Tag Archives: work

Dome on the Range

Atira Home Dome

So this week has brought ups and downs. I had a lot of emotional roller coaster riding, which the acupuncturist was uncomfortably quick to point out the cause. (Am I really that transparent?) It was a combination of hormones from trying to sync up with the rest of the female staff, in addition to liver heat and congestion I stirred up from doing cupping on my arms. Yea… not. As TCM practitioners, they were very helpful with some herbs for the emotional side, and needles for the physicality, and I took extra walks for the anti-inflammatory benefits. I can say after several days I am doing better.

I did also get a fair amount of wonderful artwork in, both digitally and by hand.

I was able to complete the first shirt design I posted about previously, and with a minimum of edits. Mainly they had me change font once, take out a few of the contour lines in the figure, and adjust colors. In my book that’s an excellent start for only having done 5 commissions in the last 12 years. They then requested a second shirt and a business sign, which I have drafts pending for. I am super appreciative of not only being able to play with my design software, but for having gotten the commission work as well. It feels really good to be doing a variety of things that I am good at.

I told Nathan that I always was really good at giving people what they asked for. Mainly because I don’t like having to rebuild or make significant time consuming changes. I would much rather ask enough questions up front to get the idea, and hit the mark as close as possible on the first try. Fonts are almost always where the edits come in, as I have so many fonts that I tend to aim for more creative, and sometimes the plain fonts are more desired by the customer.  The customer is always right, and their font preferences will always win.

Regardless, within a day or two I will likely clear my 3rd design approval, and that is in addition to working full time as a massage therapist. That is happy dance worthy in my book.

Now pile on top of that having had enough time to do some coloring and I am feeling much more buoyant. I chose a mandala and colored in between clients. The day I started it, I was wearing the colors that I started the mandala with- blues and lavenders. The office manager thought that was amusing, and after she pointed it out, I did too. I kept coloring and began to realize I had been coloring in the chakra palette. Blues and violets being throat, third eye and crown. Pinks and greens being for heart chakra, and yellow for solar plexus. By that point, having accidentally accomplished that much, I decided to finish the mandala in appropriate progression.

Here are the results, which I’m super happy with:

20191009_1554192054716829049856828.jpg

I also accomplished some really amazing massage work this week helping a client with multiple-decades-old scar tissue and what she thought was an underdeveloped scapula. After some very intense myofascial release, I was able to show her that not only were her shoulder blades the same size, but that the damaged shoulder was capable of laying flat. I also helped not one, but two people, with major constriction in their hips. It was a very good massage week.

My final note of upswing is in the image I began with. It is the design for my dream dome home. I’m working on turning my sketches into drafted images. Obviously, I’ve barely gotten started as it was a low priority. I won’t be building it next week, and unless a miracle happens, probably not this year. So, it falls last on the list after all other computing and design work wraps up. Considering I’ve literally only devoted a few precious minutes to it, I think I have a great start. I am so looking forward to finishing it.

I leave you with the following blessings:

May you find joy in your work and time enough for other joys.

May you have days filled with beauty, and the emotional fortitude to breathe and see it.

May you have more than enough, and ample miracles in your life.

Finally, may you see your strengths and your own inner beauty and light.

Siva Hir Su

I can only fix me.

This morning started with oversleeping from exhaustion. My infant is still not sleeping solidly through the night, we’re moving, and I’m going on 45 days without any downtime, knowing my next ‘day off’ will encure more heavy lifting.

I made it to work with 5 minutes to spare- only because we grabbed a breakfast bowl from QT, sans the cheese. I get to work and I’m confronted with chatty-Cathy that has spouted a whole mess of broad biased and bigoted generalizations like you’d hear on Fox news, and YouTube followed that with a notification to listen to Cranberries’ “Linger” with Spanish translations.

After the chatty-Cathy I ruminated on writing a long apology to the world. Apology for such an insignificant readership to actually matter, apology that my voice isn’t bigger/louder, apology for the attitudes of middle-class mostly-white over-55 Americans, apology that I’m not able to rise myself up higher/faster to make it known we’re not all like that.

I thought about telling the world to just ignore and walk away from America. That we’ve lost sight of real morals and values (not to be confused with cheap propaganda morals/values) and helping human kind. That America is full of racist bigots that will cast blame on anything and everything someone with any shade of color does, from stealing from our welfare system to opening business here on the American dollar and not paying taxes, both of which chatty-Cathy said within 5 minutes of me walking in.

But then if the world does walk away from America, what’s to come of the few of us genuinely striving for better. What if those few of us eventually need to flee America, where would we go if the world turns it’s back on us.

I realized that I was ruminating from scared, tired, lost and feeling alone. I listened to “Linger” knowing the song well already.

I realized I am a fool, things do go wrong, shit does stink, and sometimes this world sucks badly. I can’t apologize for everything that goes wrong when I’m not in control of those things. I’m also not a victim and refuse to be blamed for every thing that happens, especially when I’m not involved and not around to contribute, and especially when I know I’m already doing my best to help and be a good citizen.

Thus the only thing in my control is working on myself.

I can only vote using my conscious, ignore naysayers and those that insist on following status quo, focus on making my vote fall in alignment with my inner being’s knowing.

I can only focus on finding happy and my next step of improvement.

I can only battle the things that bug me long enough to find a solution. The solution is truly the answer, the battle only begets more battle.

I can only complain long enough to help refocus into a definition of what I need/want, because again complaining begets more complaining, and the solutions are really what I need.

I can’t let things bug me, or I’ll end up being eaten alive by concerns, fears, worries, and guilt.

I can’t keep existing trying to please others all the time. People are finicky and promise things they can’t fulfill. Swear they care, to turn and walk away. Say they like or love something until there’s a cloudy day or they’re simply not feeling like it today. Ask contradictory things of me to either challenge me or prove that I’ll fail, and either way it only accomplishes tearing me down and apart. Say they care to turn and blame me for everything that goes wrong for them. There are only so many apologies I can give before realizing that those apologies fall on deaf ears.

I’m done waisting my breath and heart. I’ve gotten much better at being much quieter, nodding and moving on, even with my own 4 year old. One day I’ll fix myself enough to attract people willing to work as hard as I do, willing to own their own crap as much as I do, willing to improve themselves as much as possible, and willing to work on finding improvement as much as I do, and willing to commit as much as I have.

For now, I must do better at one thing only: finding my happy and my next step of improvement.

The world will continue to be, for better or for worse, with richer and poorer, with birth and health and sickness and death.

All things are in this world and I must do my best to find the best I can, and leave the best mark I can. I must be there for the Divine/God, for good, for myself, for my husband and family. In that order even, as the first 2 really help to be there for myself and my family. That then becomes my legacy by default- was I there for my family enough that they saw my improvement and learned how to find their own improvement.

I wish that for everyone. If we can all accomplish that, eventually this world will seem a much better place. You’ll never eliminate the negatives, but the positives can weigh heavier in our experience, and enrich all of our lives. I wish that for all of you. Be well my dear readers. Find your happy today and most of all days.

Getting Somewhere… I think.

I needed help, I sent prayer requests to everyone I knew- regardless of religious preference, with the basics of what was going on. Even though I choose to reference myself as a Pagan, and view god in several different manifestational aspects, I see everyone’s connection with God as vital and helpful, so I ask anyone that is spiritual in any way, for support when I need it.

The church at work has come through with some help in a variety of ways, I am so grateful. I am really seeing how churches are really like companies, they bring people together for a common purpose and get the job done. Their purpose is just the spiritual side of things, and solidifies my belief in goals for Atira. I look forward to one day finding my pastor for the Temple of Atira at the heart of Atira community.

So, I needed a home, good enough for now. We’ve found just that. My husband stumbled onto a house in an OK neighborhood, not the best, but not the worst either. When he called, the landlord had 2 houses and one other person interested. We looked at both and put in our request, and I let God decide which was better for us right now- knowing they were essentially the same house, neighborhood, and cost. When the landlord called back, we got the one with the basement that is about mile closer to work, but no central air.

The house was a $100.00 per month over our goal. I had already expressed the need for a significant raise to my manager when they were contemplating hiring me back full time. So I told God I’ll definitely need that raise and then some if I’m going to start chipping away at getting ahead of my ball of mess.

The very day that my husband secured our new home with a deposit, my manager called me in. The offer: Tuesday through Saturday 8 hour days, $16/hr to start since I’ve jumped in and helped out so well. Once they figure out who is landing in what roles permanently, I’ll be bumped to $17/hr, and when I complete their online training program that will earn another $1/hr. So the faster I complete that, the better. IF I can get my A1C down from pregnancy/allergies and reinstate my medical card on my CDL I’ll get another bump (though that was more vague).

Regardless for now, I will have to continue to do massage. I’m giving the care-giving job nearly 3 weeks notice, and that will give me time to adjust my massage schedule. All will have to be set by October 28th, as that is the start of the first week full time for the offered position. I’m moving 2 of my buildings and as many individuals as possible to Sundays. My Mondays will stay the same fully booked at 2 of my long standing facilities. I will officially be working 7 day weeks, every week, but my days will be shorter with a 15-20 min commute and Sundays being most likely half days. I’ll actually get to see my children a little more than right now. So that’s a bonus.

As part of my new role I’m jumping into a book that the company started a couple of months ago, and each week they covered a couple of chapters during the weekly meetings. Since they’re already on chapter 24, I am cramming the reading of the book into one weekend to get caught up, so that I can present the next pair of chapters on Tuesday.

It’s called “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon, and so far I’m just hitting the chapters where the 10 rules for life are being started. The chapter I’m on (7), ends with a writing exercise, so I thought it apropos to write my answers down here.

  1. My vision for my life (including health) is:
    • I want to heal both my brain and my body. I see myself at a healthy weight (150-160 lbs) that is easy to maintain, almost effortless. I see myself having healed my digestive system so that it rarely reacts to small things and a place where only bigger intrusions become noticeable. I see myself being able to tell others that I have healed my brain enough that depression rarely rears its head, and I am generally in a good, happy place in life. I see myself in a place where I love myself every day, all day, and finally put a stop to self-degrading and self-limiting beliefs and language. I want to own my health fully and completely and know that I can sometimes have things without it hurting me physically or mentally. That I have built a fortress of good health.
  2. My vision for my work, career, job, and team is:
    • Ultimately, I see owning my own community: Atira, but not just for elderly. I see having Atira help adults of all walks of life and thus help many, many families. You can’t please everyone, but you can build a community that attracts only those that it desires to please, and that is my end goal.
    • I can see how my current work is giving me an eye into the vast complexity of what an organization like that means. I am getting a first hand glimpse into what it takes to run such a vast community, especially staffing needs and logistical breakdowns, and I can see that I have quite a ways to go before I solidly know how manage something so complex. I am grateful for this opportunity and it’s guidance, and I know that in time I will have the knowledge that I need to go and Start Atira.
    • I see that though it is a process to learn all of the things needed to build my community, I am the only one that controls the flow. I am the speed of the river, so I am the only one that can dictate how long it will take me to learn all of the things I need to know to accomplish building Atira. I state here that I wish to keep things moving: as soon as I master one step, I wish to be in a stable footing to take the next step comfortably. I know that the step I’m on is entertainment coordinator, and I am comfortable with some of the elements, but still working on logistical juggling and paperwork aspects. It will come quickly. I will find my groove. When I do and I can demonstrate maintaining the flow for a few months, I look forward to the next step: managing a team of people that do the leg work for an organization.
    • I know that I will need some minimal additional training to make that next step in someone else’s organization, so I ask that the universe provide the opportunity at little to no cost to me and in a manner that I can easily fit it into my work schedule and life. I foresee this training being more easily accommodated after the first of the year, and after I have nearly mastered my current role.
    • Once I master my current role, and gain the additional training I see that the logical next step is to find a new position with that added training. I know that taking steps forward like that can seem daunting, but it is an important learning experience and I acknowledge that I have done it many times before and will be able to do it again and again until I have mastered each level along the way to running a full community. It will come in time, and I just need to remind myself of that occasionally so that I remain patient with myself and with the process.
      • Here I want to be clear, all these steps are to further my end goal of Owning Atira Community, even if it takes decades. I don’t merely wish to learn how to climb the corporate ladder and work my way up another person’s company. I see other companies, careers, and jobs (even my massage work) as real life training to reach my life purpose, and work toward my life goal. I trust that the divine will put people in my life that can help me accomplish that, with the understanding that at some point I may have a job just like they hold now, maybe with the same company, maybe a different company. The company is of less concern to me, the goal of learning what I need to learn and making the money I need to make are of more importance.
      • That which betters me, and helps me help my family and others, is of utmost importance. I want to be the best I can be for my ultimate goal of having a self-sustaining charitable-community/company to better this world in the name of the Divine.
    • I know God supports my end desire, and so he supports my steps to getting there, Everything will come in proper timing and easily for me to acknowledge and carry out. The divine, the universe will provide if I trust.
  3. My vision for my relationship and family is:
    • I love my husband, and want to do better at showing it. He deserves that, because he has given everything he could to me. He has given me the best of himself repeatedly over the last 14 years, and literally saved my life more times than I can count. The challenges I see him face, I know well and I wish more than anything that we both could feel adequate in our familial roles.
    • I still want family- bigger and more supportive than just my husband is able to accomplish. I think it would go a long ways to helping us both feel more adequate, enabling us to relax into knowing there are more hands and more dollars to spare. I know that the people we have attempted that with had similar wishes and desires, but for many reasons not needing stated here, it just didn’t work.
      • I look forward to finding the people that do fit our needs, mesh with us optimally, and have the same desires, and hold the same level of flexibility and forgiveness for general lapses on anyone’s part. We’re all in this game called life, learning how to get through, and mistakes will get made, none of them are the end of the world, but that has to be acknowledged on all sides. The ball can and will get dropped, but someone has to be willing to pick up the pieces and help to put them back together. That is family. Sticking together and helping each other pull up even in adversity, knowing that acting in the good of the family will eventually pay off in furthering the success of the family- be it more love, happiness, success, or prosperity.
        • Sometimes being selfish means finding a way to align your needs with a greater cause. (Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak). I’d love to have a family full of people that can do that.
    • I want to spend more time with my children and have days off, while still making more than enough.
      • As I’ve said several times I would go nuts if I just stayed home with kids, that is my version of aligning selfishness with working for the greater good. Right now that means working 7 days a week and having every evening to be with kids. However, I would love to get to a point in my wage earnings that I could comfortably work 4- 10 hour days and have part or all of the other 3 for kids, I think that is my happy medium-nearly ideal. Because, right now I work 6-10 hour days with a 7th shorter one, and I still count my blessings for the evenings I spend with them, but do get down for wishing I had more time with them. I also tend to have a shorter fuse when I work too many hours, so 4 long days is more manageable than 6 long days.
      • Ultimately that means higher dollar per hour wages and having to let go of something somewhere. God/the universe will help me straighten that one out in time.
    • More cuddle time, and more fun time. This links back to both bettering my relationship with Nathan, and with the kids, and with finding family. It’s hard to do if there’s no time left to do it. My time equation is out of balance at the moment, but when alignment is found, my time equation will balance with time for fun family activities and time for cuddling everyone. I look forward to that.
    • I want my kids to look back on their childhood and remember the good things and fun times, and realize that I overcame challenges and adversity to help our family have better.
    • I want them to know I ended up being a positive influence in their lives.

And with that I have completed chapter 7 of “The Energy Bus” 17 more chapters to catch up by Tuesday…. if there are more exercises to write down, you’ll get another post from me. Thank you for being patient with me when I’m down, and thank you for reading my blog. I really appreciate the support knowing that there are people out there that find my words at least interesting enough to check in occasionally, and the occasional comment lets me know that my process is helping others at times. For that I am utterly grateful.

Weird, just plain weird.

So I know that God is working on helping me. How I know is things just keep getting stranger by the day. I keep repeating “I see that things are changing, I’m doing my best to trust, and I’ll do whatever you want me to and do my best to see the positive in everything.”

I just wrote last night, but it seems today has brought more twists and turns and I need to process. I have the time because I’m house sitting for a good friend who also happens to be a fellow massage therapist, which means we trade quite frequently. It’s great, her style is very similar to mine, and we mesh well on many levels. Her pooches even love me, so she asked me to sit her dogs knowing it would give me another opportunity to skip some driving. I’m much appreciative. I feel much more rested when my day doesn’t involve 3 hours or more of driving. So that is how I’ve managed to fit in not one, but two blogs this week.

So, that’s not really weird, just amazingly helpful. Where is the weird then?

I got to work with 15 minutes to spare this morning, and knew I needed to punch in about 10 late for having gone over the previous day. I proceeded to leisurely prep for my day knowing I was essentially working off the clock, but knowing full well it was my choice. I was essentially going through the craft room seeing what was available for the crafting activity later in the day. I became so engrossed in my explorations finding cool things to work with that I ended up clocking in nearly 30 min late, not just the 10 initially planned. Not a big deal, and I figured my day would provide the opportunity to correct that, which sure enough it did.

That was just a taste of weird. In the crafting activity I set out to provide options, ones that I had seen done at other buildings where I do my massage work. I thought surely that one of them would be welcomed. After laying out all of the supplies and describing the choices, I looked around to a silent room of blank stares. NOTHING! Really!  So, I proceeded with plan B and began walking through how to make a wreath using a simple wire frame. If no one wants to participate, then live action crafting show it is.

About 3/4 of the way through making the wreath a person to my right is grumbling about how she doesn’t think it is going to work or look nice. Then the woman directly across from her starts complaining about why are we just sitting here and not doing anything. I replied directly to her that it was because I brought out materials to do a myriad of crafts and gave 5 specific examples and a room full of adults couldn’t tell me anything they wanted to do. I then explained that they were all adults with opinions and desires, and that I was doing my level best to provide them with enjoyable activities, and that they could provide constructive input and offer suggestions instead of just complaining or sitting like bumps on logs. I then revisited the initial offer choices and asked her directly if she wanted to do any of them, at which point she said no. I said fine then, does anyone want to do any of them. I got 2 responses out of a group of 10 people. SO I proceeded to help the 2 people complete their choice and then moved on to finishing my wreath.

Employees thought it was hilarious because the one that complained the loudest apparently does that to everyone, I then ended up having a discussion with my co-worker about how instead of having comedy hour at my expense they could offer up suggestions or help. She said it really wasn’t like that and they meant no foul- really just finding amusement that I was essentially one of them, being treated the same way by the resident. I said well, I can understand where the humor comes in, but that they could have filled me in on the potentiality of that, and ways that they as staff have learned to diffuse the situation. Reiterating that I am the newbie still and I simply don’t know these things because the faces are still relatively new to me, I simply don’t have a full understanding of their backgrounds yet. She conceded that I had a point, and we came to an understanding of some possibilities of how to catch me up to speed. Also, she did let me know that if Aids are not busy I can ask them to help (something I was unsure of and explained to her that some of my buildings that is off limits and not even possible).

In the end I think that even though I got frustrated it was ultimately a good outcome and the discussion with my co-worker was definitely fruitful.

Later, I ran into the lady that recommended me for the position (now my boss’ boss) and I told her all about it. She said that there will always be those days, and did reiterate that some of those things will die down once I do get a better grasp of the people I am working with. We had a good discussion about many of the factors that contribute to moments like that. She then let me know that the person that switched from my position, to take a position with the other side of the building, didn’t come in for work and that they were again down a person. She confessed that the other employee had gotten overwhelmed with the position she was in, and they didn’t know if she would be back. I gave an apology and said let me know if you need anything. At the end of the day I went back to ask her about my time off request for the December Choir/Orchestra performance, and upon leaving I got a nudge to be more specific about my earlier comment. I told her that I realized it was between them and the employee, but that if the other person wanted their job back I was willing to switch or do whatever was needed by the company to help with that. She asked me if that was affected if it meant working 5 days a week, and my reply was simply I’d make it work. I said that “I just really wanted you (boss/friend) to know that I would be willing to do whatever is needed of me” (echoing my internal dialogue with God). All of this was in knowing that I took the position because of divine influence and I am really doing my best to follow the rabbit trail. As soon as, the words left my mouth I felt the classic tinglies down my spine that have always acknowledged that I did/said the right thing. She then confessed that her and the building director had actually had a conversation about that possibility the previous week, before the employee failed to show for work.

I finished my day out showing the residents, at least that were interested, my favorite show. “Kindness Diaries” on Netflix.  I had talked about it earlier in the day and they were interested. As I showed the first 2 episodes, they were hooked, they actually stayed awake (all but 1) and they would comment on things that were going on in the show. It may have helped I served cake and tea while watching the 2nd one. Surprisingly, my complainer from earlier became quite chipper and content. It also helped my mood at lot to have a touch of “Kindness Diaries” in my day. Ultimately they were so interested that we ended up watching 5 episodes back to back and having a volley of discussion occasionally.

So, essentially my day had some odd time glitches, an uncomfortable exchange with my charges, and ended with the possibility of getting a sideways promotion and some feel good TV.

I have no idea if I would get a raise, but I do know I would get more hours. It would make for stable adequate income and once we were moved and had finances straightened out (budget), I could begin to slowly eliminate some of my massage work. I’m not sure the extra day a week would be enough income to completely drop all of my massage work, so I probably wouldn’t. Also, there are 3 buildings that I am getting along great in anyway. So those 3 contracts I would probably keep alive and going as long as I could manage. Though it has occurred to me that I need to renew my liability insurance and re-up my CPR certification to keep doing my massage work. So many things, so little time!

I have no idea where this ride is headed, but it seems I keep holding on and finding faith that it is headed toward the great things I’ve asked for, for so many long years. I simply can’t explain the odd synchronicity any other way. I’m just constantly looking for the path of least resistance anymore, and it seems at every turn something strange launches me toward the next interesting step. If nothing else life has definitely gotten more interesting!

Game of life.

I’m hitting a tough stretch in the game of life. 5 days into a 2 week stretch of no whole days off. My butt is dragging bad.

I’ve had to compensate with more thyroid meds. Then it occurred to me that at the new job I’ve been struggling to stay hydrated and get my CBD dose in. I’m at the mercy of the schedule and attempting to squeeze in basic training information into every spare moment. So, essentially where there would normally be a moment to spare here and there for drinks and potty trips, prego snacks/supplements; there isn’t. 

It has meant that my first 3 days there were extremely taxing on my system even though the physical requirements of the job aren’t really that difficult.

I’ve essentially gotten up, driven to work, worked, did my little massage gigs, driven home, and then crashed- 4 days running. I haven’t really seen my daughter but a few min each night. I saw my son 5 min out of the last 4 days, and that was only because he was actually still awake.

So, more chugging. I have invoicing to fit into my partial days off, so I hope I even get a chance to write another post soon. Til a break comes, enjoy your time- you never know if you’ll lose the chance.

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Beyond being one of my favorite songs,  it is a sentiment I hold dear and feel the truth in.  

I have chosen to follow a path with my career in massage therapy that few are willing to endeavor into.  I work with the geratric population, and have for over 4 years. 

My husband has pointed out that many people go into caring for elders for the right reasons,  but few are able to stick with it. He also pointed out that often you see there are those working in nursing facilities because it’s a solid job,  not because that is their preferred choice, and those are always the first to take another line of work.
He told me just last night that it is a wonderful thing I do, because even though it is hard,  I continue to do the work because I recognize the need.   He’s not the first to tell me that.  In fact I’ve heard it thousands of times. Friends tell me, residents tell me I’m going to be so blessed because of what I do for them. Yet, I have trouble believeing it.

For me my work is just that:  providing a necessary service to a needy populace, of which I’m very skilled in providing and well  informed in handling aspects of their situation; mainly as a means to pay my bills.  It’s not physically demanding,  not mentally difficult,  and though it can be emotionally and energetically taxing- even draining at times – there are worse things in the world. I’m simply doing what I know I can and should do.  I don’t feel that makes me special. 

Beyond that,  there are days which I’d  rather not.  Be it I woke up already tired,  I am already slogging through my own emotional muck, or I know it’s a full moon and thus likely to be a horrendously difficult day,  I find myself saying: do I really need to go in today. 

Yet, I nearly always do. 

My days off have been few and far between.  I’ve taken 3 one week vacations for family in the 4 years, I took one month off for the birth of my son, and I can count my sick days using just my fingers. And I’m a contractor,  so there’s been no boss to enforce my attendance, no one to threaten the loss of a job for missing too much work. I simply know I need to do my work,  not just for my bills,  but for those that would miss their massages if I was gone. 

But there is something else that keeps me going,  keeps me helping.  I don’t know what to call it for certain.  I’ve had people reference being a Death Doula. I don’t know if I like that label.  I know that whatever it is, my mom had it too.

What am I taking about?  Well I have a sense of when someone is about to pass. My mom did too. She used to talk about how people acted and spoke before they passed away.  She’d said there were times that she swore she’d seen  a ghost visit someone and within days they’d pass.  There were hundreds of stories she’d told me growing up. She spent over 20 years working as an LPN in nursing homes, she had plenty of them. Most of her stories she knew that someone was within a week of passing, and a few stories she would tell,  people  were hours to a couple of days from passing  when she got the knowing. 

For me though,  it’s less reliable.  Maybe because I have less experience yet,  or because I see my residents less often (once a week, instead of daily). Regardless,  I still seem to have the sense. Though sometimes there’s a bit of a delayed reaction.

Often I find myself realizing after the fact that I’ve had what I’ve come to refer to as “the goodbye talk”, and usually anywhere from a few  days to 6 weeks after the talk, the resident passes.  I have numerous examples,  but some  come to mind more readily. Here’s a couple (for HIPPAA reg.s I’ve changed names):

My most memorable was a retired priest I’ll  call Fred. He never did want me to work with him.  Be it pride, or his training,  he just didn’t want a massage.  Every visit was accompanied by “go away” or “leave me alone” or fist shaking.  Once he actually made contact with my shoulder in the closest thing to a punch he could muster.  Most of the time he would eventually give in and let me work.  Finally one day after a good fist shake,  I sat down, and confession style told him essentially that I wasn’t going away.  I said that I  needed to pay my bills and I would give massages to him because it was requested.  Followed with “there’s only 2 ways out of getting my massages, and only one of them would be to move out of the building”. I didn’t finish the rest of the sentence,  because death was simply implied.

  One week later he passed away, the night before I was due to see him again.

Then there was Miss M. I had been seeing her  for 2 years,  unable to stand, unable to speak,  could not feed herself,  could not use a toilet,  every action was  provided to her. When I worked with her I had to rely on facial expressions to tell if I was using too much pressure,  and she could only take the lightest of touch.  I knew she was miserable. I always talked to her  when I worked.  Telling her what I was doing,  telling her about the weather,  small talk.  One day though I interjected  my perspective on her situation.  Telling her: I see you are always in pain,  & I’m hardly helping.  Your family will miss you dearly, but that’s inevitable.  Everyone greives when they loose family,  but it’s impossible to live forever.  If you’re in as much pain as I believe you are,  you should just let go.  You’re suffering will not make their greif any less later…. 

She passed away two weeks later.  

I think I’ve just had another talk like that.  Though I’m not certain.  My buddy Jim, I’ve worked with for a couple of years as well, and I’ve seen him twice a week for over a year now.  We usually talk about a lot of things including politics,  & I’ve done just about every other type of caregiver thing for him that’s possible. I see a lot of my Dad in Jim, and feel close to him like father-daughter. Well this week’s first visit was on a relatively good day when everything was going smoothly. Yet, when I got to him I suddenly felt the urge to go on a tangent politically.  Jim is a Republican but has said he doesn’t like Trump. Anyway,  I asked “Do you have a contingency plan for when everything goes to crap, because I don’t?” He said “What do you mean?”. I replied to the effect that both Trump & Hillary are out for money and that I highly doubted either one of them would do anything to help the American people,  but both would pass laws to help their businesses. I followed with that they would probably screw the financial system,  taxes, and medical system for the average joe because that would make them more money. & I explained that I knew people  thinking about heading to either Canada or South America & I had no idea what I’d do.  … He repeated several times “I’d never thought of it that way.” Then on Friday when I went to see him,  he was very low energy,  could hardly talk,  was saying he felt like he was dieing and couldn’t catch his breath.  Everything was hyper sensitive and he hurt everywhere.  It even appeared that he had blood in his urine when I helped him out of the restroom.  I spoke with the lead nurse and she explained they were aware of everything and doing everything they could,  and she reminded me that they were limited because he had a DNR on file.

Now, I don’t know for certain that he’s on  his way out.  What I do know is I’ve told him: “I’m not afraid of death.  I’m afraid of pain, suffering, lack of finances,  being homeless,  many things,  but not death.” I also know that I care for this person like my own dad,  and hate to see him in pain. I also know that the facility he’s in does have limitations in his care because of government regulations on pain medications and his own DNR.

 And with everything I  know I’d rather he find his way out/home as peacefully as possible, rather than continue to suffer. I hate more than anything to see another human being suffer. So it’s a bitter-sweet knowing that his transition is sooner than later.  

Does it mean I look forward to my job? 

– No.

Does it mean I hate my job? 

– No.

It simply is.  

Whether I’m Special or not.  Whether I’m different or not.  Whether I’m blessed or not (I have yet to see the blessings by the way). 

It just is.

I will continue to get up and go into my buildings multiple days a week,  weeks on end, years even,  until something spectacular changes my world and relieves me of my duties. I will continue to be there for those that need me, and say  goodbye to each of them in their time. It seems it’s just what I  do.

Blessed Be Each and Every One of Them. 

Llama chase  fail.

Today was a day of Llama Chase. It started as most days slow but steady.  I overslept only by an hour,  but as I woke,  I kept thinking:  we’re not going to get anything done today. (More on that in a bit).

 I pulled up my calender and began devising a game plan for the day, as I was speaking with Nathan about the day I just kept saying I don’t think we’ll have enough time to get done what I’d hoped to. He said we’ll give it a shot,  do the best we can,  & cover up what doesn’t get finished.  He told me go get dressed and he’d  fix breakfast quick. 
So I started getting kids situated & was about to pull out my clothes.  He said breakfast was ready & immediately exclaimed “Why is there an atv  in the driveway?” followed very quickly with “That’s the llama, why is she out!?”

I was so startled I began the chase wearing only a sarong. No shoes, nothing but a sarong. As I clutched the sarong closed I began to run after JD, the lady llama, trying in vain to guide her back to the entrance of the pasture. I yelled for Anya to go get Ashley,  Jennifer’s eldest daughter. At that point I took off up the hill for toward the old pasture, now owned by someone else. I gave up Chase as Anya & Ashley came back out.  I told them where she ran & said I needed to get shoes to help more. 

I ran back, threw on shorts & tank top & shoes in record time. 

As I made it up the hill Ashley informed me that they had got her part way back & she split for the trees. She said we needed more people. We told Nathan to take Ian over to Jennifer & help us herd the llama.

2 laps around the 10 acres of old pasture later,  the llama took off down the road. All of our attempts to catch her failed,  including trying my scooter, trying riding the horse,  & blocking the driveways with vehicles. 

Another hour later she was on the property of the neighbor a half mile away. He pulled out his atv, explaining she’d been there since last night & he was the one that had run her back 2 hours earlier.  We had no idea she was even out because everyone got home late last night.

Anyway another ATV chase. Still nothing.  The neighbor took phone numbers & said he’d try again later & call when he did.

At that point some of us needed to leave for KC, so stuff was gathered & we left: exhausted, hungry, & thirsty. 

Needless to say,  my intuition was right.  Absolutely nothing was accomplished,  nothing got done.  

….

Now what was it we’d intended to do?

Finish the floor section we had started last week. We’d spent 14 hours one day pulling out 3 layers of patches, one of which was filled with a brown carpet remnant, sheets & yoga mat.  Cutting out old metal piping,  & started laying new joists. 

In that process I’d managed to accidentally grab the tail of a Prairie King Snake as it slithered out of the old drain plumbing. I know they’re harmless,  but it startled me bad enough to squeal for a couple of minutes.

By the end of that day I was so tired & dirty, I  gave up on the idea of finishing until another day.  As Nathan put it we are not a team of construction workers,  it’s just the 2 of us.  We did pretty good,  & left it with the chip board just laying loosely over the open section. 
…. That was last Tuesday, & it’ll be another week until we accomplish the task. Why?

….

Work. 2-  14 hour days last week, with a 16 hour day in between.  Then Saturday & Sunday our schedule was as followed:

Saturday:

5am: leave for Topeka,

7:30 begin volunteering for Dog Show as fundraiser for homeschool group activities

5pm finish with Dog Show day 1, dinner on way home

8pm home, sleep

1am Sunday up for paper route

6:30am finish paper route in Eagleville, potty break,  then head 2.5 hours back to Topeka

9am arrived at Dog Show 1.5 hr. later than planners wanted us there, better late than never.

The ring I was stewarding finished judging at 3pm. Other people including Nathan were still busy. I sat down with Ian & began to get super tired & nauseous. By the time Nathan was done I was slap happy & heavy. Had trouble walking back to the car. Again stopped for dinner on the way home.

8:30 home, put chickens to bed,  then crawled to bed myself.  Whew. 

That was last night,  & now you know why I overslept an hour this morning!

This week is set to be very similar, so hence a week until we’ll get back to the floor. 

But we will, we always keep chugging on.
With that here’s some pics of the floor work & dog show.

Quiet night

image

That’s the road in front of us.  No worries,  husband, Nathan, is driving.

We’re headed to our paper route.  Yep,  I said it,  we’re adults driving a route. I didn’t know it until we met Jen (who is giving us the trailer), but rural paper routes pay decent.  Right now we’re Sunday only,  but the paper just offered me a 7 day route,  4 hours a day that pays better than my  elderly massage stuff.
Can’t pass something like that up.  Between the 2 paper routes,  I’ll make  double  what I used to make with  just massage, & if I can bear to keep doing massage with  the old folks,  we’ll make about 5 grand a month.  Numbers I’ve never seen.

Our little family has had it hard in the last  decade,  and it’s not for the lack of trying.

I have a BA in art, & been trained & certified as a massage therapist,  & been trained & licensed as a class B professional driver. To this point I’ve worked in all 3 fields and never broken 30grand a year. The best money to this point has been driving transit & handicap buses. A close second was when I did massage for a chiropractor,  which was ok hourly wages,  until he nearly worked me to death- and I fell asleep at the wheel headed home- I quit.
Enough was enough then too, and I struck out on my own.  Opened a small office & ran Groupon’s/LivingSocial’s, & barely made ends meet until I solidly got into several nursing centers. Then I had my baby,  closed my office, & just did nursing centers. Things were tight, but I could pay our bills & not have  a 40+ hour work week, which was vital with a brand new baby.

I love Anya,  but she was not a birth for me.  Her mom left Nathan when Anya was just a baby,  & we spent 8 years driving back  & forth  every 2 weeks to see Anya. Then Anya’s mom died of cancer, & the driving & those costs ceased  because we got full custody.

Those were challenges in their own right,  but not on the scale of giving birth & trying to work with a newborn.

Why did I have  to work?  I was the only one that could.  Anya’s mom leaving,  in my opinion literally broke Nathan’s heart. It may seem like a stretch to some,  but for me it’s real.  4 years into driving for Anya,  Nathan got sick. He had/has an enlarged heart, high blood pressure,  & out of control diabetes.  Doctors orders: don’t  work, apply for disability,  watch your salt & numbers.  We did that & so much more.  I’m confident he’ll live many more  years because of all the work we did. Did we ever get disability? NO. So, I get to support us.   Although,  when Anya’s mom died of cancer we did get benefits for her,  which have hepled more times than I can count. Never the less those benefits rightfully belong to her,  & I hope to be able to replace what I’ve used  one day. Regardless of the benefits,  I’m really the income for the family. I make sure we have  healthy food,  warm clothes,  & as comfortable of a home as I can create.

That last one was falling short with the bug infested apartment, so now the trailer journey. Again, enough is enough.  I know I can do better,  so I will.

With the apparent strength in that statement,  there has been many a metaphorically dark night.

I’ve struggled with depression, literally since I was  12 years old.  I currently hold western medicine responsible for that with  new knowledge of  my thyroid woes. Regardless,  I’ve had one emotional struggle, followed by another. I talk about them now, in hopes of giving others solace that they are not alone. I’ve had many semicolons in my life,  when I thought things were over. It can happen for others,  but it’s not always sunshine & roses, and that perspective can sometimes actually make matters worse.  Never tell someone that is suicidal that “they just need to snap out of it,  it’s not as  bad as you think”. That’s essentially telling an already suicidal person that they are crazy,  mentally ill. And though that may be technically the case,  it’s not helpful in preventing suicide. I KNOW!

It’s better to give love & support, let them know you care,  that you’re there,  offer to help find resources if it’s needed.  And most  importantly,  a shoulder to cry on,  that it’s ok to cry, just let it out. That’s what’s helpful.

In every case where I’ve been most lost, that is what has mattered.

There has been twice that I’ve literally almost lost the battle.  Once when I first met Nathan,  we were rural.  I drove myself to a small lake nearby,  in the middle of nowhere,  corn fields. I found myself sitting in the car on the beach listening to mice chewing on the insulation of the car’s roof.  Thinking I cold just hit the gas, drive in & end everything. Finally,  I broke down sobbing,  fell out of the car,  & sat there crying for an eternity. When I finally got too cold, I crawled back into the driver’s seat & went home. Nathan told me he didn’t know where I’d gone, that he knew something was horribly wrong,  but he didn’t know what to do.

The second was just after my son was born, & my thyroid had fallen WAY off. I didn’t  know that’s what was happening, I just found myself screaming and screaming  at “God”. Finally,  headed home from work one day,  I was screaming at “God” again, & when I got to the Missouri river bridge,  I actually found myself thinking of driving off the side,  to the extent that I even headed for the shoulder of the highway.  Luckily,  whatever stupid self preservation mechanism we have  as humans finally kicked in & I righted  the vehicle & cried my way  home. When I got home crying,  Nathan just held me.

Again,  I offer my story for a sense of solace for those in the midst of the dark,  & for perspective for  those trying to help someone who is in the dark.  It can shift,  change for the better.  The semicolon of life can be found.  Hang in there.