FOR GREGORY

Periodically I will add posts here if the sources provide additioanl informaiton on how to think about and deal with Dementia/ Alzheimer's Disease.

PLEASE NOTE:


SCROLL DOWN FOR TEXT and BIBLIOGRAPHY from DAI WEBINAR 2/22-23/2017. You can also find this information on my website: www.horvich.com


Even though this blog is now dormant (see info below) there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. My guess is that you could spend a lot of time here and maybe learn or experience a thing or two about living with and loving someone with Dementia/Alzheimer's or maybe come away with the feeling that "you are not alone" in YOUR work with the same!


• • • • •


THIS WAS THE FINAL POST TO THIS SITE BEFORE IT WENT DORMANT.


Happy New Year 2016. With a new year comes new beginnings and sometimes endings. If I am personally progressing and if I am doing a good job in my grieving Gregory's death; if I have been able to learn my lessons in living and loving someone diagnosed with Dementia/ Alzheimer's; if I am to get on with my life ... I need to bring this Alzheimer's blog to an end since my writing has been dealing less with Dementia/ Alzheimer's and more with life after Dementia/ Alzheimer's.


Of course, I will always continue to work for and support fair treatment on behalf of people with Dementia/ Alzheimer's and may post here from time to time. Also, there are many wonderful posts here through which you may browse.


With this change, I will continue and reinvigorate my "michael a. horvich writes" blog which deals with grieving Gregory's death, life lessons, personal experiences, observations, memoirs, dreams, and humor in essay and poetry, as well as an attempt now and then at sharing a piece of fiction.


Please follow me there by clicking http://mhorvich.blogspot.com or click the link located on the right side of this page.


Finally, COMMENTS are always important to me and you can still comment on the posts on this blog! CLICK "Comments" and sign in or use "Anonymous." Leave your name or initials if you wish so I'll know it's you? Check the "Notify Me" box to see my reply to you.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meditation: Round 2: Practice 4 & 5

Just to keep track, I skipped Practice 4 because I was ill.

Practice 5 presented an interesting shift for me in several ways.

1) Previously, a day or two before our meeting, I would think about possible Intentions and Heartfelt Desires. This time, I decided to wait and see what "arrived" as I was settling in and getting into the meditation.

2) Another thing that I am more aware of is a "spiraling" of lessons with each new appearance bringing a deeper, more coherent understanding of the idea, emotion, experience, etc that presents itself.

3) During the period of my deepest calm, I became aware of what I would describe as Black (visually) but more An Absence (emotionally & intellectually.) Things would come and go without disrupting my meditation.

At one point a man showed up, I acknowledged him and continued my meditation without needing to know who he was, or what he wanted, or what he represented.

Another time a beautiful, sweet, pink fondant ribbon swirled in my Black, maybe because it was also my birthday and I was thinking of cake but it didn't matter I continued my meditation.

4) At times one needs to pause and enter the moment as it presents itself for lessons to be learned, but other options include setting it aside to deal with at a later time, or deciding that it is not important to deal with the distraction at all and recognizing it for what it is: a distraction.

During Practice 5 Corinne decided to spend a lot of time focusing on the body, energy, and health. While I did "scan" my body and reaffirm my excellent health, I did not end up staying with Corinne's guidance but rather revisited the concept of Essential Self which Corinne had mentioned in her opening comments.

She talked about the difficulty some people have in looking closely at their Essential Self, that self which is closer to being in touch with the universe and away from one's experiences, societal agreements, religious figure and parent pronouncements. In other words free from any biases, real or imagined, true or not, that tend to color who we are, what we think, and how we approach our day to day lives. Our PURE ESSENCE.

In the past I have had trouble focusing on my Essential Self, knowing it exists deep within me but somehow not being able or comfortable enough to dig down for a close look. In relation to the Essential Self, this time I revisited a Triumvirate of Self that I have been aware of, fine tuned it, and added the Essential Self as a fourth level.

I started out with my Public Self which I allow everyone to see, my Private Self which I only allow close loved ones to see, and my Secret Self which only I know about and which I would never share with anyone.

This understanding allowed me to arrive at the fourth self or Essential Self, as defined above. It was easier to look at my Essential Self without fear or difficulty when seeing it on this Continuum of Self from most external and visible to most internal and sacred.

Each time I experience a Mindful Meditation Practice, Yoga Nidra, I seem to arrive at a new place of comfort with myself, my relationship with Gregory, and with my world. Time well spent.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

One of our favorite Edith Piaf songs is Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien. The other day, I was talking to myself during a moment of mindfulness and I said, " When Gregory dies, I do not want to regret not having done my best for him." Let that be my mantra and the measure of the rest of our days together.

Click here to see her perform the song.
Opens in a new window.

No, nothing of nothing

No! I don't feel sorry about anything
Not the good things people have done to me
Not the bad things, it's all the same to me.

No, nothing of nothing
No! I don't feel sorry about anything
It's paid for, removed, forgotten,
I'm happy of the past

With my memories
I lit up the fire
My troubles, my pleasures
I don't need them anymore

Broomed away my love stories
And all their tremble
Broomed away for always
I start again from zero

Non ! Je ne regrette rien
Ni le mal, tout ça m'est bien égal !
Non ! Je ne regrette rien
Because my life, my joys
Today, they begin with you.

March 27, 1945

Happy Birthday Michael

Michael at just a few months with Dad Lou and Mom Adeline
March 27, 1945


Michael - 68 Years Old
March 27, 2013

Mom began her next journey on the day I was born.
A Blessing on March 27 2010

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Three Times

This piece is useful to remind me that I can forgive myself because my poor behavior, decision, action etc is already dead. Move on. Live a better life here and now.

It is essential to see that we live our lives most of the time in the three times; that's to say, the past, the present, and the future. Why do I suffer now? It's because of something in the past. What about what should I do in the future. Well, I should plan to do something in the future. The odd fact is that the past actually is dead. There are memories of it, but everything in the past is actually gone, and every thing in the future has not yet arisen. There's only one place where you can actually be,  and that is now. This needs thinking about, because it's very easy to say that's a lot of nonsense - of course there's past, present, and future. But actually, the only place where there is something, is-ness, is only now. How could be there be anything else? Anything else is was-ness or will-be-ness. Is-ness is only now. And you, therefore, can only be now. You cannot be in the past. That's dead. You cannot be in the future. It hasn't come. You can only be now.

From Tricyle, The Buddhist Review. Spring 2013. P 14.
"The Three Times"
By: John Crook





Monday, March 25, 2013

Inevitable vs Optional

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." ~Unknown

Enlightenment

If you speak of "achieving enlightenment, "you may think that you don't usually have enlightenment. If you say, "Enlightenment comes," you may wonder where it comes from. If you say, "I have become enlightened," you may suppose that enlightenment has a beginning."

From Tricyle, The Buddhist Review. Spring 2013. P 14.
"Tea and Rice" By Zen Master Dogen

I add so better to know that you are already enlightened, it comes from within, and it is an ongoing learning that never stops ... or better yet ... just don't talk about enlightenment, live it.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Bud


The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing...

Galway Kinnell
"Saint Francis and the Sow"
Seen in Grace (Eventually:) thoughts on Faith
By Anne Lamott

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Soul


"Dust to dust!" he enthused. I smiled, rather grimly, and reminded myself to breathe slowly. If you want to feel loving, I coached myself, do something loving. This is basic soul care.

I don't even know what that means - Soul. Traditionally it is believed to be the component of ourselves that survives physical death; a reflection of the Holy, make up of light and breath and silence and love, of everything ancient and of babies about to be born. C.S. Lewis said, "You don't have a soul. You are a should. You have a body." If this is right, we have a purpose, which is to shine, like the moon shining in the sky; or to paraphrase the old bumper sticker: Think globally, shine locally.


Seen in
Grace (Eventually:) thoughts on Faith
By Anne Lamott


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

There Is No Place Like Home Auntie Em

I have often considered "next steps" for Gregory and me but he is not yet ready nor am I. As long as I am physically able to do a good job of supporting him and emotionally together enough to continue supporting myself, I will do what I have to. There are many steps and outside support available before needing to move him to a home, I will not hesitate when it is time, and I will know when that time arrives. Meanwhile his home is here with me in the home our love for each other has created over the last 35+ years.

What is Your Name Follow Up

After we were both cleaned up for bed, and I was sitting here writing about Gregory's not knowing my name, he crawled into our unmade bed and covered his head with the blanket.

I sat down beside him and asked, "How are you doing?"

"Not well."

"Why?"

"I don't know."

"So you didn't remember that you have Alzheimer's?"

"Yes, I do."

"It must have been hard realizing that you didn't know my name."

"Yes it was. Your name is Michael."

"And yours?"

"Greg."

"So that is all over for now. You know I love you very much. And I know you love me very much. And I AM HERE FOR YOU."

He cried. I hugged. We kissed. We laughed.

Another Happy Ending.

To Be Kept in Love

This is why I try to hard not to be mean or get upset with Gregory! I don't always succeed. It is so important to me and to him that he be kept in LOVE no matter how much of him disappears.


Hope & Fear

Besides good advice, I have highlighted why I so like Ms. Chödrön's advice.

March 20, 2013

WE CAN’T JUST JUMP OVER OURSELVES

Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.

Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, 
we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do. We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises. 

From:



What is Your Name?

Don't read this if you get easily depressed, because I know that after tonight's episode, I am depressed enough for an entire city. Maybe he is loosing more functioning because he is still ill. I do not know what to think.

He was in the bathroom on the toilet. He moved his bowels and wiped himself. I asked about the toilet paper still in his hand and he didn't know what to do with it. I had him stand up so I could see his progress. He had done some wiping after all. He sat back down.

"Throw the paper in your hand into the toilet." He did not know what to do. He looked at the garbage pail next to the toilet and pointed at that. "No," I said, "In the toilet." He continued to look confused. I asked him to stand up again and said, "You throw the shit paper in there." "Oh," he replied.

I explained the process to him again and you would have thought I was speaking in a foreign language. "So it looks like you do not know how to use the toilet anymore, I will have to help you."

He got upset with me and was able to say, "Can't ... you ... just ... tell ... me?"

"Yes," I answered, "but when I tell you you don't understand." He didn't understand. We went through the three or four times. Tell me. But you don't understand. Tell. Understand. Tell? Understand?

Previously we have attributed his problems to Alzheimer's and he is usually the first to tell you he has it. I said, "This is what Alzheimer's is all about isn't it! You know that don't you?"

"No! I have Alzheimer's?" He was incredulous as if he or I had never said or heard this before.

"Yes you do," I answered, "we have talked about this before." So I braved it and asked something I have wanted to ask for a while, "What is my name?" No reply. "Do you know my name?" He stood there silently for quite a while with a look of dread on his face.

Finally he said sadly, "No I don't."

"Michael. Do you know your name?"

He fumbled for words, thought, and finally answered, "I don't have one."

"Your name is Gregory." A light somewhere deep inside seemed to go on, or was I just imagining it.

"Why don't you get ready for bed now" and we had to work through what that meant.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One Word at a Time

My vow of silence lasted one and one half days. It was terminated sooner than I had hoped but did serve the purpose of calming me down. Also, as Gregory regained his health, his daily functioning improved somewhat. Another lesson learned for the future.

Then I got the same flu he had (not a bad) and was forced to take care of myself a little more than taking care of him. I did get him to sit on the toilet every two hours (with success) and prepared his meals. I was forced to "calm down" even more by my being ill.

After the first day of silence, I decided that perhaps a next step would be ONE WORD AT A TIME. Since complex directions, statements, or questions confuse him, maybe one word communications would help. It didn't.

As he was leaving the bathroom and I was in bed not feeling well, I said, "Light." meaning please turn off the bathroom light. He was not able to connect the word "Light" with the room he was in. So I added, "Bathroom." Still no connection. Led to "Bathroom light." Still no connection with asking him to turn off the light as he was leaving the bathroom. So I finally gave up on the "One Word" concept and asked, "Please turn off the bathroom light?" He did.

The one word thing about Alzheimer's? "Insidious" and it always wins no matter how closely you follow or create the rules!

Monday, March 18, 2013

An Apology

I apologize for being impatient.
I apologize for loosing my temper.
I apologize for raging at you.
I apologize for being violent with you.
(Read less than kind. Read abrupt.)
I apologize for saying unkind things.
I apologize for being mean.

I love you, never doubt that.
And I know that you love me.
I just don't love myself right now.

I took a vow of silence yesterday and for a day or two. This may seem like being melodramatic but if I am going to cope with Gregory's continued decline, especially his current digestive illness, I need to get a grip on myself and be the kind, loving, gentle caregiver partner that I know I am.

I used the above apology and explained that I would be here for him, to help him, to love him, but that I was going to take a vow of silence because that would prevent me from getting upset and therefore upsetting him.

If I can't show or demonstrate it, I will do what he needs done. This will help me avoid having to use words. I will not need to apologize for the above listed reactions that I have been working at controlling.

Just now he brought me his glass of water, ready to take his pills. "Is this enough?" he asked referring to how much water was in the glass. Bringing him with me, I took the glass into the kitchen, filled it with more water, said not a word. He headed back to the bedroom. I tapped him, gestured at the now full glass of water and he got the picture. Success. This time.

With my vow of silence, I have been more aware of talking to myself in my head. Perhaps this will lessen the time between the triggering of an emotion and my reaction.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm not ...


Scatology Part 2

Just when I have gotten over the previous dilemma, disappointment, impasse, lack of communication, misunderstanding, inability to discuss therefore solve or explain ... the SHIT hits the fan again.

Every hour on the hour I have been sending Gregory to sit on the toilet just in case he might need to move his bowels. I have tried to let him be more independent by not supervising. I go in after while, ask him to stand up, so I can check his progress. So far two small liquid movements. Several times nothing and that is good. NO accidents and that is even better.

I have stopped supervising his "wiping" having decided that if he is not as clean as he should be, so be it. We'll shower again tonight.

He just finished his 3:00 attempt in the bathroom. I came in several minutes later to see how he had done. Luckily he had not done anything because he forgot to pull down his underpants. There he was sitting on the toilet, folded toilet paper in hand at the ready, with his underpants full up.

I began to point out the problem but from the look on his face I could tell I was WASTING my breath talking about the situation. So I am writing this instead.

Again, not for your sympathy or your feeling like you want to help but can't.  I am writing this because my BLOG is SOMEONE I can talk to and get some closure and do the theoretical count to ten to calm myself down.

1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ... 7 ... ... ... ... ...

WARNING: Explicit Scatology

Dear J,

Thanks for your thoughts. Things have been so hectic that I haven't even had five minutes alone in which to sit down for our phone chat. Friday night G had some kind of virus (don't think it was food poisoning) had the runs and has given me quite a run since.

Shit himself, shit the bed all night. Luckily I had a package of hospital type bed squares with absorbent on one side and plastic on the other.

Slept most of Saturday in between me having having to clean him up. After some toast, tea, and yogurt he shit on both of us as he stood in the middle of the kitchen saying, "Oh oh, Oh oh." I didn't know where to start to clean up the mess.

I have started having him sit on the pot every hour on the hour. Have caught most of the accidents. His ass is so raw that it hurts to look at and I am applying medicated cream.

Woke him up through the night and again caught most of the accidents. But toilet paper skills were sadly lacking and that paired with communication deficiencies made it an almost impossible situation.

Today is Sunday and he is still messing his pants. We will have another binding banana and oatmeal for breakfast and see what the day brings.

All this with the inability to wipe his own ass let alone communicate his needs or understand my questions. So like a baby flailing in its poop, that is what I am dealing with.

When he is sitting in one place he still looks and feels like Gregory. But at least with this weekend's illness, none of the Gregory I know is here with me.

I know your comment "You are not alone." means you empathize with me and wish you were here to support me but guess what, I am alone. And numb. Beware the IDES of MARCH.

And Emma decided to throw up twice. At least she did it in the middle of the bathroom tile so the grout is safe as is the bedroom rug. A bit of humor.

Michael

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Meditation: Round 2: Practice 3

For this practice (which is what we call the meditation session) there were only two of us with Corinne. The other person and I have been with Corinne previously so she decided, with our permission, to take a different approach. You know the "stress" I am under and the other person had just experienced a health emergency. She had to go through that ordeal herself and mentioned that the use of her Yoga Nidra techniques helped her through the ordeal.

In this practice, we decided to look more closely at emotions in addition to working our way through all 14 steps of the practice (you've seen the diagram previously.) During the Emotions part you observe emotions that are present (now that you are in a comfortable, relaxed state,) inquire about what these emotions are telling you, concentrate on the emotion and then on its opposite. The purpose of looking at an emotion from both sides is that emotions are in flux and one is on a continuum between the positive of the emotion and the negative of the emotion. Often during a practice, you notice the emotion and know that you do not have to deal with it right then. But you must acknowledge it and deal with it later if you do not want it to increase in intensity. This time we were going to concentrate on the emotions.

The emotion that came to me, again, was JOY. Its opposite, SORROW. If you have been following these Yoga BLOGs you will know that this seems to be a recurring theme for me.

When Corinne asked us to look at our Essential Self (that which we are in relation to the universe) vs our Essential Nature (that which we have become based on experiences, expectations, relations to others and society) in relation to this continuum of emotion I felt blocked. My life most of the time is so wrapped up with trying to be the best me I can be to support Gregory, and my guilt at falling short of my expectations for myself that for some reason when trying to look through the vail I am unable to see "the real me."

Then this visualization and verbiage came to me. Yes JOY is all around me (picture me in the center of embracing hands with the hands being JOY, my essential self is in the center of these hands but without Gregory as part of my life, I cannot see through to my essential self. It is as if our souls, our spirits are so closely joined that I cannot tell one apart from the other. It feels, as Gregory continues to disintegrate day by day, that my soul is being CLEAVED in two. Split. Torn. Cleaved as in cleaver.

Corinne proposed a series of images in which we could weigh the emotions we choose and each one was diminished in light of not being able to appreciate them with Gregory: a spring day, a child's toy, a beautiful flower, etc I was so sad and knew that I could return to my Inner Resource (Forest) for protection but I chose to stay with the difficulty of looking at the joy/sorrow emotion.

So most of the time, while I know JOY exists and I do see and celebrate it, I am mostly wrapped up in SORROW and the suffering it brings. Soon after we slowly came back to the witnessing of the experience/practice and slowly returned to the waking state at the end of the practice. As I took the eye cover off, tears streamed out of my eyes and down my face. I was not crying on the outside but my emotions inside had caused the flood. It was a strange feeling. It was as if my eyes were crying but I wasn't.

Am still analyzing the experience but it probably seems obvious that my love for Gregory, our 35+ years together in such a strong, respectful, supportive relationship has united our spirits so strongly into one unique spirit that with the Alzheimer's Journey which we are currently on, and the insidious nature of the disease, the untying of those spirits is no easy task and extremely painful. Yes, JOY but also SORROW.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Letting Go

When I run across something that speaks to me, I like to share it here on my Alzheimer's BLOG. Maybe it will speak to you, maybe not.

From: http://www.dailyom.com
March 7, 2013
Letting Go of Understanding
Deeper Meaningsby Madisyn Taylor

We don't always need to know the deeper meaning of everything that happens in our lives.

All of us who seek to be conscious and aware regard our experiences as teachers, and we try to discern what lessons we are learning from the things that happen in our lives. Sometimes the lesson is very clear from the get-go, and other times we have to really search to understand the deeper meaning behind some event. While this search often yields results, there also comes a point in the search where what we really need to do is move forward. It is possible that we are not meant to know the deeper meaning of certain occurrences. Answers may come later in our lives, or they may come as a result of letting go, or they may never come.

We are all part of a complex system of being, and things work themselves out in the system as a whole. Sometimes we are just playing a necessary part in that process with a result larger than we can understand. It may have very little to do with us personally, and while that can be hard to understand, it can also free us from overthinking the matter. Sometimes it is best to see it in terms of karma, a past debt we have been able to repay in this way, or as the clearing of energy. We can simply thank the event for being part of our experience and let it go. This completes the process that the occurrence has made possible.

To make this letting go official, we can perform a ritual, make a final journal entry on the subject, or sit in meditation with the intention of releasing the event from our consciousness. As we do so, we summon it one last time, honoring it with our attention, thanking it, and saying good-bye. We then let it go out the door, out the window, out the top of our heads, or into the earth through the bottoms of our feet, liberating ourselves from any burden we have carried in association with it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Optimism

Interesting shifts take place the longer one deals with being an Alzheimer's Caregiver Partner. I realized that while taking care of my partner (keeping him as safe, clean, content, useful, busy, etc) I have forgotten to figure myself into the equation.

Not that I don't take care of myself but the personalities of the Caregiver Partners seem to merge with my own taking second place. All thoughts are shadowed by Gregory and his Alzheimer's.

The task is all consuming physically, emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually with little time left for myself. People always say, "Are you taking care of yourself?" While they are well meaning, it tells me that they do not really understand what it takes to be in this position. 

Of course I am taking care of myself as much as possible. I eat well. I continue to sleep well. I can got out on my own when Gregory's Companions are with him. I read, go to the theater, eat candy, enjoy cooking, feel good about the order I am able to create for Gregory and me in our home.

But the emotional side of seeing your loved one continue to disintegrate in front of your eyes on a daily basis, unable to do today what he could do yesterday, who knows about tomorrow, and to try to untangle the messy web of associations he gets himself into cannot be put to rest.

The constant monitoring of his needs, actions, behaviors, thoughts is a job that cannot take a ten minute break, a weekend off, let alone a vacation. It is with you all the time even when I are not with Gregory.

Even while "taking care of yourself" it is very difficult to leave the mental and emotional part behind. It reminds me of people to try to escape from their problems by going on vacation or more extremely running away from their problems only to realize the problems came along with them. You can avoid your problems but that will not help solve them!

But then this shift I first spoke of began to take place. After 35+ years of being part of a loving, respectful, growing relationship and after 10+ years of being the lead caregiver partner, one begins to reestablish his own individuality and his own identity.

Yes I am still Gregory's Life Partner. Yes I am the lead member of his caregiving team. But I am also me and I am separate and I am different and I am unique and I will somehow come out on the other side of this Alzheimer's as a whole me.

This shift began to take place during my Yoga Nidra Mindful Meditation sessions when I realized that all the work done during the meditation was about Gregory instead of about me.

Once I made that shift I found that by making the meditation, the quest, the ability to quiet the noise in my head about me and not him, I was in a better place. I could be better with and for Gregory as well as for myself. 

In other words I began to concentrate on me NOT on him and we all received the benefits. For example, NOT "How can I be better for Gregory" but rather "How can I be a better person." One step further is accepting my desires in the present tense, already present and already functioning. I AM A BETTER PERSON!

This BLOG's writing was sparked by today's horoscope as added below. I realized as I read it and identified with what it had to say, that I was thinking about me and my life and my future and not necessarily Gregory's. This may sound selfish but it is not.

My meditations will change me ... not Gregory. It will help me create a more patient, calm, loving environment for Gregory but he will still have to be the one to live in his world. I will work at understanding his world, but I do not have to live in it!

• • • • •

From: http://www.dailyom.com
March 9, 2013
Lifted by Outlook
Aries Daily Horoscope

Your optimism can spark your determination today, providing you with the motivation you need to reach a new phase of accomplishment. The visions of a more beautiful future that you entertain while working and playing will likely inspire you to double your efforts where your ambitions are concerned. You may feel buoyant and energized as you contemplate the fulfillment of your expectations. And because you are likely approaching your tasks with an attitude of confidence today, you may find that you do not hesitate when presented with auspicious opportunities. If you take pleasure in your quest for accomplishment, you will likely have little trouble looking on the brighter side of life.

The most potent forms of motivation are often those that originate within us, fueled by the joy we feel when we contemplate our positive expectations. When we focus on our dreams and hopes, we need not concern ourselves greatly with the trials we face in the pursuit of our ambitions. Though we must address these issues directly, they do not cause anxious thoughts to blossom in our minds. Rather, we choose to treat tribulation pragmatically by doing all that is within our power to overcome the roadblocks that stand in the way of our eventual success. Our spirits never flag and we can take pride in the fact that we are doing our best to meet our goals, no matter what the outcome of our efforts is. The optimism you carry in your heart today will energize you and ensure that you stay strong in the face of adversity.

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

W.S. Merwin
Found in Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith. Anne Lamott. 2007. P 83.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Meditation: Round 2: Practice 2

Sometimes, in advance I think about what my intent for a practice might be or sometimes an idea just comes to me before or on the day of a practice. This time, mid-week, I decided to have my intent be: "What ever comes!" I wanted to be open to whatever thoughts might show up during the practice.

I was able quickly to get to a deep meditative state and reaffirmed my intent of "whatever." 

Next, in thinking about my heartfelt desires, which you may remember is a larger, more encompassing view of what I hope for in my life, I "felt" that at least for today, my desire was to be more centered, to be more in control of my ups and downs my sorrows and my joys.

I won't go into detail again here, but I visited my Inner Resource and felt great joy at knowing my departed pets and parents could visit me there.

At a certain point in my deep state, after visiting my Inner Resource, and doing the breathing exercises and the body awareness exercises, I realized that my daily world had disappeared. I wasn't "carrying" Gregory around, or the activities and noise which usually ride with me on a day to day basis. The room around me was gone and Corinne's voice, while there and guiding me, was gone as well.

When we got to the feelings/emotions exercise in which one picks an emotion to focus on and then changes the focus to the opposite of that emotion, I experienced a presence in the room. Lying on my back I would say it hovered over my left shoulder.

In focusing on the presence, it became a woman whose face I could clearly see, with her bright shining eyes, her glowing golden hair, in fact everything about her glowing golden with a lightness of being. She was so full of love and contentment and embracing.

My mind (meditative subconscious not alert active) identified her as an "Angel." I realized that the emotion she carried was Joy.

As I shifted my focus to the opposite emotion, her opposite, I experienced the presence of a man over my right shoulder. He was also an "Angel" but he was Sorrow. He was shadowy, incomplete, blurry, heavy, sad.

With these awarenesses, I connected their presence to my heartfelt desire of being more centered. Here I was lying on my mat, joy on my left, sorrow on my right, me in the center.

Next, Corinne had us focus on our Inner Strength and to acknowledge it. This was very difficult for me to do. I actually said to myself, "No, I cannot do this." I am aware that during a practice one might run into some conflict of thought and part of the practice is that one can take it off in whatever direction one needs to. I found it interesting that I could not focus on my Inner Strength. I know that I am strong, I know that my Inner Strength exists, but I could not bring it to the front for a closer look. I could not acknowledge it.

I decided that the conflict had to do with my situation, living being between Joy and Sorrow all of the time. It seemed to me that the way I deal with my inner strength is to just do it, not to contemplate it. I realized that at least for now, Sorrow plays the dominant role over Joy. While sometimes Joy does exist and I can hold onto it without feeling the Sorrow, and while there is a lot of Joy in my life, most of the time Sorrow holds the cards and I just need to go forward and ignore both to survive my days.

Looking forward to Practice #3.




Monday, March 4, 2013

Call It Progress

I guess you could call it progress that now I have to put his Medic Alert necklace on his neck and tuck it under his shirt because he doesn't know how to do it.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to monitor his electric shaver because after only one day of new $40.00 blades he nicked and ruined them.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to make sure his bed side drawer is closed at bedtime because he forgets to close it and the cats like to play with his stuff.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have help him zip up his coat because he doesn't know how to do it.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to butter his toast because he doesn't know how to do it and tries dipping it into the butter tub.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to select his clothes for him each morning because he not able to do it for himself.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to put his chocolates out each night because he cannot figure out how to do it.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to put his hat and gloves in his coat pocket when we arrive at a destination because he doesn't know how to do it.


I guess you could call it progress that now I have to fasten his seat belt in the car because he doesn't know how to do it.

I GUESS YOU COULD CALL IT PROGRESS THAT HE KNOWS HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT OR THAT "SOMETHING IS WRONG."

At least I am beginning to know more consistently how to help him.














Sunday, March 3, 2013

Update

Gregory continues to fail.
I continue to compensate.
He is happy, healthy, content.
I am coping.
So I guess I would have to say we are doing well.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Conditioning


This excerpt is from "Skinny Thinking" a yogic approach to loosing weight. I have paraphrased it here to apply to my own conditioning with regards to living with and loving someone with Alzheimer's. I have also included the original below. Both are great lessons.

• • • • •

Today, make a point to notice when conditioning has been triggered and see if you can sidestep your emotional response. If you are able to do this, miracles can happen! You catch an emotion before it's been created!

When you are criticizing yourself, it's your ego, your conditioning talking--not who you are. Although there may be a sliver of truth in what you're thinking (this is what hooks you), because you are speaking from conditioning, you know that your words can't contain the whole truth. When you criticize, judge, attack, or blame, in that moment, you believe your conditioning. The best relationship you can have to yourself is one of compassion for your own suffering.

Being able to respond with compassion when you are attacking yourself only requires being able to see the truth--that your behavior doesn't reflect who you really are, which is pure love, or Essence. It's just your conditioning talking. If you can be present enough to automatically recognize conditioning when angry with yourself, you won't have time to take it personally.

In other words, if your first reaction is to recognize the conditioning, instead of taking it personally, then there will be no upset. But, if you take it personally and feel upset, then it can be hard to regroup and get back to the truth. 

If you can train yourself to see conditioning, to instantly notice when negativity is present and label it, "That's conditioning showing up," then your noticing will pre-empt our automatic response of taking it personally. 

Your first reaction will be to see the truth before any negative belief has a chance to arise and precipitate messy negative emotions.

http://www.facebook.com/SkinnyThinking

Today, make a point to notice when conditioning has been triggered, either ours or someone else's, and see if you can sidestep your emotional eating response. If you are able to do this, miracles can happen! You catch an emotion before it's been created!

When people are criticizing us, it's just their ego, their conditioning talking--not who they are. Although there may be a sliver of truth in what they're saying (this is what hooks us), because they're speaking from conditioning, we know that their words can't contain the whole truth. When people criticize, judge, attack, or blame, in that moment, they believe their conditioning and they're suffering. The best relationship we can have to them is one of compassion for their suffering.

Being able to respond with compassion when people are attacking us only requires being able to see the truth--that their behavior doesn't reflect who they really are, which is pure love, or Essence. It's just their conditioning talking. If we can be present enough to automatically recognize conditioning when anger is coming at us, we won't have time to take it personally.

In other words, if our first reaction is to recognize the conditioning, instead of taking it personally, then there will be no upset. But, if we take it personally and feel upset, then it can be hard to regroup and get back to the truth. If we can train ourselves to see conditioning, to instantly notice when negativity is present and label it, "That's conditioning showing up," then our noticing will pre-empt our automatic response of taking it personally. Our first reaction will be to see the truth before any negative belief has a chance to arise and precipitate messy negative emotions.

Whether conditioning is coming at us from the inside or the outside, we can approach it the same way. If we notice it right away, label it as conditioning and don't buy into it, we can sidestep both the emotion and our emotional eating response altogether.

Follow Your Heart