Show & Tell

The Caregiver Next Door – Free Digital Ink Resources

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Will You Say Yes? (PDF)
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Curated Cannabis Information & Resources (PDF)
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a Cannabis (aka Marijuana) Decree (PDF)
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What About the Kids? (PDF)
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The Caregiver Next Door – Healing Extremes Podcast

Episode Number & Title (with total run time)

Links take you to an episode post with a player, a download link, and show notes.

21 – Live Cannabis for Caregivers Session (virtual) for April (07:45)
20 – Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker (05:17)
19 – OPN: How to Get Your Ohio MMJ “Card” (07:09)
18 – Yes. They Do. Women Grow. (and men help) (08:11)
17 – Steve DeAngelo – Crusading Cannabis Entrepreneur (09:39)
16 – Normal is as NORML Does (06:33)
15 – Headspace (10:57)
14 – Credible Cannabis Education (05:35)
13 – GRO with Zach Guitheus (24:49)
12 – Sensible Bellaire & More with Bill Schmitt Jr. (25:29)
11 – Sensible Logan with Don Keeny (20:44)
10 – Decrim Ohio with Chad Thompson (34:45)
09 – Ohio: The Good, Bad & Ugly (08:53)
08 – The State of the State (07:24)
07 – Mastermind Hotseat Q&A (11:54)
06 – Bonnie’s Ohio Medical Marijuana Rant (03:46)
05 – Intention (06:56)
04 – Farm to Market (07:00)
03 – Endocannabinoid Self-Care (08:04)
02 – Transitions FM (07:31)
01 – Come Out (07:28)
00 – Coming Out Green? (24:30)

Disclosure: As a patient advocate, adult consumer, and concierge consultant for cannabis businesses, Mark Horn, believes in and fully supports safe and regulated cannabis (aka marijuana) access for adults everywhere.

Comments or questions? Here’s how to connect directly with Mark.

Heal & Renew: Part 5

my-soul-bridge-heal-renewRead Heal & Renew Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,  Part 4

Lack of connecting with other people on a social level tears at the physical and mental side of you too.

If you’re used to attending a church or other social gatherings on a regular basis, chances are those events will go by the wayside when you provide care.

In fact if your loved one needs any advanced level of personal care you won’t be able to leave them alone at all.

Even getting out to take care of errands close to home will be tough to do.

And yes, you will begin to see those short trips when you can get away to the drug store, the supermarket or a coffee shop as the most important social events of your life.

But those trips will only happen if you make an arrangement with someone to stay with your family member for a short time so that you can have time away.

Just getting a hug from another person will turn into something you will crave even if you are a card carrying introvert.

It would seem that we as being humans have a deep need and desire to have some kind of physical contact with other people on a regular basis.

After all we are social creatures by our very nature aren’t we?

A hug from a friend, family member or even total stranger will often feel like the best medicine you could ever receive.

Spiritual Connects: Part 5

my-soul-bridge-spiritual-connectsRead Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4 of Spiritual Connects

From a self centered place all of this seems to emerge.

But the questions I ask of me are just as valid for you to ask of you too aren’t they? I hope so.

If those bridges are there for me when I need them the most, then the same holds true for you.

Are they the same bridges that catch my feet or are they only ones specific to your Soul? There I go back into the details.

In life the physical bridges we cross are often ignored. They tend to be nothing but parts of the roads we travel or parts of a path on a walking trail.

Both easily taken for granted until they’re not there.

Only when a particular bridge is not available does that single bridge get our undivided attention.

That’s when we have to seek out or find another bridge to cross over what it is we want to cross over.

Even when the bridge on the road or path is blocked we seldom think of (or give thanks for) the ones who came before us who labored and toiled to put that particular bridge in place.

Often I wonder what a bridge looked like way back in the past when the builder first gave of their own blood, sweat and tears to close some gap from one side to another.

I wonder too about those wise ones among us who created the plans a builder may have used to build a given bridge.

Was the designer a visual artist who saw some negative space as needing to be shaped and formed to build something structurally safe and sound?

Were they an architect who knew long before a bridge could be built that a plan had to be drawn?

Were they a poet only seeking out beauty and flow?

On the care provider road there were many bridges I crossed.

Some of those bridges I was not aware of until writing my Soul Bridge.

Other bridges were instantly evident as soon as my foot landed on that bridge a few years ago.

In those moments of frustration, confusion or anger we have all faced in our care giver walk, something was already present to catch us whether we let it catch us or not.

Cash Flow(s): Part 5

my-soul-bridge-work-cash-flowsRead Cash Flow(s) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4

It would seem I have always been dependent on others to take care of me.

Not always a truth I acknowledge often enough.

There simply are not enough words to express the gratitude for every way in which others have held out a hand to help.

And there can never be any words to communicate how I truly feel.

Money has not been a kind of resource I enjoy. Not for a long time now.

Yes there were at best several times in the not so distant past where I felt okay with money, but those were feelings that did not last.

When I was taking care of my Mom, I continued to fool myself and lie to others (Is letting others believe things you know are not true telling a lie?)

Worse yet? I believed my own lies.

Some optimistic and unrealistic “knowings” became true inside me until they played themselves out. Even if I had not moved from the spot I was already in.

Nothing passed but time. Nothing changed for me from the past of then to the now of now. But I kept telling the lies I allowed myself to believe.

You too? You feel like a fake and an imposter too? Then perhaps it is not just me who is not perfect and well. Perhaps I am not alone any place but in my thoughts.

How many times do we have to repeat the story once the story is changed?

How many times before we move from where we are to where we want to be?

Care giving did not create the financial condition I find myself in. But it takes knowing, even for a moment, that I’ve been playing a mind game with myself for more years than I care to count.

Funny though how unwilling I am to hold onto that thought for very long at all.

Instead I choose to move the rock ahead a little at a time doing what there is to do.

Words get written. Thoughts pour out. Truth of the me inside of me gets questioned. Still the answers can be slow to come.

Looking at nature brings me comfort. She does not work hard at all yet everything gets done.

Everything keeps on. Birds still fly. Flowers still bloom. Seasons give way to seasons. Life flows.

In the big picture of care providing it works that way too. You’re going to be challenged in ways you will be challenged. No more. No less.

All in right timing. All is always in right timing. Indeed there is a perfection in knowing there is no such thing as wrong timing or wrong place.

Even if the past tells you different, all you can do is go forward the best way you can.

Hold on tight to the knowing that this too shall pass.

No. Holding tight is not a spiritual command. It is only a whisper from your Soul.

If you find yourself in poverty, then look for a small hole or crack where something more can come through.

Something which gets you by from this day to the next with a certain faith that this condition too will bring greater good and pass by.

Perhaps that hole, or that crack, in where you see a way out to some better circumstance is in the eyes of an old friend or family member who is there to help.

Receive what they offer with Grace and dignity.

Take the pain you have and give it away to something more able to carry the load.

Life, after all is said and done is meant to happy (and to be lived).

Money is just money. Paper and coins. Money is nothing more than a representation of value and not value itself.

Money is not a reflection of the true value you are. Easy words to write. Easy to say. True none the less.

No matter what you or I believe or what anyone else tells us is true, this too shall pass.

No matter how much it all feels like it won’t. This too will always pass.

When your truth is laid out there for everyone to see, when the end of the rope is right there in sight, it will pass.

Look with different eyes, feel with a different heart and accept that what you see and feel may be something worth trying.

Where you find you in the money game right now is where you are supposed to be.

Go and try again.

But this time perhaps it is time to try differently.

Mind Games: Part 5

face-in-handsRead Mind Games Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4

No, you’ll never have to do anything radical at all.

Simply look in a place you’ve maybe not looked in for a very long time.

Can you go back to the days when your dreams and imagination actually served you? Of course you can.

With practice you can move those thoughts and dreams anyplace you choose.

Yes. With a little practice possibility appears.

Soon to follow on the heels of possibility new results show up.

Imagine. Brand new results from the same thoughts you never felt capable of changing before.

Is this magic or even real at all?

What if it is not? Does that mean the thoughts that plague and hurt are not real either?

If the possibility exists, then yes, this too could be true.

Sometimes it takes a while for any shift to take a hold.

For me it depended on how much those thoughts of how things would never change or get better took hold.

If they were the edge of the sword where I sought out pain and victim hood then that is where I stayed.

Only you can know for you which edge you’re on. You have to figure it out for you.

But if the edge I looked for was the one where there was not as much pain, and I could feel the slightest bit grateful for what I could do now for someone I loved, then the game did change for awhile.

Thoughts would then do what they all do. Both the good and the bad would build on the ones like themselves. They seek out their own.

After a while I began to experiment with this new found power.

If good is looking for good, or bad is looking for bad, then the thoughts are just the vehicle that delivers those packages good or bad.

In and of themselves the thoughts were just thoughts and I got to choose the package they each carried. Yes indeed. If it was to be then it was up to me.

Did trumpets ring out and the chorus of angels begin to sing? No. Not at all. But I did begin to feel better in my caregiver shoes.

I did begin to see those stress filled moments on the path as just moments that would pass. Moments that with practice did not hurt so much at all.

Mind games it seemed could actually bring something that felt good.

Not always though since care giving can feel like a blitzkrieg of emotions going on for hours at a time.

But even in those episodes I realized that by simply changing the way I looked at things made those things change.

Seeing even a microscopic view of any gratitude to claim made the next minute bearable. Then the next and the next.

At first no mind games will ever appear easy to play. But then you start to understand the rules are just thoughts too. They’re all just thoughts you tell you.

If you have been telling yourself those non-working rules all this time, then the same possibilities from earlier could be true here too.

Your rules could just be made up stories. Ones that aren’t true.

As a depression or down time grabs you, just let go. Let it pass through. Allow it all to be in a flow. That’s all. Allow.

You are not the broken Soul your thoughts insist that you are.

What you go through each and every moment is you no matter how unpleasant the illusion appears to be.

You are already whole. Hold onto that you at any level you can.

Being a caregiver is who you are now. Or it was something you used to be.

All of your experience will carry on. Always. Right now others are just starting a caregiver journey, both givers and receivers, still others are already there.

Perhaps some are half way and don’t see an end in sight. Light at the end of the tunnel is there but just around the bend.

For even more the caregivers trip has yet to appear. They’ve not taken their first step yet.

For some there will be no path of the care giver at all. They will bypass that step entirely or life has another track for them to follow.

We each get what we most need. For what purpose I cannot say. Why is unimportant.

Your mystery may or may not ever be solved.

To be honored with being a care provider is a priceless gift. One you can’t buy and one you often feel powerless to control.

Inside the care provider journey things will be tough. Yes they will.

If it is your journey to take though, go in with dignity and grace.

Go knowing the trip is not one you will ever take alone. There must always be a giver and a receiver. Always.

When the light does appear from around the last bend, keep on going and know your time will soon end on the care provider journey.

Your turn is almost done.

Know too that your life and the lives of those you love and those who love you, will forever change.

Nothing will ever be the same but only because nothing ever stays the same anyway. This you know.

Your thoughts are always yours.

Nobody can think for you. Nobody can ever play the same mind games you’ll play inside of you. It is your choice how they will play out.

Do they still discourage or depress and hold you down on this day, tomorrow and the next day or do they bring you to choose a better story to tell?

Perhaps a story of soul bridges already built.

Perhaps some story of courage, or of love, or of life and the joy from moments in time so necessary and filled with pain that even your ego self cringed.

Yes thoughts become things so be grateful to have a choice as to which things they will become. Yes you will find a way. Your way is different but not as much as you think.

Let your thoughts go how you want them to go.

But what if you choose “wrong”? What if you “fail”? Stop.

Breathe in those times when you were or were not, or you did or did not and remember you’re still here.

You survived. You got through.

Drink in those thoughts from whatever pool you want to choose.

Use them all up and know that “wrong” or “fail” are only words in some story you tell and nothing more.

Mind games we play flow through us often from sources which remain unknown.

As the caregiver though opportunities to discover the sources can show up as clues to perhaps solve the mystery.

Like tiny trickles starting high in the mountains you will see them turn to streams then raging rivers and torrents destined for the sea. You will see the cycle complete.

Back to the sky to the mountains to the trickles, streams, rivers and oceans again and again.

Scouring clean every surface each drop touches a little at a time until mountains move, canyons are carved, river banks crumble away and the oceans receive it all particle by particle. Bit by bit.

One drop of water and one grain of sand at a time. Beautiful.

Thoughts are like that too.

Like that trickle which delivers the stream, your thoughts will be your best friends and your most fearsome enemies at the same time.

They’ll determine a journey of infinite possibilities regardless of any situation you are in.

They will also create the results you do or don’t want from those same possibilities so enjoy them all well.

In the Crucible: Part 5

old-man-old-timesRead In the Crucible Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4

Then the moment subsides. Leaving only a residue of what was delivered.

No snap. No crackle. No pop.

Only a slight skim of a scum for you to observe closer.

Just enough to deepen the mystery and add another piece to the puzzle you sometimes tell yourself is already complete.

Yes this care provider ride is a rollercoaster and you never climb the same hill twice.

What you did not see the last time comes back into view. What you refused to see does too.

Only with a vengeance as swift and cold as an executioners axe slicing through air a half a second before it slices through you.

Then there comes a moment (you learn to gather these in and stack them) when the beauty of life rings true. All feels perfect.

Even though the lens misses nothing, all feels well.

Something is now bigger. Larger in scope than you and your situation. You know.

Those fragments when you are nothing more than an outside in observer who is simply observing you.

Those eternal fragments when time stands still.

Timeless time in the knowing of nothing but All. Ways. Love.

Then you wonder again about why you? Why now?

Only this time there is no mystery involved. Perhaps there never was.

You know beyond your knowing of anything. You know beyond the knowing of the knowing of anything at all.

Your stacked moments get released and all you can do is to just be grateful for it all (and all is a really big word).

Often that is exactly where your Soul Bridges come in.

No. This is not about a religion (for some reason John Lennon is singing in my head right now) or any particular belief systems.

This work is all about being humans, just like you and me, and opening up to some small possibility for another way of seeing.

Any and all results are entirely up to you.

It is interesting to note that this really is nothing new at all.

These types of conversations and bridges have been around ever since human kind began recording a written history by drawing on cave walls.

Much of it may feel new though even as the words and drawings fade away because inside the crucible you now look and listen more closely.

Soul is the word I choose to use simply because it is the most commonly accepted word used to reference an aspect of the being human which is beyond the physical.

Soul represents common ground across thousands of belief systems.

As the oldest and most ubiquitous word it feels right. Any more than that as a definition is for you to choose.

Bridges need no explanation. They represent a way of moving from one place to another which spans some kind of gap, valley, body of water or some other obstacle in your path.

There are big bridges, small ones, ones for vehicles and ones just for your feet. Chances are you cross dozens of them on a regular basis and never notice they’re there.

Being conscious of bridges, for the most part, has faded away from our minds like cave drawings have unless our attention has been drawn to them as an object other than the familiar.

Being a care giver can be that attention focal point.

It seems that in many ways you often end up looking for ways to cross metaphorical bridges from here to there.

Maybe it is a new skill you have to learn like using a gait belt to make lifting and moving your loved one easier and safer.

Or the bridge you look for may be one you need to find for the right words to reassure your now childlike parent all is well, that they’ll get through this, that it is okay to try one more time.

Or that yes, even this too shall pass.

Funny how often you find exactly what you’re looking for when you consciously look.

In the crucible is like that. Underneath a magnifying glass or a microscope what do you see?

You see that which you could not be seen. You see in a different way. But not always in a pleasant or unpleasant way.

Just in a different way.

Sometimes that is all the urging you need to take any next step on that Soul Bridge of yours.

Knowing that you will see something different or some unknown sight which seems foreign at first glance but becomes more familiar as your attention is placed upon it.

You know others were here before you. They prepared a way and they made it across.

Even though there are parts of your life you’d rather forget than face again, in the crucible you have come home.

You need never be anyone other than you. There is a warmth and comfort in that.

But what changed? Yes your circumstances did but this goes beyond circumstance.

This change is seeing what you thought was you in a completely new way.

Heal & Renew: Part 4

my-soul-bridge-heal-renewRead Heal & Renew Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

In the physical, being a care giver takes a certain toll on your body.

You lift and you hold onto the person you’re caring for to support them at every turn.

You help them move from point A to point B. You lend a hand so they can sit up. Or to transfer them from a wheel chair to a bed and back again.

You are constantly moving for one reason or another.

Even if your loved one is small in stature and light weight, you subject yourself to taking thousands of steps each day to help them physically move through their day.

At the same time you’re doing laundry, keeping house, cleaning, cooking and handling the day to day things we all do regardless of care giving.

Life and the living of life still goes on.

After I was a care provider for a while I realized how hard Mom worked when we were growing up. She was a house wife her entire life and never worked outside of the home.

It is funny how things often come full circle and we find ourselves in the exact set of circumstances we never considered we would be in.

Roles as parent and child switch.

Similar to how the toll gets taken a little bit each day on mental faculties while being a care giver, the physical strain also stacks up a little bit at a time. Constantly.

Add unhealthy lifestyle choices into the mix like smoking, poor diet, excessive amounts of coffee, substance abuse plus other factors and the body breaks down faster.

Do you see this slow deterioration of the physical coming?

Unfortunately no. At least not as quickly as you need to.

Soon you notice an ache that was not there the day before or a pain that has set in and won’t go away.

Ibuprofen can become your drug of choice and to calm the heart burn a roll of antacid tablets is never very far away.

You are slowly turning into a physical wreck. But somehow you will convince yourself that you’ll manage and you adjust.

You learn how to be smarter about how you invest the precious energy you have.

You learn better methods of lifting and transferring and better ways to get daily chores done too.

You figure out a few better food choices to put in the grocery cart and as slowly as you started to fall apart, you can also start to fall together again.

Adjustments and re-calibrations become as much a part of your daily routine as making sure your loved one takes all the meds they’ve been prescribed on time.

Much of what you have dealt with that was tough to do becomes second nature now.

It would seem the demons of care giving are taking a break for the time being and you are very grateful.

Looking back for me it all came down to the choices I made.

To choose to feel better often trumped a wish to feel good.

I could simply feel better if I chose to drink one cup less of coffee.

I could also choose feel better if I had even a brief conversation everyday with anyone outside of the home.

Often a neighbor, a clerk at the store or a quick phone call with a family member made me feel better too.

Having some kind of a romantic relationship helped too. Even if it is the fleeting kind of thing. Nothing more than a friendship that went a little further.

Later on though, all the demands of the care giver would make those an impossibility too.

There wasn’t time and it can get to a point where, like so many experiences outside of care giving, it was no longer important.

So many times I wanted someone to understand what I was going through.

Not so they could validate, commiserate or justify but because then at least you would know that another human understood.

To understand that in this often confining world as a care giver there was a kindred spirit who had been there too can help because they knew what you dealt with all to well.

Not dealing with the stresses is simply abandoning what your body needs.

It is too easy to say “No” to something that feels like more work or just one more thing to do.

This you justify by telling yourself you must give your all to take care of your family member.

Slipping into a victim mindset, like I said earlier in my Soul Bridge is not difficult to do. Not at all.

There are also times when it is easy to self-medicate for the stress.

Likely not the best of choices given your responsibility of caring for another person.

I will admit though that late at night after Mom was in bed and I had time to myself, I would smoke a little pot now and then.

It helped me change perspectives and to sleep a little better some nights.

If you had any recreational substances of choice you were partial to before becoming the care giver, using them probably stayed with you after care giving started.

I was not (and am still not) a heavy marijuana user and I’m not much of a drinker at all.

I can see though how easy it would be for someone to depend on something for temporary stress relief.

Tobacco and caffeine were highest on my abuse list. Weed was something friends would give me every once in a while to take the edge off.

While the cigarettes and coffee were things most people accept readily as main stream, they added to the stress and not caring for myself more than caring.

Once you start letting your self care go, it makes it easier to keep letting it go the next time and the next.

You know you’re not giving yourself the attention you need but again you just don’t care.

Those mind games you can find yourself caught up in on a daily basis don’t only affect the mind.

They tear your body down too.

Spiritual Connects: Part 4

my-soul-bridge-spiritual-connectsRead Spiritual Connects Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3

When my Sister and Brother returned they knew she was gone.

We called who needed to be called and started the process of burying the dead.

While those around me mourned and cried and let their emotion out, I could not.

My feelings were different. I had another perspective.

She was not suffering on this earthly plain and I was relieved.

Some part of me too was grateful I would not be providing care any longer.

I know that sounds selfish but it was what it was. I was tired both mentally and physically.

I did not know who I was anymore.

After living inside of the crucible, I no longer cared about what came next for me. It did not matter. Mom had been well taken care of in her own home.

Now the being human of the funeral experience was at hand.

All funerals feel sacred in my heart. They are certainly spiritual events too.

While the rest of my family had all of their families around them, I had no one. None of my children attended and my friends from all over the world offered as much support as possible.

My two closest friends who were able to show up were also going down care giver paths.

There was still that sense of relief for me on that day, but I could not cry.

Even to this day, as I write these words I have not mourned the death my own Mother.

I want to cry. I want the tears to flow freely but it is like I have forgotten how.

Am I really that cold hearted or jaded?

Am I really that dysfunctional that my tears will not come?

Again I do not know. Perhaps visiting the cemetery one day will be a catalyst that allows me to let go.

Then again is this what is left over from the care giver stress or from some post traumatic goop that clogs up my very Soul?

More than likely it is the human side and Soul brings me closer every day to healing. As I’ve said before this all happened a few years ago.

I have to wonder what, if anything, will get me back to whole.

All I want is to be happy.

Writing my Soul Bridge has that selfish drive at it’s deepest core.

My desire is to heal and recover more than anything. And if I can help someone else to heal, I’m sure that will help me heal too.

I know my challenges are not just from being a care provider as most of them have been here longer than I remember.

But being the care giver has allowed me to see those challenges in a new light.

Perhaps too it has been this spiritual side of the experience and the numerous journeys on roads I never knew which brings me to this point.

Over the past few years I have been gently aware of seeking out my own Soul.

Why? Because it would appear that what I choose label as my Soul simply wants to be found.

All the clues are there and show up at exactly the right time.

Every place I seem to step there are these bridges that support me.

Inside darkness and the light they are there. In the fog they are there too. It feels to me as if they’ve always been there.

There are even times when it feels like they appear under foot in those very same moments the step is being taken.

In the very same moments those bridges feel eternal, like they were built longer than long ago.

Now the plot thickens on this spiritual path.

If the Soul Bridges I call mine are always there, and have always been waiting, why do I question if they will show up when I need them the most?

Why are they ever present even in what feels like the most dire of present moment circumstance?

Why are they there even when I don’t know that I need them to be?

Are they simply waiting patiently for my foot to fall?

Are they still there if the step does not get taken?

I know. Way more questions than answers.

All I can say about that though is; “I do not know the answers”.

Mysteries? Yes I know them well. Intimately to say the least.

Perhaps those mysteries too are mind games. Nothing more. But they are damn persistent.

In my experience this is the evidence that shows up.

Repetitive and often gentle nudges to give even a little attention to what keeps showing up.

Beauty is in the details for me.

Maybe that is why seeing the big picture of those bridges already existing and ready to carry the load is so tough.

I am more interested in the beauty showing up in the details.

And the mystery goes on.

Cash Flow(s): Part 4

my-soul-bridge-work-cash-flowsRead Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 of Cash Flow(s)

Even with changing life priorities over time, you have got to have the skills needed to earn enough money to live your life.

Hopefully in the way you want to live.

For some that will require a larger dollar amount and cash flow on hand than what others may need.

And you may already have skills.

If not, then you likely do have some passion for something which may pay.

Yes. Like I said before, one of the skills you come out of the care giving experience with is that of being a caregiver.

Personally it is not work I ever want to do again. But if that was the last and only choice I had to make money to live then I’d give it a shot.

Not to long ago though, I would’ve rather died than do that type of work ever again. Seriously.

However if that is exactly the work you love to do that gets you paid too go for it.

Since you’ve been in the real world of providing care, you have noticed subtle details or specific parts of the work which could actually create opportunity to generate an income.

Are there parts of providing care, on any level, where you see a way to make something better, easier or safer?

Like so many of your care giving experiences, financial aspects are often more easily observed when they are in the twenty twenty hindsight moments.

Why is it that after the fact things are so much clearer than when you were in the middle of living them?

Especially if you were also responsible for the financial needs of the care receiver. Double edged sword. Again.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it states that you’ve got to cover the basics of living first. Food, clothing and shelter.

If that was something you also dealt with as an acute and ever present challenge when giving care, then it is likely you never found any room to think about the other needs of life.

You were busy just trying to get by.

You were in survival mode and that was the best you could do.

Unfortunately more and more of the people who find themselves as primary caregivers for an aging family member are falling into this category.

People who after their care giver time is over, still find they are in the constant struggle with having enough to eat, warm clothes to wear and a place they can call a home.

If abject poverty was brought to the table when care providing started, that may be a very different story than someone who slides into poverty after becoming the caregiver.

Or finds themselves stuck in poverty after care giving ends.

At least the lifestyle poor may have some working knowledge of what it takes to get by. Doesn’t matter though. Damage is done either way.

Without the basics of a firm financial foundation pain ensues.

I am not sure any statistics exist as proof but I am certain the lives of both the care provider and the receiver are shortened in due course.

All because we humans are indeed the only species on the planet required to pay to live here.

And if you can’t pay then life will be short. Everything else won’t matter. It can’t.

Being in the crucible, depression and all the mind games will not mean anything if all you can do is try to survive.

Any of the points mentioned earlier in the my Soul Bridge story can also morph and then show up as indicators of true first world challenges.

And having those true first world challenges only showed that you had time to think about them because you already had food, clothes and a place to live.

I don’t have the answers for you.

Often I wonder if I have any answers for myself.

This I do know though. None of us would be able to hang on for very long without others who offer their generosity.

Who offer financial and emotional support in the best ways they know how.

For me, the care providers life and the way I knew it is done.

Now it is time to care for me.

Mind Games: Part 4

face-in-handsRead Mind Games Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

In the big picture of the care provider you cannot go at it alone.

I was fortunate in that my sister and brother were in the picture. No, not as dictators or obstacles but as contributors to our Mothers’ quality of life.

They each knew, at least on some level, some of what it was I had to go through and help often was there to provide me a little breathing room from time to time.

Perhaps your situation is different. Perhaps everything is fully on you.

That makes it even more important to see with your other eyes. Eyes which see you seeing you.

Even though we had family agreement in our loved ones care, that didn’t relieve me of a choice I made to be the care provider. All responsibility in the day to day of life still fell to me.

Looking at myself was also only something I could do. My sister could look but she is not me. She dealt with her own challenges.

Same for my brother. He could only see if he looked but all he really saw was himself and what was inside of him.

Even with family on board, ultimately one finds oneself utterly alone with the me, myself and the I.

Scrutiny is an interesting phenomenon in that you always have a choice as to what you see.

You can choose the downside, the turmoil, chaos and confusion on the “why me” side of the looking glass or you can choose to see the reflections and common ground mirrored back from your own eyes.

Looking is always both scary and comforting all at once.

You’ll look though since you are curious to see what is there. Are there mysteries to be solved or just more big buckets of despair, depression and hopelessness?

It is in those micro-moments of time standing still where you’ll make your choices. Where sometimes the biggest decisions you have ever made in your life must be made now.

Decisions that tell you what you suffer inside of that caregivers crucible is only a reflection of you.

And in one more timeless moment of time you get to choose if you are going to finally see that true reflection of you or if you will turn away. Like you may have done many times before.

Will you in fact be the coward again or will you instead be your own saviour?

Certainly by now that one choice is a familiar one isn’t it?

Maybe it is so familiar that the choice gets made by default to reinforce what you still don’t want to be wrong about after all this time.

Your challenge is yours is what you say to yourself. That you’re all alone and only you can suffer what you have to suffer is yet another story you will tell you too.

Is this in some grand spiritual context your Gethsemane story?

Is this the point where you are martyred and a salvation is at hand?

Or is it that same film loop which keeps playing over and over in your mind? That same repeating sequence you have had in the projector for as long as you can remember.

Isn’t it time for a better story of you?

Yes it is.

Mind games are a double edged sword. There is no mystery in knowing them though since they’ve been ever present.

From childhood to now you have been playing mind games with you. Likely you will keep on playing them.

Nothing more or less than a human thing we all do.

As a child they were fun as the very substance of an imagination and dreams.

Where did those thoughts go? Have they all been exhausted and used up or have they simply been misplaced?

For me inside of those games of imagination and dreams it took just one more thought.

If the thoughts are double edged ones then why not step out to do something outrageous and look for them on the other edge?

Because when you do, you’ll find them there.