Sunrise: reflections and insight

Today I awoke at 5:30 am feeling refreshed and recharged. Looking out the giant window as I lay in the comfortable bed, I was able to remain quiet and calm and go within. I have learned that I use music to help me focus and to restore my energy. Music is healing

Silence is golden

I often resist quiet meditation time. My sweet husband has reminded me often how important it is to have time in the quiet. I know that in theory and believe it. Yet, I have used excuses as to why I don’t do that. Who has time to sit and be quiet? For me, it isn’t even about the time. It’s more about my mind being so busy with thoughts, often anxiety, that I have needed music to quiet the inner turmoil in order to focus.

Time alone is essential

I have discovered many things about myself over the course of the past three days.

I enjoy:

Walks on the beach without a plan or time frame

Reading while in my beach chair at the water side as my chair slowly sinks deeper and the water rushes against me as the tide comes in

Walking along the boardwalk at sunset

Walking on the beach at sunrise, something I already knew

Watching people

Talking with random strangers and learning about their life

Having casual conversations with the employees at the pier store

Connecting with someone because she has a dog and is standing alone

I have learned these things that either I didn’t realize or had forgotten:

Talking to people gives me inspiration for writing

Having an adventure by myself makes me giggle and also gives me writing ideas

I really do not care what other people think about me

I enjoy video blogging, even if I’m not yet good at it

What is good enough?

I like order and having a plan

I also love spontaneity and the freedom to do whatever…

Drink from the carton with the refrigerator door open

Leave things messy and fall asleep without changing

It is really cool to sit on a bed and be able to view two televisions and to be able to watch two shows at once

And I don’t understand why anyone, even an actress in a movie, would cheat on Richard Gere!

Watching Harry Potter movies by myself is not nearly as fun as watching them with my kids.

Watching feel good, uplifting movies inspires me to write

Stepmom is an amazing movie and makes me cry,while sitting in my pink bath

When I am depressed, I don’t feel real sadness

Depression and sadness are two very different things

Being on the 20the floor with an entire side wall of windows, in the heart of Myrtle Beach and being able to view the city and the ocean, is…

THE MOST AMAZING GETAWAY that I could ever have asked for.

I plan to make this a yearly pilgrimage and I want this very room each time.

I will be happy with any room with a side view from the 20th floor, or the 19th, even the 17th would be high enough for a beautiful view, right?

I like consistency and the idea of coming back to this very room to have memories to inspire me to write even more.

I also love change and variety and know that I will be inspired to write from any floor of this building, yet being up high is the most amazing.

My fear of heights is also exhilarating…

Standing at the edge of the balcony looking out

Looking to the ocean doesn’t really bring fear, but when I turn for the city vie, that’s when my heart races and my chest tightens

Maybe there is a message in that

Or maybe my fear is more about falling into traffic and landing on concrete

I do have some claustrophobia discovered when standing on a narrow hallway with no windows, on the 20th floor of a glass building, and reading the sign that say, “in case of fire, use the stairs, brings scary things into my mind that I had to shut down immediately to enjoy myself.

And maybe that’s the difference with someone with obsessive compulsive disorder and myself. I have fears and even obsess over ideas somethings, yet I have the ability to shut down the thoughts quickly. I knew that OCD involved the inability to shut down irrational, unhelpful, scary thoughts. Yet thinking about standing in the hallway reading that sign and how easily I was able to shut the thought out AND how easily I was able to NOT let it stop me from enjoying myself. Sure, it entered my mind each time I saw it, but I quickly moved on and didn’t obsess about it when I wasn’t standing there next to the sign.

I am always amazed at the clarity writing brings me. I had no idea when I sat down to write that I would talk about the sign and discover insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an illness that invades my children’s lives.

We won’t be staying on the top floor next month when I bring my family to North Myrtle to celebrate my 50th birthday. And that is ok with me.

I will stop and listen better to them, knowing that sitting with the fear is what they need to do to overcome OCD, and also that they don’t have to sit with all their fears, especially when on vacation. There is a difference between their fears stopping us living our lives, and minimizing being in fearful situations so that they can relax and have an enjoyable time while on vacation.

I could sit here all day on this balcony.

It’s 7:30 am now and I just remembered I wanted to take a picture of the sunrise for this post.

I can leave today, knowing I can come back here with points and also without points.

I can stay longer next time.

I can leave here today, looking forward to coming back in three weeks with my family with the thought of all five, and hopefully six of us, will be together on the beach.

We have a tradition of family vacations at the beach and that is something they will take with them for the rest of their lives. And even after I am gone, they can come to the beach and think about me, remembering our time together.

I need to go home and find the pen drive with the journal entries I write for Jason’s journal. I have Harrison and Abbys’s on paper in my bedroom closet. I likely have more entries for them as well on those pen drives or stored somewhere on a computer.

My post had moved from inspiration to a to do list….

I will capture my picture of where I am now and move forward.

Caregiver Burnout

I have both personal and professional experience with caregiver burnout.

I work in adult and primarily, geriatric, rehab as an Occupational Therapist. I have worked in this area my entire career, since 1992, when I graduated from Elizabethtown College with my bachelor of science degree in Occupational Therapy.

As I wrote The word career, I had to stop. Yes, I have had a career…it sounded bizarre to me after I typed those words.

Being a mom has always been my desire and passion. Occupational Therapy is something that feels like a part of me, yet since having children, it became a job, one I had to do to earn a living and had to continue doing when my husband’s business was getting started. And over the years, for many reasons, I have been the primary breadwinner most of the time. Don and I are part of book, our story is one of 60 others in Breadwinner Wives and the Men they Marry.

I don’t think of myself as a “career woman”. I think of myself as a mom who is also an Occupational Therapist. Being a mom is my most challenging and most rewarding “job” and my favorite role.

As an Occupational Therapist, caregiver education is very important. Over the years, I have realized in geriatric rehab and especially when working with people with dementia, that caregiver education is vital. With dementia, caregiver education is not only essential but also needs to be the primary role for an Occupational Therapist.

I see first hand from the people I work with and their caregivers, the impact of caregiver burnout.

I also have been a caregiver for my husband after he suffered a near fatal, massive heart attack in 2011 and spent 12 days in the hospital and 6 months in recovery.

When he graduated cardiac rehab 6 months after his “event”, I developed bronchitis which was reoccurring for over 6 months and then was in a car accident, ironically, one year after his heart attack. I still had wheezing at the time of the car accident, enough that they x-rayed my lungs. I didn’t have any major injuries and went home from the hospital the day of the accident. Yet, I suffered from that accident for a long time. Physically, I hurt for several months and mentally and emotionally, I suffered for years.

I honestly believe my recurrent bronchitis was a result of caregiver burnout and on a spiritual level, so was my car accident. The other driver was 100% the cause of the accident, or so the police reports and insurance companies said. I have forgiven the driver, never really blamed her per se. I blamed the fact that she wasn’t paying attention fully as she drove with her 2 year old in the car with her. One of my first questions after my accident was, “Are the other people ok?”, as blood ran down my nose after getting myself out of my car through the passenger door because I thought the smoke from the airbags meant the car could be on fire. The driver’s side door could not be opened as she had slammed into me making a left turn into the front corner of my car, pushing me sideways into another car at a stop sign.

“Are the other people ok?”

I am a mother of three, a wife, a healthcare worker, a child of aging parents, a child of a parent with chronic illnesses. Did I mention they called my husband’s heart attack, “a widow makers heart attack”? The medics and ER doctors, brought him back to life.

I am a caregiver.

I am significantly injured in a car accident and my first question to bystanders is, “Are the other people ok?”

As Caregivers, we often put the needs of others ahead of our own needs. Yet, doing this over time, affects our own health. And if we don’t stop and meet our own needs, we can suffer in many ways.

I am the mother of children who suffer with mental illness.

I am diagnosed with Bipolar Depression, Bipolar II. I only discovers my diagnosis because my brother also has this illness. I suffered for years with undiagnosed depression. Undiagnosed because, to me, it didn’t look like significant depression. I knew it was depression but told myself for years that it was “mild depression”. I was still functioning. I didn’t seek help until a friend who was prompted by my husband to convince me to seek help. That was nearly 5 years ago.

I have always known the importance of taking care of myself. I used to think I did a very good job at giving myself “me time”, attending to my own physical, spiritual and emotional health. My favorite metaphor is,

We must first put on our own oxygen mask, before we can help the person next to us with theirs.

Yet, I see now how much of my energy has been invested in caring for others.

I have repeatedly said that my job as an O.T. is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and coming home to be a caregiver for others is very taxing. I even joke about how I wish I had become an accountant or gone into a math field, as math was my best subject in school. The thought of sitting alone with numbers all day sounds like a nice change from being a caregiver.

Caregivers care for others because they have to and also many times, because it is their nature to do so.

Many people of all ages, need a caregiver. From babies and children of all ages though aging parents, people can have needs that they can not handle alone.

As humans, we all need to care for each other.

Being a primary caregiver to someone demands our time and our energy. Giving energy to others and not refilling our own cup, is what depletes us.

For me, I need to be alone, away from the house and away from immediate responsibilities in order to recharge. After my second child was born, I began a ritual of Monday night out, writing time. I created Charlottehomeschooling,com in that time. I have written thousands of journal entries, for myself and for my children’s journals that I started for all three of them when I was pregnant with each of them. I started my bogs using Monday night writing. First Gina’s Life Journey and them Child-led Learning . I have used that time to both talk with my husband as well as work on my end for our family coaching Business, Focused Health Family.

My writing time started as a hobby, as my passion. I came home refreshed and renewed and re-energized for the other aspects of my life, for caregiving. Then it became “work” and I found myself escaping from writing during my time alone, playing online games and watching movies and TV shows. I escaped because my life was overwhelming and because distracting myself from all my stress was my way of “coping” and I thought it was recharging me.

I am here now, alone at the beach, for 3 days and 2 nights because I finally realized how burned out I had become. I also finally realized that getting away by myself was essential to overcoming my bipolar depression.

Please share your stories about being a caregiver. My blog is intended to spark a community of support for myself and for others. I would love to share other’s stories , either as a guest blogger or anonymously with my help and your permission to share for your story. I want to help others through my experience, creating a community and connecting others with similar struggles.

I am a caregiver.

Now it is time for a sunrise walk on the beach.

Respect is a Two-way Street

And these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

I looked at a large collection of images and this one really spoke to me.

You can not build (peace) with a (gun)

I took a screen shot on my iPad to share the image. I am aware it is likely a copy-writed image and thus my reason for sharing the entire screen and also the link to the post. I share it honoring the children, teens and young adults who marched out of school and made posters and spoke. I share it so their voices can be heard. ( the image disappears when I save)

Here is the link to the image: March 14 School Walkout

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes

Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes

Where’s your shame

You’ve left us up to our necks in it

Time may change me

But you can’t trace time

David Bowie’s powerful words in the song, Changes have always inspired me.

Today in our present climate and given that I am raising three children of this “millennial generation”, and after reading posts and watching videos from the March 14, 2018 National School Walk Out Protests, I realized I needed to write about respect.

Respect

I watched this video from Facebook shared by IJR Blue Presents

And then I participated in some discussion about this post.

And I wrote this in the comments on the post on my wall:

This person is our future. He is the future that I want to see in America. He is he kind of person I would love to see in political office. The voices of our youth have power. They see the world as it is, and without clouded vision of politics, agendas, special interests, and propaganda. We need to listen to them. They have great wisdom. This speech is so inspiring to me and brings me hope because THIS is the AMERICA that I can be proud of.

I read many comments calling the youth of today stupid and many people brought up the incidents of teens eating Tide Pods.

And my reply:

Teens of All generations do stupid things- but not all teens engage in the stupid behavior of eating tide pods. When I was a teen- they sniffed rubber cement- highly toxic. And I am sure you can think of stupid things you saw other teens do when you were growing up. Let’s stop bashing this generation of teens. I know MANY awesome teens/ young adults- 2 live at my house and are amazing people. And many of them inspire me with their wisdom and passion. We need to respect our youth in order to change our future and theirs….

and then I read this comment by another person:

A culture of spoiled brats raised their kids to be bigger spoiled brats, etc…now we are in danger of spoiled brats just popping up and shooting people anywhere. No better reason to arm ones self and remain that way. To hell with spoiled brats. God bless those who didn’t make and support the creation of spoiled brats! Where are the parents of the kids skipping school? Are they being disciplined for truancy? What the hell happened to justice? Doctors, cars, drugs, and cellular phones EACH KILL more children in a year than people with guns do. So many are thinking with their maternal/paternal instincts……but they are to too stupid to teach their kids that we don’t eat tide pods. SHAME ON PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHO CREATED AND SUPPORTED THE CREATION OF SPOILED BRATS! LACK OF DISCIPLINE IS CHILD ABUSE YOU IDIOTS! SMH

RESPECT

The key to changing our future is respecting our children, respecting our teens, respecting our youth.

Respect is a two way street.

The best way to teach respect to children is to RESPECT THEM!

I feel like I could say that one million times and it would not be enough.

Every generation blames the next generation….

Billy Joel sings it so well:

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

We need to stop blaming and take responsibility for ourselves and our choices.

As a parent of three children who are now 20, 16, and 9, I feel the most important thing we can do for our children is respect and love them and accept them for who they are.

I am raising independent thinkers who have the freedom to learn in a way that works for them and in an environment of support, love, and respect.

We have had more than our share of challenges along our life journey including financial struggles. Yet we power on, we continue living, we ask the tough questions and do the research and seek support, advice and guidance.

I have made mistakes as a parent, as a person. I am human.

We are all human.

I am a spiritual being having a human experience. Part of that experience is making mistakes. Mistakes are a big part of learning.

I am NOT a perfect parent.

My goal is NOT to raise perfect children.

I am a work in progress and continue to challenge myself and learn and grow and evolve, as a person and as a parent.

I allow my children to make their own choices in life and that includes making their own mistakes. I provide them with the support and guidance they need living in 21st century America. I am here to facilitate their learning and serve as a guide on their life journey.

I respect my children and their individuality, their interests, and their life desires.

I DO MY BEST to respect them in my actions and words. Like I said before, I am human.

I am raising “my children”, these young humans who are a part of my life journey, with the values of respect, compassion, kindness, and honesty.

These children are not “mine”, they are not my property. They are human beings the same as any grown adult is a human being and they deserve the same respect you would give your co-worker or your friend.

The next time your child spills or breaks something, before you respond (or even after), STOP, and ask yourself,

“Would I respond/ have responded that way if my best friend had broken my favorite vase?; or made that same mistake that our child just did?”

“Would I respond/ have responded that way if my co-worker or my boss spilled coffee? Or did what my child just did?”

It may sound cliche, our children are our future.

We need to allow our children to build their own future.

We need to allow our children to express themselves and provide them the opportunity to be the grandest version of themselves.

We need to work alongside our children,, guide, support and respect them.

Listen to them.

Our children are born to us with great inner wisdom and love and trust and express that until we “beat it out of them” or teach them hate, anger, fear and doubt.

We need to listen to our children.

They have great wisdom for they are closer to God/ spirit/ Universe…less burdened with “life baggage”. (Fill in your own belief system)

Maybe if we stop and look at children in a new light, and treat them with respect.

And stop blaming them or their parents…STOP the BLAME!

Point the finger back at ourselves and see how we can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Maybe then… we can help make real change happen and help our children make a better world for their future.

Billy Joel sings of the many issues and problems over multiple generations in his song, We Didn’t Start the Fire. See the full lyrics here.

He wrote the song in response to a teen telling him back in 1989 how tough it is to be a kid now compared to Billy growing up in the 1950s. I have taken poetic license and use this song to imply that there are always going to be challenges in the world and there always have been controversies and big problems. And to speak to adults complaining about “kids today”.

Kids today are amazing, empowered, intelligent, insightful, truthful and motivated.

….Until we teach them that they are not.

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again

Moonshot, Woodstockand honesty. , Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide

Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law

Rock and Roller Cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

But when we are gone

It will still burn on and on and on and on

And on and on and on and on…

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it

Much thanks and gratitude to:

Azlyrics, Billy Joel, David Bowie, IJR Blue Presents, Chicago Tribune, Facebook and all the people I quoted and those who responded to me

Mommy (Parent) Guilt: “Shoulding on myself”

I first posted this on my Ginaslifejourney Blog.

I share it here now as well.

A parents, we all deal with guilt and worry.

“Did something I do cause my child to have these issues?”

Is it all my fault?

I should have…

I should have worked more hours when i was pregnant with baby number 3.

I should have returned to work sooner after he was born in January 2009.

I should have worked more and saved more while I was pregnant.

I should have returned to work sooner so our debt didn’t grow so much.

I should have known to move money from our tax rebate to pay down our home equity line of credit after my husband had a massive heart attack so that Medicaid would have kicked in sooner, rather than exhausting all that money we had from me working extra hours and our tax rebate. (Deep breath)

The social worker should have told me the rules…

Someone should have told me that Medicaid says if you have more than $3000 in assesses (savings, checking, cash), then you wont; qualify for Medicaid…until that money is gone…

I should have applied for food stamps once we did qualify for Medicaid

I began the application several times, I should have finished it and sent it in.

I should have gotten more help then we would have less debt.

I should have done so many things….

I should have reached out for help sooner when my daughter showed signs of separation anxiety and other issues when I was pregnant with our third child.

I should have realized it was something more than just me being pregnant.

I should have gotten her help sooner so that her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, her anxiety disorder, her mental illness did not become so extreme and severe…

I should have gotten her on medication sooner…

I should have listened to my friend who suggested it might be OCD when it was mild.

I should have gotten her to a therapist sooner.

I should have researched OCD sooner, when my friend brought it up.

I should have listened..

I should have gotten her help sooner so she did not have to suffer so much.

I should have gotten my youngest help sooner when he showed signs of anxiety and OCD from at least age 2.

I should have countered when the therapist said, “I don’t think it is OCD”

I should have completed the paperwork even though it took 6 months to get it from the Development and Behavioral Pediatrician

I should have gotten him in sooner and not waited as long as I did.

I should have taken him to a mental health place sooner to get him help, medication.

I should not have had so much fear about giving my kids medication…I should have found more support when I knew that was needed.

Going to the psychiatrist should have been paid for by Medicaid.

Medicaid should have qualified people to treat my children and I should have access to finding the resources without having to jump through a million hoops and experience unqualified people and ill equipped facilities and services.

My children should be able to go to the specialists they need because of their illness even though they have government assisted health insurance.

I work in health care, I should have better health insurance.

I have a bachelors of science degree in Occupational Therapy and training in mental health care, I should be treated with respect when the people from Medicaid speak to me.

Everyone should be treated with respect no matter what their educational level.

I should be able to access information about my health insurance and services for my children even though it is government assisted.

I have paid into the system since I was 15 1/2 years old and so now that I need these services, I should receive them, if I qualify.

I shouldn’t have to jump through crazy hoops because my income varies from month to month and so does my 20 year old son’s income.

My 20 year old son’s income SHOULD NOT count toward our household income for the healthcare market place and definitely not for qualifying my younger children for Medicaid or NC health choice. My 20 year old son who purchased his own car, pays for his own insurance, and pays to attend community college part time all with his own hard earned money. (Deep breath)

I should have listened to my gut when I realized even though their Dad had survived, that my three kids had gone through a traumatic experience and would need some counseling and help…

Survivors guilt…but he lived, there is no help when your husband lives…

I should have listened to myself because I knew that experience was traumatic for all of us.

I should have let go of “survivors guilt” because he lived and our friends who lost husbands to heart attacks that same year, did not survive. “I should be grateful that he lived.”

I should on myself and others have should upon me….

And I should on other people.

It is really a bad habit and not helpful to anyone.

I should have filled out the special forms and jumped through the hoops to see if my son could qualify for grants for college costs, because they decided to use the same year for 3or 4 semesters to look at our income, the year we took out $65,000 from IRA money to pay down debt.

I should have worked more hours.

I should have been a better mom so my children wouldn’t have mental illness.

I should have been a better me so I wouldn’t have mental illness.

I should have done something different to prevent mental illness?

Is that really possible?

Do parents of kids who have cancer ask themselves this question?

Maybe they do, Maybe they don’t.

I shouldn’t have to wonder about this.

My kids friends and their parents should have been there more for my daughter when she was crippled with mental illness, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression.

They should have given her the love and support she needed just like they would have done if she had cancer.

WE SHOULD LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE MENTAL ILLNESS IS TREATED THE SAME AS OTHER ILLNESSES, PHYSICAL ILLNESSES WHICH ARE MORE SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE IN AMERICAN SOCIETY.

Mental illness SHOULD be classified the same as other illness because they last time I looked, my head and brain are attached to my body.

We need to stop shoulding on ourselves and on others

We need to embrace where we are now and make the best choices we can in the moment and realize we can not go back in time (not yet) and change the past. What is done is behind us and we must keep moving forward.

We need to stop judging other people and their choices and instead come from love to reach out to and help others with respect and kindness.

I give you this challenge today…

Pay attention to how often you SHOULD on yourself or on someone else.

We are often our worst critic and as moms, as parents, we are our own worse saboteur.

Love yourself and respect yourself first.

Only then can you love and respect others.


EFT Tapping Refresh

Life just keeps showing up, sometimes in ways that serve you and sometimes not!

Has life added some new aspects that are not serving you well? Are there issues that are stopping you? Holding you back again?

This is the time for you to do a EFT Tapping Re-Fresh. Bring back the high quality of your life

I have developed this EFT Tapping Re-Fresh especially with my past clients in mind yet everyone can benefit.

Find out more and  Register Here