Live Imperfectly, Dad is dying, and I Have no Power.

wilted flower

Living with someone like tomorrow might be their last is much harder to do when it is actually the case.

My dad told me, after my nine-year old niece died, that a parent should never outlive their child.  When I look at my own children, I know that is true. But with my parents aging process, my dad’s long and difficult past twenty years, and now near end of life condition, I just don’t know how I’d order things, if I could, between us.

When God, (Morgan Freedman,) told the complaining Bruce Nolan, (Jim Carey,) that he could have all of his powers, the audience of “Bruce Almighty” projected both a positive transference and a schadenfreude. Bringing the viewer into the character’s identity is every actor’s aspiration. And we went there. Up. “Yay! Bruce can answer everyone’s prayers with a ‘yes’!” And then down, down, down. The multidimensional disaster’s created by misplaced power, power without wisdom, love, or altruism, was just painful to watch. Power does not God make.

My Dad is dying. Not likely from cancer. Not likely from a failed liver, floppy heart, or baggy lungs. He is just dying.  He’s confused on and off. His spine is failing so he can barely walk. He has repeated blood clots. And he’s recently risen out of a deep depression. Rison right into a confused grandiosity, full awkward, awkward like pants ripping when you bend over type of awkward, and inter-galactic soaring thought content.

The first “word” Dad played in Scrabble last week was “vl.” He explained, “vl, like vowel.” …Okay? For thirty minutes Dad played without playing one actual word. I started crying when he finally stopped connecting letters. The letters floated on the board like California will look after the “big earthquake” finally hits and it falls into the ocean. (We’ve all been waiting.) Now he tells me he called and spoke to Obama and Magic Johnson. Reference point. This is bizarre and out of his character.  He’s been delirious with waxing and waning level of consciousness for a month and a half. He’s dying. Sheez.

Living well while Dad dies is not easy. Would I use power to restore him to his healthy twelve-year old self, like Elli’s seventy-year old grandfather did, in “The Fourteenth Goldfish,” by Jennifer L. Holm? Would I use power to change the order of death? Would I do anything more or less or different, while my dad is dying?

Power does not God make. I am not God. (Ta-da! It’s out of the box now.) But both of us are watching Dad die. I trust that She, with the power, wisdom, love, and altruism, is living with him well, during this time.

In Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, by Camille Pagán, Libby Miller decides to live, just live, rather than die perfectly.  And maybe that’s my answer to this unasked question. Living with someone dying will not be perfect for me.

Self-Care Tip: Live imperfectly to live well, like this is your, his, or her last day.

Question: How do you “live well?”

Keep on!

Know You Are Blessed

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Think of the worst of us.  Think of the worst about us.  Think of those with self-loathing.  Those with low self-awareness, the violent, and the violated, think of them.  Where is the blessing?

Blessed are the depressed and anxious.

Think of the healthy.  Think of the diseased.  The misunderstood, the ones who live miles apart from connection, who ever push like a dingy from the peer into waves and self-destruction, think of them.

Blessed are the poor and lonely. 

Where is the blessing when your real estate is brought low by the creeping up of low-life.  Where is the blessing when you get cancer just when you might retire, when your own body calls you stupid, when you lose your eyes after training as a surgeon?

Blessed are those whose bodies are dying.

Think of every corner, every shadow and open space and the turns you still don’t know about inside of your life.  Think of the unacceptable, the character you wrestle against to moderate away from extreme.  The rope you swing on and try to bring to rest, think of the grey you think you will never achieve.  This bit and chapter, this part of your construction, this surprise in how you deliver is Loved.

There is no aberration from the norm that can separate you from that Love.  There is no addiction or misdemeanor or illness or mutated cell that can lose blessing.

This is fact.  Our life is to live with it.

Blessed am I.  Blessed am, “Me.”

Question:  Where is the blessing in what you like least about yourself?  Please tell us your story.  We need to hear you! Keep on.

Self-Care Tip:  Be your own friend in adversity as in prosperity.  Know you are blessed.

Bearable Disappointment

Guest Post!

Read on 🙂

We’re aware as smart single women that we can’t expect perfection.

But life still manages to throw us curve balls.

Maybe once you’re into your mid-thirties,

it shouldn’t be called dating,

it should be called waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Why is it always something?

Unless you’re in a problem free relationship with TiVo.

– Sex and the City

 

Despite the fact that the mention of TiVo dates this quote (remember TiVo?!), it still rings true. And you don’t need to be in your mid-thirties for it to apply. Any woman, or person for that matter, who has dated for a length of time knows the meaning of this quote in his or her bones.

You meet someone. It is electric. You connect over so many things. His father passed when he was small too. She loves Quentin Tarantino movies as much as you do. You both want to travel the world with nothing but a backpack. You share a love of fine wine and cooking extravagant dinners.

Before you know it you are sailing off in a sea of hormones and dreams of a future with this new, amazing person. You spend time at work day-dreaming of all the romantical things the two of you will share and your heart skips a beat when you see a new text/call/email.

You are twitterpated. Crushing, hard.

The intensity of these new-love emotions makes you feel as if this person is your destiny. This is deep and something you have never felt before. He is “the one”. You are ready to introduce her to mom.

Suddenly all of your hopes and dreams come crashing down, shattering into a million smithereens.

It could be any number of different things. “Deal breakers” are different for everyone. Prince charming could have said:

  • “Well, I am a musician, but it’s more of a hobby right now. I work at Big 5 to pay the bills”
  • “I live with my mom”
  • “I don’t actually have a college degree. I said I did because I’m only 20 credits away”
  • “I’m impotent”
  • “I have a daughter”
  • “I don’t want to see you anymore”

Sigh.

At the very least you are disappointed. You might feel devastated. Even worse, you might consider throwing your standards out the window to start a relationship with this individual anyway.

Let’s get real and break it down.

Getting real: You don’t know this person. Really, you don’t. You feel like you do because of the adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin running through you. It is also very likely that you have projected a huge, unrealistic fantasy onto them that has no basis in reality. That whole engagement speech you dreamed he would be reciting on bended knee? Yeah, you made that up in your head. The home-cooked meals and coffee dates with your mother you thought she would be making? Also fiction.

It is so easy to become disappointed and exhausted by dating, and life in general, when we live in the future instead of the present. When we live in the future we set ourselves up for disappointment and hurt feelings.

If you feel wounded by your dating life, only you can change that.

Be present. Make reality your friend.

Being present: Don’t wait for a partner to make your life happen. Enjoy every day. Plan trips. Have fun. Be grateful for everything you do have. You have so much! I keep a gratitude list on my phone that I add to and read when I am feeling sorry for my single self.

Making reality your friend: By realizing that that the initial excitement of dating a new person is not a promise for the future, you will save yourself a lot of heartache. People are often not who you perceive them to be (this is usually not their fault). And while it is frustrating when individuals misrepresent themselves, that is part of the dating game. Have compassion for people who don’t feel comfortable being up-front about who they are, and move on, (without them!).

Putting all your emotional eggs in one basket is your decision. Allow a potential partner to earn that over time. Let them demonstrate through actions who they actually are and that they are trustworthy. As the song goes. “You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait.”

Also realize this disappointment you feel is not personal. It is not a reflection on you. You are worthy of love. Have hope and stay positive. Remain grateful.

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

– Kurt Vonnegut

Question:  How have you and do you endure well when disappointed?

Self-Care Tip:  Remember that this disappointment is not personal.  Keep on.

20140224_182909Jessica Adams:  I am a science teacher in Southern California who thinks about relationships, human health, love and of course science. I am passionate about doing what is right for kids and personal growth.

 

Lupita Nyong’o Speech on Beauty – W-O-W! And, thank you.

“…and my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.”

This woman gets us. Friend to yourself. Keep on.

When I am an old psychiatrist

When I am an old psychiatrist, I’ll be looking at you through my purple eye folds, with my wrinkled pressed lips, eyeglasses pushed tightly to my face, pride propping up my several chins, incensed with the smells of my own medicated dying body.

Proud of you. Proud of me. Not the kind of pride that squashes humility. For what have we to be proud of if we live without Grace. We will still be receiving what we have done nothing to deserve. The kind of pride that says,

There is Love.

There is one who has suffered and healed and hurt and lived well.

We will have made a lot of mistakes. We will have made and continue to make amends.

The kind of pride that kids pressed shoulder-to-shoulder know of when the spinning roundabout slows down. We will be able to hear,

Here is one in whom I am well pleased.

We will hear that and not be ashamed.

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Quirky Blessings

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I did it again!  Left the house in my slippers.  Mercy.  Didn’t realize until I parked at work.  So, I think again about balance and slipper reminders.

Oh, and about the socks… I have my reasons.  Smile.

Question:  What has been helping you toward balance?  Please tell us.

Self-care tip:  Allow quirks in life to be the blessings that they are.

Old and Dying – Why We Are Still Alive

geriatric lady

Sweaty, well-worn, in bike-ware, she was eating comfortably with her friend.  I kept trying not to stare and just had to fight it!  I wanted to imprint her shiny wrinkled yet blooming geriatric status and break down what I saw into categories of self-care moves to grow old by.  She looked really good.

I managed to finish eating at, (Oh my word! Yum! My new binge and bolt location,) Zinc Cafe, without ruining her appetite with a big hug and smooch from crazy-staring-stranger, me.  I almost congratulated myself, it was so hard not to do.  Nevertheless, when walking out I did stop and tell her she was beautiful and that I wanted to grow up to be her.  She bloomed even more, right there and then.  It was swell.  Good food.  Good role-model to remember.

We think it is our best years that people will identify us by.  But they do not just do that.  They think of us as how we are now too.  More importantly is how we think of ourselves – of Me.

It is different for everyone.  Why we want to be here.  Understanding why, is a universal interest.  It is the other side of value in the aging process.

My parents are getting old.  I am.  My patients and their parents are getting old.  We are dying.

My dad is old.  He just turned seventy-nine.  He is not wearing bike shorts.  He is not a blooming geriatric.  But I value him and saying why, well, I realize starts with “Me.”  It is not because of him thirty years ago. It is about his life these last thirty years.  It is about his Me, now.

The present does not prove nor negate the past.  Our value is more than that.

Sometimes I visit community practitioners.   Please visualize that all of this is in the middle of their busy clinic day, racing between exam rooms to meet patient needs.  I am standing at a nurses station perhaps, dressed in something über professional, (to hide the gypsy in me as well as I can.  But if it were you, you would not be fooled by the cut of my lapel!)  I catch the eye of the clinician and receive a strained smile, almost hearing her say, “Come on!  I’m dying here!  I have three patients waiting!”  But generally they do not actually say it, generally.  And sometimes, they are snagged by the magic of connection, take my elbow and draw me away into a private space where they can share their story.  In a matter of moments.

We are skilled at shaving moments here and there.  Skilled at putting as few words into a fat minute that can convey the large concept needed just Now!  We learn this over brow-beating years of managed care medical practice, personal choices, convoluted expectations and need to please – self, other, insurance or what not.  When clinicians share stories, we do it like we are late catching the train to heaven.

From these visits, I get more to my quality of practice.  I get known, and get to know.  Awesome.  It is a newer part of my “work,” that I have been doing this, and I am loving it.  I meet the people who are the other side of our patient’s treatment team.  I meet people who are both human and medical clinicians.  Realness surrounds them.  Life stories come from them.  In a fat minute I hear about their past, gain some understanding of their present and from that, I am given much.  One physician told me of his beloved daughter who suicided, another of her husband’s chronic brain illness and how their family struggles.  I shared how my young cousin hung himself and that part of me who is groping toward that space and time before he died.

To know who we are despite our changing emotions and behaviors, our changing identities, improves our understanding of life value.  Somehow, Dad has known that, without bike shorts.  He continues to mentor me in that.  I do not know about the beautiful geriatric at breakfast, but who is to say she does not know her value?  Not Me.  But I am going to explore my own, for my sake.  I am getting old.

Self-Care Tip:  Look and look some more for why you are valuable.

Questions:  What is valuable about you, even though you have lost so much in life?  Why are you still alive?  Please tell us your story.

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