security – any of us could lose everything in a single breath. No, it’s not something you can hold. It’s something you can feel, and it is found in the space between breaths. You can find it there no matter where you are or what you’re doing or who you’re with – try it, and you’ll see.

No matter what you’re doing, throughout the day today randomly become conscious of the fact that you are breathing. You can still be doing whatever you’re doing – just be aware. In that silent, focused pause between breaths, remember that one day that will be a permanent situation. One day, there will be no breath. One day you will CEASE TO BREATHE, and therefore cease to have that moment. This moment. Any moment. Every moment.

It might come sooner that any of us think, that permanent space between breaths. You never know… Appreciate everything. Even the pain is teaching you. It’s showing you what not to do. It’s showing you what your body needs you do, what your soul needs you to do, what your higher self needs you do.

Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Have a beautiful day. 💜

Lesson From a Nope Rope

I believe this is a hybrid rattlesnake – the product of a timber rattler and a diamondback. I could be wrong.

So, this is raw. I never edited any of this. I have so much b-roll stuff from our hikes and stuff and I pick and choose bits here and there when I produce something. This is some of that footage that I came across when getting my stuff together for the project I’m working on.

I’m glad I came across this. I’d forgotten about it. It reminded of something about myself that I think a lot of people tend to misjudge. Don’t be led astray by my mostly nice, friendly, patient and overly kind demeanor. Don’t think I’m as ignorant as I might look. Don’t think I don’t know things just because I don’t say them out loud. I’m kind – not stupid. I am not afraid of much, not even poisonous snakes in the grass. Thing is, the worst snakes in the grass are people – it’s really the wrong phrase to use to describe a sneaky, lying, abusive human fool. Kind of an insult to snakes, if you ask me…

You see how calm this nope rope is? Maybe it just ate (doesn’t much look like it). Maybe it was a little cool (doubt it because I was sweating like crazy – this was a humid, warm July morning). Actual snakes don’t want to bother you. They really don’t. Maybe this dude just didn’t feel threatened by me. Animals rarely do. Only God knows why that is. But I can tell you this:

I wasn’t afraid of getting close to this guy, even if maybe I should’ve been, but I also was not stupid enough to try to handle it. No – I’m only that stupid when it comes to people. I never used to be the “once bitten, twice shy” type. I used to let them strike me and just forgive and pretend things were fine. I would give a person every reason to believe in me and make sure they knew that I still believed in them and cared about them. I would be willfully ignorant to the point that I was breaking my own heart.

But you know what people do? Even “family?” They don’t see that. They don’t see your heart. They don’t see your actions. They don’t see what you do for them because you love them. They just see what they want and take it from you and go on. Many times they don’t even need be provoked. They’ll strike out of the blue, with no warning at all – unlike this guy, who would have at least warned me. Thing with people is, you have to let them do it more than once. So don’t let them, because if they continually behave in ways that hurt you and refuse to respect you? They’re never going to change. Have no doubt – I have finally learned that lesson.

Today? Once bitten? I’m absolutely going to be twice shy. Still kind, with the same heart beating inside of me, but I’ll never trust you again. Once I’m done, I’m done. And if I ever reach that point with you, you have only yourself and your own behavior to blame. Just ask my father in law. His life wasn’t in vain. He taught all of us this lesson.