Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ebb and Flow......

Finding balance in our lives, as the seasons change.
Our leaves are turning, bright oranges, reds, and gold.

Bright yellow mums liven up my fall garden.

And lavender ones for calmness.

I am feeling more balanced in my life now.
Hubby is feeling well. There are no new symptoms to worry about.
My blogger friends have given me good advice.....
It is a mind-set that's beginning to work.....
Bringing me more peace, less worry, less frustration...
And I think Hubby is feeling this new peaceful me.
Healing us both.

UPDATE: It's Blooming Tuesday at Jean's blog. A day to show what's blooming in our gardens.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Sure Sign of Autumn

Summer's gone.
I've packed away my summer shorts and tank tops.
Kicked off comfy sandals and let them lie at the bottom of the closet.
Abandoned my flip-flops.
I dig out long pants and warm sweaters to wear for my morning walks.
Thick socks and running shoes feel better on cool mornings.

And so, while rummaging in the back of my clothes closet, I came across what I thought was an empty shoe box. Peeked inside to find:

Sparkly, jewelled, golden and glitzy summer sandals!

It was 2 summers ago, when shopping with my daughter, that I purchased these on a whim. A moment of madness.
Well - why not? She was buying pretty, young, totally impractical sandals, so why couldn't I? Just because I'm not young any more, doesn't mean I can't spend my money on silly, fun shoes. Right?

I remember bringing them home. Hubby took one look at them and said "The soles are too flat and hard, won't they hurt your feet?"
But like a star-struck teenager I had overlooked that most important part of the footwear and went for the jewels! Gold straps that laced halfway up my legs! What fun! I could pretend I looked like an Egyptian princess (o.k. queen....mother). Never mind that I don't have pretty legs. Who cares?

So I wore the sandals that first summer. And they hurt my feet. Hmmmm.
And the next summer after suffering with a bout of plantar fasciitis, I thought my practical self had given them away.
I guess not! So here they are to taunt me once again. Summer's over and here we are!

Note to Carin: Since you have volunteered to remind me to put away my garden hose before winter, perhaps I can ask you to remind me to dig out these sparkly sandals next summer - so they don't spend another year tucked away in my closet. LOL!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Equinox

Summer is over. It's officially Autumn.
Today is the autumn equinox, where day and night are equal.
12 hours daylight and 12 hours darkness.
A celebration of harvest, balance and peace.

Time to enjoy the harvest.
Time to look at the balance in our own lives.
And find peace in our hearts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I've struck gold...

....in Bloggerville. I wasn't sure quite what to expect when I last posted. I am pleased to say that your gentle comfort and sincere support has me completely overwhelmed!

Thank you all so very much.
I am blessed to have such wonderful friends.

As I was writing that last post, fingers of guilt poked me in the ribs.
Why are you whining again?
How can you possibly complain when Hubby's needs are much greater than yours?
Stop your complaining and smarten up.

Maybe a teacher's voice, or my parents. I don't know.

But MY "voice" (once I posted it) was met with comfort, kindness and support.

I half expected a scolding. Nobody told me to stop the pity party. Nobody tried to point out how fortunate I am just to be out of the hurricane zone.

I knew I had to write how I was feeling. And take a chance. Take a risk that people would stop reading my blog. Or think me awful.
For every "guilt" finger poked in my side, another voice spoke up..

"You have the right to feel your feelings - whether judged good or bad, you have that right. After you've acknowledged them, then you can deal with them - or the situation."

So, I listened to that voice and published my Somewhat Cocoon.
Feel my feelings. Validate them. Then figure out what to do.

Whether it was my "putting myself out there", or your sensitive and soothing comments, or the healing Prayer that Bear Naked sent, I slept better these last 2 nights than I have in a long time.

And with a better night's sleep, my level of energy improved and with that my overall mood. I felt lighter. A little happiness crept into my being.

Ahhhh - well, I'll just pick myself up, dust myself off and begin to pull myself out of the bottom of that pit. And you know what?.... a funny thing happened... that simmering resentment just melted away.
Whether or not it comes back, doesn't matter right now. I'll deal with it another day.

And with that resentment out of the way, a little space was created to enjoy the mundane, the routine of our days I usually find so boring.

On deeper reflection, I became aware of a pattern to my relationships with men. Why do I choose men whose needs are greater, more important than mine?

Hubby #1 always told me his needs were greater. They weren't. But I gave in to him all the time. After 20 years I got fed up and finally, finally left.

Serious boyfriend (sounds weird at my age - I met him when I was 40) helped me over the guilt I was feeling over destroying my first marriage. After a while, however, it seemed like he also, had "important business needs" which always came first, keeping me waiting at home for his calls. After 2 years I decided I'd had enough. I left.

Then along came this Hubby. Hubby #2 - the Right One. Instant magic. Happiness, true caring, honesty, respect, mutual support and love. This marriage was everything I'd dreamed it would be.

Then, just like in a novel, everything came crashing down. Hubby's energy level was visibly waning. He couldn't keep up with me on bike rides or walks anymore. He had to take naps in the daytime. Something was very wrong.

As you all know, COPD was diagnosed 6 years ago and Hubby was instantly tethered to an in-home oxygen system.

Now his needs really are greater than mine. His issues are life-and-death. I can't (nor do I want to) walk away this time. I will stay in this situation until the end.

Ah, but what's the lesson here? I will need to think about this some more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In My Somewhat Cocoon

I feel like I am living in a cocoon.

In his illness, Hubby has drawn a cocoon around himself.

I need to remain near him; easing his burden; helping him stay alive. Feeding his energy, as mine ebbs.

And so I am forced to live in a cocoon as well.

Well, maybe not quite. I can push open the back door and rush out to snatch laundry off the clothesline before it rains. Or fling open the front door, hop onto my bike and chase after the full moon, if I want.

Hubby can't. He would sit by the window and watch.....

I can jump in the car and go shopping, fill up on gas (not that anybody looks forward to that - at these prices), check out new books at the library, visit the garden center.

Hubby can't. He sits at home and waits for me to return.....

My daughter calls: "Mom can you come and babysit today and tomorrow?"

"I'd love to, but I can't do both. How about tomorrow?" My daughter understands.

Hubby stays home. He rarely sees his grandchild. His Elder Son comes here to visit.......once in a while..... and only if he doesn't have a cold.

Then why do I feel as if I'm in a cocoon? I can come and go as I please.
Well, not really. My "freedom" is limited.

Then I must be living somewhat in a cocoon. Partially in a cocoon. With little cat doors or windows, where I can crawl out from time to time....to nourish my spirit.

While my body "rests" in my Somewhat Cocoon, my mind is working furiously:

Why am I so cut off from social life? I can't work. I can't travel. I can't pick up and go whenever I want. Every visit to the library, to my grandchildren, to grocery shop must be planned around Hubby's needs. I can't stay away overnight.

What is this supposed to be teaching me?
Where is my learning, my growth in this experience?
It is said "When one door closes another opens".
Which door is that and where is it?

It looks as though Life has given me a gift. A bit of a "time out" from the flow of normal outside activities.
Time for what? Inner growth?
Is that what happens inside a cocoon?

Should I be rejoicing? Well I'm not. I'm like a child who was not invited to the party....... I stick my nose against the windowpane and look longingly at the rest of the world, that merrily goes on without me.

Will I look back on this time and say "I was handed a golden opportunity - the time to develop my inner self. Why didn't I publish my book, write another one, create an on-line business, learn some crafts, languages, and anything else that took my fancy?"

Will I look back on this time and remember only the good parts? Will I feel blessed with the strength of our love that kept us going.

All my lessons of ......
Focus on what you have - not what you don't have.
If you can't change your situation, change your attitude (or energy).
Life is not waiting for the storm to pass; it's learning to dance in the rain.
.......are not working today.

I long for the day when I can fly free. Shake out my glistening butterfly wings and...... go. Escape to a sunny tropical beach; lie on the sand and listen...... to the rhythmic song of the waves, as they soothe my weary soul.

But that day will also be laced with grief; saturated with tears and pain. Hubby will be gone.

So I sit in my Somewhat Cocoon today.......

Waiting for the Storm to Pass instead of...... Learning to Dance in the Rain.

Monday, September 15, 2008

After the Rain

Can you see the spider web?
It's intricate pattern delicately woven through the leaves, catching a moment's light between rain clouds.

Ah yes - I never tire of photographing my favourite hibiscus......can you see how gentle rainwater has collected deep inside the flower? Like a cup of nectar waiting to nourish a thirsty hummer, or curious bee.

We've been lucky. Steady drumming rains, gentle winds of change, no damage - just softness in our gardens and lawns.
Others have not been so fortunate.
Love and Light for those suffering from Ike's storm.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Life Cycles

Summer is winding down. A flower on my pink hibiscus droops.....
as does Hubby.

Summer was not kind to Hubby. Too much humidity. Too much rain.
Made for difficult breathing, sapping his strength.

We did go out in the car - briefly. A 20-minute ride to our favourite coffee spot; through the drive-thru and back home again - take-out coffee cups in our hands.
20 minutes - all he could handle.
But, at least he got out. A change of scenery from our back deck.
As the weather cools down and turns downright cold, outings will be a memory once again.

Towards the end of August, we had some unexpected good weather. Warm temps, low humidity and Hubby looked happy once more.

But with every "up", there will inevitably be a "down".
And with every "down", we will hopefully have brighter days to look forward to.

So, we make the best of it. When he spends most of the day sleeping, I don't freak out anymore. I know his tired body just needs extra rest. Perhaps it's the coffee outing..... or bath day...... or digestion is taking it's toll. (I made him french toast the other day - his favourite; but it sat like a lead balloon in his stomach all morning, forcing him to rest in his chair).

Little things like that creep up on us. Yesterday he could eat french toast, oatmeal, fried eggs. Today, he can't. Yesterday (it seems) he could drive the car, rake leaves, enjoy a glass of wine. Today - those pleasures are long gone.

You can see how fragile he is. Nothing new..... I've said it before, but it still amazes me how he can function day after day with so little strength, so little lung capacity.
And yet on good days, when his eyes light up with a smile, I can see his spirit; I can see the old Hubby...... before COPD.

And so.......Life goes on.....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9-11-2001

Remembering 9-11-2001
A very sad time.
They say it changed the nation - I think it changed the world.

Where were you?

Hubby and I were vacationing in Ogunquit, Maine. The weather was perfect for our short holiday.

I stood high up on the rocky pathway; watching the power of the ocean.
Waves surged forward in a rush, only to smash to the shore.
I love the ocean. It relaxes me.......lulls me.
I felt at peace. Turned to hubby and asked if he was ready to go for a swim.
He was, and so we went back to the car to collect our things - blanket, cooler, sunscreen.

We slammed the trunk and were just heading down the footpath towards the beach area when a woman approached me.
"Did you hear?"
My head must have been in rhythm with the waves, for I thought she was talking about the weather.

"Very nice". I smiled.

She gave me a strange look.

"The Twin Towers." she almost yelled at me.

"What?" I was really confused now. I looked for Hubby, but he was already down by the water, spreading our blanket over the sand.

Then she told me.

Later that evening my daughter called our hotel room. She was worried that we may not be able to come home, since the Canadian/American borders had been closed.

I rather hoped we would be forced to extend our vacation!

That didn't happen. Fortunately, for us - all's well that ends well.
Others were not so fortunate.
What about you - do you remember where you were?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Autumn is in the Air

A time for changes.... a time for transitions.

The warmth of summer nights has given way to cooler September air.
Our sun's shining warmth is waning........glowing red in the western sky each evening, like embers from a fireplace. Then dropping out of sight, as dusk creeps up on us....... earlier and earlier.

Change is in the air.
My blog has changed.
I have not posted about Hubby for a while.
This is "supposed" to be a blog about Caregiving.
But it has changed, as I have.

I have learned - so much! So much from my blogging friends......as I "listen" to each point of view, each perspective........ rejoicing in your happiness; shedding tears for your pain .........all part of the human growth experience.

I can't wait to peek into the lives and gardens of my blogger friends. Can't wait to post pics of my grandkids or my garden.
And yet there are days when I don't want to go near the computer. Enough! My neck is sore from hunching over my laptop. My fingers are cramped from writing. My back is sore - well, it's always sore...

And how am I going to live "real" life, if I'm always at the computer? Computer life is not real life.
But the friends I've made are real.

How would I ever explain that to my mother, for instance, who never even used a computer. How would I explain that I've made bonds, friendship bonds with people I've never met?

I am listening......... to changes in the air from some of my blogger friends. I can "hear" that their priorities are changing. Their lives are changing.........transitioning........... as we are with the seasons.

I am learning the value in Letting go.
Letting go of reading some excellent blogs. There just isn't time.

Letting go of really good posts. In the beginning I would write a good post and then worry about it getting lost in the archives.
Where will it go now? Who will read it?
I am learning that I can build on those "good posts".
I will create more. I will evolve. And I will learn from those "not so good posts" too.

Letting go of the seasons.
I find it hard to let go of summer. ......warm, golden, sunny days....flowers bursting with colour.......flip-flops and shorts......BBQ's and swimming pools.... riding my bike. And yet, I've "listened" to other bloggers welcome the autumn with enthusiasm.
Once upon a time, many years ago as a child - I too welcomed autumn and even winter with it's promise of Christmas and snowflakes; building snowmen and sliding down snowy slopes.

I thank you my blogger friends for giving me these gifts; you've taught me to look upon the inevitable pathway to autumn with joy - not dread.

And so whether or not I blog about Caregiving or gardening or poetry or the weather or grandkids or seasons, it really doesn't matter. I've changed.

And Hubby has changed. He's better than he was all summer, but not as strong as he was earlier this year.
We 've had to face another one of those dreaded "steps down" ......which will be my post for next time.
Goodnight, dear bloggers - until the next post.....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Feeding the Ducks

Hey duckies - may I swim with you too?

Come here duckies ... I've got some bread for you..

Ducks are all gone. Maybe I should eat the rest of their bread!

Ahhhh - grandmothering is so satisfying.....

Monday, September 1, 2008

September 1st

A flock of geese startled me on my walk this morning (no, I didn't bring my camera, so this pic is one I "googled").

It's Labour Day and the official end of summer activities. Swimming pools and public beaches close because the life-guards have to go back to school.
Or because the children have to go back to school.

It seems to me it's too early to close up. Summer's not finished yet.
We have another 3 weeks to go until September 22, when fall officially arrives.

And this weekend has been glorious! We're still in summer mode: lots of sun, warm temps, blue skies, shorts, T-shirts and flipflops.

As I bask in our late summer weather, enjoying a pina colada on my back deck (o.k. a cup of iced tea, but that sounded boring), fall seems light-years away. My dahlias and hibiscus are still in full bloom, not ready to "retire" yet.

However, on my walk this morning, I heard the unmistakable honking of a flock of geese.
Canada geese! Already?

Hey - it's way too early for them to leave just yet. It's only the First day of September!
Would somebody please tell them to turn around and go back.
I'm not ready to say good-by to our geese.
I'm much happier to welcome them back in the spring.

A bold blue jay alights on the hedge nearby, staring at me with his beady eye, an acorn in his beak. Chipmunks hustle and bustle around the yard, gathering nuts; while saucy squirrels throw acorns down on us from high up in the trees.