A Moment with Alzheimer’s

Imagine this…

You don’t know the name of your own daughter when she is standing in front of you although you have been her Daddy for 52 years; the place you have lived for 6 months feels like a foreign land; you can’t see well because of a degenerative eye disease and your hearing is severly diminished. You believe (because your thoughts are so haywire), that everyone is out to get you and no one should be trusted. The one person you do trust has turned into two of the same person and you don’t know which one is the ‘good’ one. You are given a piece of chocolate that you love by a kind woman you generally like, but you can’t eat it because you are 99% certain she has poisoned it and you don’t know why she wants to hurt you.

Every conversation, every whisper, every sound is overstimulation and reminds you that there is a conspiracy in every corner. All of this…and yet, there are some very real cognitive processes and heartfelt feelings going on.

You quiet just a bit because of the medicine that was rubbed onto your neck to help calm you but now you feel sick and anxious for a time. You allow the kind woman that you generally like to kneel down beside you and hold your hand. You soften but you are still frightened, and your heart is racing as is your mind. “Is she safe?” you ask out loud. You allow her to stroke your forehead and listen to her soft words to you…although they are gentle, they are just a big clump of jibberish. Tears roll silently down your soft, wrinkly cheeks.

Then…you come to life for a moment in time. You tell the woman that you are nearly blind, can barely hear, don’t know who to trust and are scared ‘they’ are going to hurt you. You ask her why your brain is damaged too. You tell her that you have lived a good life, you have done things right…now here you are and there is nothing you can do to help yourself.

What does the woman say? She tells you that you are safe, that she loves you and that she does not know why this happened either. She holds your hand, lets you lean your forehead into hers and she prays out loud for you. She thanks God for your life and she asks him to hold you close through this often horrific journey. She asks God to allow her to provide comfort for these people on their journey, for in giving that comfort, she recieves her own healing.

#afewmomentswithalzheimers

#shepraysforacure

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TRY

I wasn’t going to write tonight.  Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am.  Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart.  Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.

This is not a pretty post.  Not at all.  It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story.  Whatever.

I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons.  About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much.  So fucking much.  Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46.  I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.

My heart aches.  Deeply.  Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection.  It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is.  Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media.  Really.  So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times.  I don’t even know why.  It doesn’t matter.  It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.

An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in.  Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.

Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately.  It’s all about the story we tell ourselves.  We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth.  It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.

I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship.  I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give.  Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly.  That’s one Sarah.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.

Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable.  She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it.  She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection.  She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted.  No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable.  This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices.  Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life.  Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship.  Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment.  Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.

I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term.  I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire.  I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others.  So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.

The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly.   I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others.  (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave.  So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave.  Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less.  Choose the lesser of two evils, right?  In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be.  All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.

Who knows what of this is true and what is not?  I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman.  That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be.  That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right?  Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role.  Ewwww.  But it comes so natural.

A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”.  I love that friend and his heart.  I want to believe his words.  My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up.  But to who?  How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself.  It’s ridiculous.  Real stuff, but ridiculous.

I have a safety plan.  Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’.  If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other.  This is our little funny!  In truth, I freak myself out.  What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man.  I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.

I am tired.  I cannot believe I am ‘here’.  There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.

My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight.  That should be more than sufficient.  Why do I long for anything more?  I just do.  Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.

This is my story.  I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people.  I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.

This is my honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

A list of stuff going good

Things are going good….

1) When I am craving my salad instead of chips and salsa.

2) When I am seeking a long term pay off over a momentary thrill.

3) When I see everything, even my past momentary thrills through a lens free from guilt and shame.

4) When I am combining my dreams with an intentional plan.

5) When I value forgiving myself every bit as much as I value forgiving another.

6) When I listen to my body as the ultimate guide for my health.

7) When I take time to be still with God…just to be…to pray…to study…to listen.

8) When I am flexible with my plan and open to the possibilities.

9) When I truly grasp it is not my responsibility to fix any other human being….EVER.

10) When I am equally open to the journey and the outcome and I stay aware of loving and embracing myself through it all.

11) Bonus: When I remember that “life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful”.

A little upside down day

Last night, I cooked a cheese pizza with the cheese side down. Not cool. Then, as I shook my cream for my morning coffee, I discovered the lid was not on. Creamer went everywhere…the dogs were grateful. I heard a strange noise in the bathroom and it was Maple literally eating the straps from my favorite bra. Ugh! My sleep last night was short (although worth the conversation I was having) and I put a multitude of outfits on before finding acceptable work attire today. I was pleased that Riverside was all the way open so I actually arrived at work early.
 
As I walked through the security scanner in the courthouse , I considered the fact that I have such a purpose going in there. I am going to advocate for a client and hold their hand (figuratively) through the process. It feels good to go in and know that I am going to hopefully shine a little perspective, hope and light where there is fear, anxiety and sadness. The problem is, I felt a bit melancholy myself this morning and just tired/achy. This means it was a little bit of a fake it until I make it game because this is my job, and my clients need me to do my job and do it well.
 
I was supposed to meet with three different people who all had the same court time. It turned out that only one of them showed up and I was secretly thankful, she needed the one on one attention desperately. She was freaked out, and I would’ve been freaked out too. The anxiety I had been feeling, and even called Traci Howell on my way to work to tell of, disappeared quickly in the midst of my client’s tears.
 
In deep thought, tired and slightly discouraged after court, I went back to my ho-hum feelings. My sweet Sharon Denise Harris was overwhelmed with lots of little babies in the nursery. She loves them dearly, but we all know what happens when one baby cries…it’s a crying orchestra! I went in and this is where I have spent a good portion of my day. My shirt is soaked in baby slobber and formula and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Babies are the best, best, best medicine for my heart.
 
This afternoon, I’ll be enjoying a massage that the kids got me for Mother’s Day. I’m apologizing profusely to the masseuse, as I forgot this appointment this morning and did not shave my legs. It’s just stubble, but whatever, lol! I’m so looking forward to this pampering, as I said, I just feel achy and tired. I have a good amount of homework and grown up things to do, yet there is this 4 year old inside of me screaming, “I don’t wanna!”  I’m just a little upside down today.
 
So…feel free to pray and send me your positive juju. XO and Happy Tuesday!

Soul Spark

It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”.    Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)?   It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right?  The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is.  Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.

My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story.  If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result.  The parable goes like this:

Good or Bad; Who Knows?

There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.

Then one day a herd of wild horses came run­ning through the vil­lage. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.

His neigh­bor came run­ning over and said, “This is good news! Such good for­tune! You are rich, this is amaz­ing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg bro­ken. The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A week later a Chi­nese gen­eral is march­ing through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is con­script­ing every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the vil­lage except the farmer’s son because of his bro­ken leg.

The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Yes! This is won­der­ful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows?  There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news.  The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life.  Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired.  My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific.  At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years.  My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses.  Another  consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa.  Again, who knows?  Additionally, in each moment we choose our path.  Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently,  truly believing it’s there?  It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.

Am I living congruently?  Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future?  The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I?  Why or why not?  Where did I learn them?  Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come.  I don’t have answers.  I don’t want to argue…not even with myself.  I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong.  I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.

There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in.  Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire.  I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow.  I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to  Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area.  I  cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life.  There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.

  1.  Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like?  Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
  2. I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation.  I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love.  I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
  3. Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy.  They also make me think outside of my box.  In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me.  I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value.  I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
  4. I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him.  There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me.  I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
  5. Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together?  This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
  6. It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises!  It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up.  It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
  7. I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
  8. When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes.  Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control?  My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me.  Time to let that illusion go.  Seriously.
  9. Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate.  One is not better than the other.  I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time,  a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
  10. Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels.  Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
  11. We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
  12. I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
  13. Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
  14. There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory?  Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls.  Is that going to happen ever?  Gosh, I hope so.
  15. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.

Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining.  Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.

I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves.  The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.

Good news or bad news?  Who knows.  Maybe that’s not the question.