We’ve all done it. Set ourselves a goal, moved successfully toward it, only to slip up along the way, and tell ourselves that it’s ok, because no one knows we slipped up. That is true enough, but we know…don’t we? That still might seem like no big deal, except humans tend to be a gullible sort, especially when it comes to allowing ourselves to do something that we want to do, even though we know it is not good for us. So, having convinced ourselves that no one knows that we slipped up, and we aren’t going to let it happen again…just this once.
Right…remember, we are talking about gullible humans. We may not be gullible in the sense of believing anything we are told, but when it comes to believing ourselves, well that’s a different story. How many times have we started out saying, “Well, I won’t work out today, and I’ll get right back on it tomorrow”, but somehow tomorrow never comes. Soon, all thought of success in our goal is gone. Then, disgust and self loathing set in. Pretty soon we figure we don’t deserve to succeed anyway. We are about as low as we can go.
Then, true to the human spirit, most of us wake up. We look the situation over and assess the damage. Then we get back on track and start working toward our goal again, a little worse for wear, and hopefully a whole lot wiser. And if we learn not to lie to ourselves, maybe with a chance of reaching that goal.
As a caregiver, I can understand fully just how easy it can be to hit the breaking point. Sometimes it comes with irritation, or worse, screaming at the person you are trying to help, but just as often, it comes in the form of an argument with someone else…one that has nothing to do with the things that are bothering the caregiver at all. Usually the breaking point happens over something that is so trivial that you wonder what your problem is. And sadly, so does everyone else. Basically it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s just that last thing to happen in a series of events that have been adding stress upon stress, to the point that you just have no more patience.
Caregivers tend to hold it all in for as long as they can in an effort to keep on keeping on. There is no way out of the situation…you are needed, and you would not leave your loved one without the help they need. You love them. So you simply pull yourself up by the bootstraps, take a deep breath, muster up every bit of adrenalin that you can, and you go on. It’s all you can do. Then, without warning, something hits that last straw point…that breaking point…and you find yourself losing that control you have worked so hard to maintain. It’s like watching yourself explode. You would stop it if you could, but it is beyond that point now. Your mouth is engaged, and your mind has already quit thinking rationally. It is probably the darkest, most horrible, single act that a caregiver can perform, and one that none of us want to do. We already know that we will have to apologize for acting in such a way…after all, it wasn’t the fault of the patient or whomever it was that we have just unloaded all those pent up feelings on. They were simply the last straw.
Not only do they not know what they did wrong, but they find themselves wondering why they never knew that you were insane before. You aren’t, of course, but you are overworked, and you are tired, and you are emotionally drained. The person you have always known to be strong and capable, has suddenly changed into a weak and needy person, and that has turned your life upside down. It is enough to make anyone go seemingly insane. You had always thought that your parents would always be your parents, and they are of course, but they are also your patient, and your responsibility. The tables have turned, and in the process, your life has hit a turning point too, and you don’t know what to do to fix it.
There really is no way to fix it. You find yourself in a position of having to accept that your parents will never be the strong people they were. That part of their life has passed, and the future…the winding down of their lives has been set in motion. Even if it was just a day ago that they felt fine, there is no going back that one day. Time marches on and we have to go with it. We have to learn to make the best of what we have now, and take care of ourselves well enough that perhaps we can avoid that next breaking point…because if we can’t, we will once again find ourselves looking at someone who has no idea what they have done to us. All they know is that the person they love is somehow furious at them, and it breaks their heart…at which point, we lose all that anger, wish we had not let things get out of control, and begin the process of repairing the relationship again with that all too familiar apology.
A few years ago, I found myself sinking into depression. There was so much going on in my life that I had no control over, and I was stressed out to say the least. This situation was so new to me. I had always been a happy person, and now I was becoming angry and bitter, and I didn’t like it one bit, but there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. My situation had taken on a life of it’s own.
After my Dad passed away in December of 2007, I found myself feeling like there wasn’t much to live for. It wasn’t like I wanted to commit suicide, I just felt so sad, that I couldn’t find anything to be happy about. We had fought so hard to get Dad back to health, and we were winning, and then his liver failed, and he was gone. It shook my whole world. Nothing was right, and it wouldn’t ever be right again. Even though I know that my Dad was saved, and I will see him again in Heaven, I missed him so much, and I still do, but I knew he wouldn’t want me to continue on in this depressed state.
I had to find a way back to life. I began to pray for help…for a way back. The Lord guided me first to begin eating better, thereby giving me more energy. Then the Lord began to encourage me to get outside and walk. I started walking on the trail near our home, and slowly began to feel like the fresh air and beauty of God’s creation, and the time spent talking with the Lord began to heal my spirit. I continue to look forward to the warmer months when I can get back outside and recharge again.
I still miss my Dad terribly, but I have been able to move forward with my life. I know I will see him again in Heaven, and I very much look forward to that day, but I know that I have a job to do here. My work here is not done. I am needed here. And my Dad would want me to live a full life.
I know that my life will always have it’s challenges, but the Lord is always there for me. He is my source of strength. I know many people might not find that to be true for them, but they have not been down the road I have. They have not seen the Lord help them to find the way back.
Why is it that we like social networking so much? I’m sure the reasons are as varied as the users…and the moments. I think many of us start out networking just to see what it’s all about, but then we get hooked. We like socializing. We like seeing what is going on in friends lives. We like reconnecting with friends from the past, or relatives who have moved far away. We can see pictures of babies as they grow, or post goofy faces to make our friends laugh. For many of us it can be very addictive.
Sometimes however, I think we just want to have our say without repercussion. Everyone has the right to free speech, right? Well maybe, but I’ve seen plenty of times were someone was chewed out pretty bad for having their say on a social network site. And maybe sometimes that is what they want. The shock factor. I think that when people constantly post negative, profanity filled, angry posts, they are looking for someone to argue with, and hoping someone will take the bait. Now I’m not saying that every negative post is that way, but the constant negative posts…I mean, can anyone’s life really be that horrible? Or do they want attention?
Another type of attention could be the reason too. Sometimes I think people are actually screaming for attention. A good example of this might be the kids who are constantly screaming about how awful their life or day was. Sometimes I wonder if they get much attention at home, but even if some don’t, it can’t always be that way. There are plenty of angry kids out there who have great parents, who spend a lot of time at their wits end. Their kids don’t talk to them, they scream. They are always venting about how horrible their lives are. The problem with that is that eventually they can’t find anything to be positive about. And they go on raging and raging until something finally changes.
But sometimes, the person on the social networking sites is just trying to see if anyone is out there. Loneliness can come in many forms. Sometimes the most heartbreaking things are first told to friends on Facebook. It isn’t a matter of wanting to get information out, it is a matter of feeling like people care. Like you don’t have to face this alone. When we post some of those terribly painful things, we want people to respond. To make us feel hugged…held. To make us feel loved. And for some, who are going through the worst types of pain, the losses, sometimes they are just looking for life after…
I have been noticing more and more children today thinking that the quality of their life and indeed, their very self worth, depends on how their day went at school, or whether a guy/girl likes them, or if their friend is mad at them. These things might seem like their life depends on the outcome, but the reality is that in a few years, none of this will matter. Their school years will pass, and they will look back and wonder what the big deal was.
The negative posts on Facebook, My Space, Twitter and more tell me that even the adults have somehow become caught up in that type of thinking. It concerns me that all the negative posts by adults are teaching our young people that this is just how adults act.
I would like to point out that very few people are still in the same dreary state in ten years, or often even the next day. Most people are going places. They are going to become something. Get married. Have children. Get jobs. These school years are so very short in comparison to the years of a life, that it is like a drop in the bucket of time. Sure, life is a wild ride, filled with its ups and downs, but most of you will survive the “horrible” moments…if you don’t give up on yourself.
So, next time you are tempted feel sorry for yourself about how horrible your life is, remember that today is but a fleeting moment in time, and the ups and downs that go with it, will be long forgotten very soon, because you are going places. Keep your chin up and look forward, to the future. It is just around the corner.
So often in today’s busy world, we find ourselves thinking, “I’m too busy to help others.” It’s true that we live in a fast paced world, and it would seem that since we are usually hurrying to get somewhere, we just couldn’t squeeze in even a moment to help someone else. That would put us even further behind schedule.
But, have you ever stopped long enough to look around at the “helpers” in your midst? I never really had, until I was a caregiver myself. There are many children out there taking care of aging parents.
I have taken my parents or my in-laws to the doctor, and there are lots other people, many about my age, in there with their parents. People who love their parents and want to give them the quality of life they are used to, but couldn’t have without help.
I ran into a friend at WalMart last weekend, and she has 3 children of her own, who keep her very busy, and yet, in the middle of all the running around she does for her kids, she finds time to go help her mother-in-law with housework and grooming, since she broke her arm in a car accident, and can’t do much by herself, and she does it with a smile and a wonderful, pleasant attitude.
My own son-in-law got a call from his brother, who had received a call from his aunt, who had been on the phone with my son-in-law’s mom, and she wasn’t making sense. My son-in-law, took time off from work to check on his mom. It turned out that his mom had experienced a stroke, and was in need of medical attention. He has since done whatever he can to assist her in her daily needs.
I often have clients who come into my office with their children or grandchildren bringing them, because they don’t drive anymore, and couldn’t make the trip without someone to help them. These are just good, kind children who show love for their parents or grandparents by helping them out with their errands.
These people didn’t plan to be caregivers at this point in their lives. We all think that when our kids are raised, those types of responsibilities will go away, and we will be free as birds, but often life throws you a curve ball, and then it is your turn to step up to the plate and show your helper’s heart.
If you find yourself in the position of caring for a loved one, think about this one thing…you still have them.
There is an old saying by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that goes like this. “Into each life a little rain must fall.” There is no way for each and every day of our lives to be filled with happiness. Things in life are always changing, and sometimes those changes make us unhappy. Things like parents divorcing, a loved one dying or moving far away, job losses, fights with friends, etc, can cause a wide range of emotions, not the lease of which is sadness and anger. So, how do we deal with these emotions in a positive way? We can’t stop sadness or anger from happening. They are a part of life. Then there is the problem of negative feelings multiplying in us when we think on them too much.
One possible solution to this problem goes along with one of my favorite Bible verses which I believe is best said in the Message version of the Bible. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8-9. God’s most excellent harmonies is just where I want to be. So if we think about the things mentioned in these verses, then we are basically thinking of the good things and not the bad, so…something to smile about. I like that idea.
Now, I have never been a person who liked being told to “Smile!!!” It always annoyed me because I wasn’t sad or mad, just not smiling, but maybe I was having a negative effect on others. Also something to think about. So, I am going to start looking around me and thinking on good things so that I will have something to smile about, and I believe I will feel better because of it.
There is so much negativity in our world today. Our children rage over everything. The internet is filled kids and adults cussing each other out on the pages of Facebook, My Space, Twitter and more. The fights are very public and very ugly. And after the original post, come all the comments, some in full cuss mode agreement, while others chew out the person who said such awful stuff in the first place, and then those who try to console the poor abused one. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I know that the life of a teenager and very often adults, can be hard, but is the internet the proper place to vent our anger, and the reality of it is that anger and bitterness just breeds more anger and bitterness.
When we decide to have a “pity party” the goal is to get a lot of people into it and thereby make ourselves feel better, because we know that so many people care about us, but it’s funny how after the party is over, we just go back to feeling bad and because we haven’t tried to be happy in life, we can easily end up being a bitter, hateful, lonely person.
Being angry and raging at the culprit doesn’t succeed in making us feel better, no matter how much we would like it too. When we are angry, we sit an brood over the problem, and continue to get angrier and angrier. And yet we continue to think that getting it all out will somehow help. All we are doing is planting a seed of bitterness by raging in the first place, and watering that seed by brooding over the problem.
We all make mistakes, and quite possibly if we try to be understanding of other people’s shortcomings, they would return the favor. Happiness is contagious, as is kindness, understanding, forgiveness and patience. We should all pass it on.
There comes a point in every Winter, when I begin to feel the promise of the coming Spring. Now, you might say, “Well sure, we all do.” For me, however, it is for a different reason than most that I long for Spring. I have SAD, which is Seasonal Affective Disorder, and while this is not a fatal or even really a debilitating disorder, its effects on me are very real. During the Winter months as the days get shorter, the fact that we get up when it is dark and get off work when it is dark, makes me feel very tired. Then, one day in January, I step outside the door after work, and it just occurs to me that I’m not leaving work in the dark, or even almost dark. It is like a weight is lifted off of me.
I have a fairly mild form of SAD. Some people can hardly function during the darker months. For me it is just a matter of feeling tired and well, dragged out, but no matter how badly a person is affected, it makes the winter dark months difficult to say the very least. Then add to it the Wyoming Winter wind and cold, and I start feeling antsy, on top of feeling fatigued.
There are some things that have helped people who suffer from SAD. Light therapy is a good solution. The best lighting is full spectrim light bulbs, because it mimicks actual sunlight. A lot of people who live in Alaska can have a severe form of SAD, and light therapy was tested on those people with good results. I have tried light therapy and it has helped, but it is difficult to spend enough time in proper lighting when you work. So I wait and look forward to the day in January that brings with it the promise of the coming Spring. Knowing that soon I will feel better again.
Stress…a dirty word in every day life, and a very real health concern for many people today. Our lives are so busy, and often we don’t have any real control over our day or what happens in it. So how do we avoid stress?
One way to avoid stress to do work as it comes along as much as possible. Procrastination brings stress, because at some point you run out of time and that usually happens with many projects at the same time. When you have people calling to see if their project is finished, your blood pressure starts to rise. Before you know it you have a headache and a neck ache. Doing the job as soon as it is given whenever possible eliminates this problem, and gives you more time to do it correctly, since most mistakes are made when we rush through things.
Another way to avoid stress is to watch what you volunteer for. All too often we over-extend ourselves because we hate to say, “No.” There is nothing wrong with volunteering, but you can’t be 10 places at once. Pick your volunteer work carefully, whether it is for a charity or family. Having your priorities straight will lower your stress levels.
Exercise is a very important stress reducer. You don’t have to join a gym or do calisthenics either. Go for a walk, especially if you can get outside. Just getting closer to nature has a way of bring peace to your mind, and that is definately a stress reducer. Not everyone likes the same type of exercise, and if you haven’t exercised in a long time, I recommend that you try several different types, start slowly, and of course, check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise. I find that exercise is a great stress reducer and a great way to look better too.
And the final stress reducer I’m going to talk about is getting enough sleep. When you are tired, your mind can’t cope with everyday obligations as well. Adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily to look and feel their best, so make sure you get your daily zzz’s.
And there you have it. My best stress reducers for the person living in today’s busy world. I hope this new year is a great one for all of you.