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dementia

 

Living Where Everything Is Forgotten: A Mother and Son’s Struggle Toward a “Dementia-Friendly America

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 8:48 a.m.

By Robrt L. Pela

 

GUEST BLOG

 

“My mother is washing dishes. She’s using a paper napkin she found in the kitchen sink, and a little bit of leftover coffee from a mug on the counter. She scrubs at bits of egg stuck to a fork, sets it next to the saucer she’s just cleaned. Then she grabs the saucer, wets the napkin with the coffee, and washes the saucer again.

 

“Hey, Duchess!” I call to her from across the kitchen. “What’re you doing?”

 

“I’m getting all the train books ready,” she replies, looking cross. “She said they were eight coming, the children.”

 

She moves to the refrigerator, and begins to gather food for the people she imagines are on their way to this house where she has lived for 50 years: a half-empty Tupperware of minestrone, a hard-boiled egg, the bowl of oatmeal she refused to eat this morning. (“It’s too spectator pump,” she had complained, pushing the bowl away.) She piles these things onto the kitchen table, then heads off to her room, probably to dress for her phantom company.

 

By the time she arrives there, my mother will have forgotten what she wanted. Her 10-year-old Alzheimer’s diagnosis was recently reclassified; she’s now a 6 on the Global Deterioration Scale, a means of measuring the depths of dementia that tops out at 7. The Duchess will arrive at her bedroom, become distracted by something — a lampshade, her framed wedding portrait, my dead father’s key ring — and dressing for imaginary company will be forgotten. These days, for Maria Domenica Clemente Pela, pretty much everything is forgotten.

 

I don’t follow her to her room. I’ve got a kitchen to clean and a stack of insurance papers to fill out before I take the Duchess to her quarterly oncology appointment later this afternoon. A decade ago, I took my time with things: finished a project only when it was perfectly complete; awoke when I was done sleeping. Today, I’ve learned to take shortcuts. There’s never enough time to do everything, or to do anything especially well.

 

I am what is politely referred to as a caregiver.

 

I spend most of my days and some of my nights here at the suburban West Phoenix house where I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, where my 91-year-old mother and I have been playing a decade-long game ever since she began losing her mind to Alzheimer’s disease: She is the Duchess of Pela, and I am her minion. I awaken her, bathe her, dress her, and feed her, after which she sits in her kitchen, a gentle expression fixed on her face, reading and re-reading the story of her life, a 249-page, handwritten essay she composed a dozen years before she began forgetting who she was and where she lived. Several times a day, she looks up from her journal. “Have you read this?” she implores. “It’s good!”

 

In the afternoons, the Duchess is restless. Her journal no longer holds her interest; she refuses to play with her little box of paste jewels. She’s anxious to get home to the house in northeastern Ohio where she hasn’t lived since 1942, worried she won’t be able to find it on her own. She paces, maniacally tidying her kitchen, distracted by some puzzling chore she must complete but can’t quite fathom.

 

I’m distracted today, too. I’ve received a press release announcing that Tempe has joined the Dementia Friendly America initiative. Introduced last summer at the White House Conference on Aging, this yet-unfunded program means to create a “national dementia friendliness,” one city at a time, by training individuals, businesses, and first responders to recognize and respond appropriately to people with memory impairments. Thirty-six towns and cities in Minnesota, where DFA was launched last year, have adopted the initiative’s four-phase roadmap; in March, Tempe became only the sixth city outside Minnesota to join the dementia-friendly fray.

 

How’s that going to work? I wonder, as my mother ambles into the kitchen carrying three handbags and a toilet plunger, a wilted brassiere wrapped around her wrist. How is an entire city going to learn to deal with old folks who insist that Herbert Hoover is president, people who can’t tell a bra from a bracelet?

 

The very idea of a dementia-friendly world strikes me as preposterous. I can’t convince the respite care workers I sometimes hire, who are supposedly trained to deal with the memory-impaired, not to tell my mother that her husband died three years ago. She thinks she’s 9, and little girls don’t have husbands. It upsets her to hear otherwise. Some of the medical professionals who look after the Duchess, when told she has Alzheimer’s, speak more loudly, as if volume adds clarity — even though she’s not hearing-impaired. If I can’t get my mother’s own children and grandchildren to take part in her care, how can Tempe expect to sell sensitivity training to a reluctant universe of clerks and bankers and doctors?

 

“Is this yours?” my mother asks, holding out the toilet plunger.

 

“Yes,” I lie, taking it from her. “I’ve been looking for it everywhere.”

 

“Well,” says the Duchess, looking me up and down. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to fit.”

 

The statistics are bleak. According to last year’s annual report from Alzheimer’s Disease International, the number of people with dementia worldwide has grown to just shy of 47 million. That figure is expected to double by 2030, and to triple 20 years after that…. For now, one in nine seniors has some form of dementia. Arizona alone will see a 71 percent increase in the number of residents with dementia over the next 10 years.

 

….There are other hurdles to a dementia-friendly anything. According to that ADI report, about half of all dementia patients go undiagnosed, in part because most people figure there’s no point in being diagnosed when there’s no cure.

 

“We’ve got a long road ahead of us,” Jan Dougherty tells me when I call to ask about this Dementia Friendly thing “Right now, dementia is where cancer was in the ’60s or HIV was in the ’80s,” Dougherty explains. “People are really just starting to talk about this disease openly. There’s more education on the stupid Zika virus than there is on dementia. But we have to start somewhere.”

 

The program is designed, according to that press release, “to help communities better understand, embrace, and support residents living with dementia.”

 

Okay. But how? I watch an animated video on the DFA website in which ethnically diverse line drawings are made happier because everyone they meet knows how to interact with dementia patients. According to the cartoon, DFA will educate local businesspeople about how to support customers with dementia, convince employers to support employees who are caregivers, and teach law enforcement and city service providers how to deal with the demented. DFA is also proposing changes to transportation, public spaces, and emergency response that would allow people with dementia to interact in their community.

 

In some cities, “memory cafes,” where memory-impaired people can gather, have made it onto the must-have list. Businesses will all, according to this plan, one day post a logo on their doors.

 

“To ask priests and rabbis if they want to learn more about dementia?” I ask. “To request pro bono representation for Alzheimer’s patients?” I apologize to Mitchell for being slow on the uptake.

 

But even with the help of the little cartoon, I’m still struggling to grasp how Tempe will implement a program whose four phases include vague bullet points like “Form a community engagement sub-team” and “Develop an organized process flow and timeline,” and wraps up with “Create and implement a community action plan.”

 

“One person at a time,” Mayor Mitchell replies. “Fifteen hundred people in my community have dementia, and I need to get the city educated on how to help them.”

 

Okay. But would Mitchell have climbed aboard the dementia-friendly bus, I ask, if his own mother didn’t have Alzheimer’s?

 

“I don’t know,” he answers. “Would you be writing a newspaper article about it if your mother didn’t have that same disease?”

 

Touché, Mayor Mitchell.

 

The Duchess and I are seated in the waiting room of her new general practitioner’s office, waiting for the results of her annual tuberculosis test. She is stressed out about getting home late for supper and being grounded by her father, who died in 1958, and I am entertaining myself by counting the number of times she tells me she hasn’t any pancakes in her purse (17 times so far, and she’s not carrying a purse today).

 

The woman seated across from us smiles at me. “My mother had dementia, too,” she quietly confides. I return her smile and think to myself, Okay, I’m about to have this conversation again.

 

“I took care of her for two years before we had to put her in a home,” she is saying, and I’m thinking, Two years? Really? Two.

 

“How difficult that must have been for you,” I say. “And how does she like it there?”’

 

“Oh, she died three weeks later,” the woman replies, after which the Duchess and I excuse ourselves and move to the other side of the waiting room.

 

A little while later, we’re taken to an examination room by a nice medical assistant named Juanita, who talks baby-talk to my ancient mom.

 

“Will you get up on the scale so we can weigh you, please, Miss Mary?” Juanita asks with a big pout, her words all syrupy, rounded vowels. The Duchess shoots me a look that clearly says, Get this person away from me! and I look back at her with an expression that replies, Oh, right, you’re the parent I inherited my crummy attitude from!

 

“My mother has late-stage Alzheimer’s disease,” I explain to Juanita as I pantomime how to get on and off the scale. “Sometimes showing works better than telling.”

 

Juanita smiles at me and turns to the Duchess. “Have any of your medications changed since last time you were here, Miss Mary?” My mother begins a long, disjointed explanation of why she chose to wear this particular pantsuit, indicating the sundress I’d put on her that morning. Juanita turns to me.

 

“Is she always like this?”

 

“She has late-stage Alzheimer’s,” I remind her, handing over an updated list of medicines. My mother is still trying to tell her pantsuit story when the doctor joins us. Rather than talk to my mother as if she were a precocious toddler, he ignores her entirely, speaking only to me. It turns out Her Majesty does not have tuberculosis.

 

When we get home, I put the Duchess down for a nap and then I call Olivia Mastry, the executive lead for Dementia Friendly America. I want to ask her, “How come everyone gets to have a mother who dies except me?” I’d like to say, “How come health-care workers all call my mother Miss Mary, as if she were a plantation owner in antebellum Atlanta?” Instead, I ask how much importance DFA plans to place on training medical professionals to deal with demented people.

 

Plenty, she promises. “We have tools and resources that guide each sector of the community, and there’s a real emphasis on physicians and their staffs. It’s not all clergy members and clerks. We’re still defining what dementia-proficient means for medical workers, and once we do, everyone from doctors on down will be held to a standard.”

 

Really? Training the entire medical community seems like a pretty tall order. I call Dr. Pierre Tariot, my mother’s doctor at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, and ask him if this seems doable to him.

 

“While Dr. Tariot and I are saying our goodbyes, the respite care worker arrives for her twice-weekly shift. “Hellooooooo Miss Mary!” I hear her cooing in a voice typically reserved for really cute puppies. “Remember me?”

 

Maybe, I think to myself, I’ll die in my sleep tonight and I won’t have to deal with any of this anymore.”

 

 

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inspire-a-difference-corp-graphic

 

Napkinwriter likes this…..we “people of age” need to turn on our lighbulbs and create more new ways of living than what is available now.  This can also work for the singles and couples who make it into the elder years with sufficient physical, mental and spiritual strengths to not have to be “cookie-cuttered” into what exists now.

This French version of ingenuity came across my Facebook feed and I am happy to share it.

 

“It’s been 15 years in the making but the Babayagas’ House, a name taken from Slavic mythology meaning “witch”, has just been inaugurated in Montreuil, on the east side of Paris.
It’s a self-managed social housing project devised and run by a community of dynamic female senior citizens who want to keep their independence, but live communally.

“To live long is a good thing but to age well is better,” says 85 year old Thérèse Clerc who dreamt up the project back in 1999.

“Growing old is not an illness,” says the elegant, feisty Clerc. “We want to change the way people see old age,” and that means “learning to live differently.”

The building houses 25 self-contained flats. 21 are adapted for the elderly and four are reserved for students.

Residents pay an average of 420 euros for 35m2.

The five-storey building is in the heart of Montreuil, just a stones throw from metro, shops and cinema.

Being central was important. “The message is ‘you will go out, you have a right to be active’,” says Jean-Paul Blery from the town’s housing department.

Janine Popot moved into her 29m2 studio a few weeks ago and still hasn’t opened all the boxes. As one of ten children, she says she wanted to live alongside others but not in a conventional home.

“I wanted to avoid ending up in a retirement home at all costs. When you don’t have much money, a retirement home becomes a prison,” she explains.

Growing old well means keeping the grey matter going. So the house isn’t just a place to live. The ground floor is reserved for activities and will house a university for senior citizens.

Residents were selected partly in relation to what they could contribute to the “community” and the extent to which they shared the Babayaga philosophy.

Many, like Jannine, are active in the voluntary sector.

The project cost nearly 4 million euros and funding came from no less than eight different public sources, including Montreuil city council which is accustomed to investing in innovative projects.

It was a difficult, long road, “a forceps delivery,” says Clerc.

Not least because getting funding for a project run by an association was genuinely innovative.

“Local authorities aren’t used to working with associations,” says 62 year old resident Dominique Doré. “Associations in France can’t buy land. Cecile Duflot (the French housing minister) is trying to change this.”

The Babayagas have generated a lot of interest, both here in France and in Canada, but Doré denies they want to launch a franchise and prefers to be compared with the slow food movement.

“Slow ageing? Why not!” “We want to exchange ideas, take what’s best out there.”

And while some Babayagas say their house must remain women-only, Doré says the structure is bound to evolve.

“We have the recipe, we have the saucepan, now it’s up to us to make the soup,” she says.

Two similar projects are underway in Palaiseau and Bagneux, and other local authorities are interested in following Montreuil’s example.

After all, a quarter of France’s population (17 million) are currently over the age of 60. By 2050 it’ll be a third.

The French will have to find solutions for the care of this growing elderly population. Helping senior citizens to help each other, as the Babayagas are doing, looks like a good one.”

Source:

From:   The World and All It’s Voices

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Crying for a Woman I Never Met – Honoring Seena Frost.
Posted on January 14, 2016 by Barbara Techel
GUEST BLOG

Seena FrostSeena Frost, Founder of SoulCollage®.com

Crying for a Woman I Never Met – Honoring Seena Frost.

by Barbara Techel

I never met Seena Frost— the remarkable woman who created the process called SoulCollage®. A creative, intuitive, and fun process I learned about in 2014 and trained to become a facilitator.

I was overcome with emotion when I read this on her daughter, Jennifer’s Facebook page today: “my mother and friend, merged peacefully into oneness with Spirit late last night at home with her family gathered around her.”

Why does this feel so emotional? I wondered. And as I thought about it there are many reasons. First, to think about losing my own mother someday I know will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to face. I can’t even imagine it. But I know this is reality and I pray she will have the same peaceful transition as Seena when her time comes.

Second, I have such immense admiration for Seena. She made such a difference in this world. She has helped thousands, many being women, to find their authentic voices and to be proud in letting their light shine.

In a world where so many are frightened to let the mask come off and be who they really wish to be in fear of judgment, to have had someone like Seena who thrived on encouraging others to tap into their own wisdom, was such a gift – a deeply, rich, wonderful gift.
I’m also getting ready to facilitate a SoulCollage® workshop in my home this Saturday in the lower level of my home which I’ve dubbed, “Joyful Pause Studio.” It’s not my first time sharing this process, but it is the first time in my new space.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve felt scared to take this leap – scared that no one will sign up for the workshops —worried about being disappointed. But I’m honored to have five ladies who will be taking part in the workshop this Saturday.

And so it will be an even more special honor in sharing this with this group of ladies, knowing that I, along with over 2,300 other facilitators, are carrying on the legacy of Seena – with our own authentic styles and voices added to the mix.

I discovered through the many thoughtful memories being shared on Facebook of Seena something she wrote in an article that I want to share also in her honor and memory:
“I truly believe that creating our SoulCollage® cards and sharing them in groups adds positive energy to this cosmic vibration, and will help humans move into the next paradigm. We may not be able to see it, but perhaps, if we look up at the night sky, we can be reminded and reassured of the vastness of Indra’s Net, and, as individual jewels, continue to create and share compassion and hope and humor and love.”

Seena, now part of that night sky, shining ever so brilliantly bright – I take into my heart that beautiful vibration of her spirit and hope that by sharing this process with others, I too, can make a difference in helping others feel safe in sharing their inner light.

Godspeed Seena. Godspeed.

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Advent Post

In Father Jim’s homily on Epiphany this morning, he offered to us that God is always being revealed to us through our experience. Always. In every experience. He said at the time of the birth of Jesus and the Epiphany of revelation at the visit of the three kings, that Mary didn’t know at that time what was being revealed.  What was she doing? She was “holding these things in her heart…..she was pondering these things in her heart“and continued to do so throughout her life.

How could she possibly understand what was happening now? How would she understand what was to come?  How?  She held them in her heart…a true contemplative.

I approach a lot of my life this way now, having just turned the age of 73. There is much going on above, around and through me. I journal, I hold these things in my heart. I feel gladness and joy; I experience pain and tears, uncertainty and fear. But I ponder and I am aware of gratitude for the gift of life and love all around me so freely given.

I love the words and art and spiritual vision of Jan Richardson and I share her poem of Epiphany with you for my first 2016 Napkinwriter blog.

 

For Those Who Have Far to Travel
A Blessing for Epiphany

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

“© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com

New from Jan Richardson
CIRCLE OF GRACE: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Within the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us. —from the Introduction

Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan’s distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us. A beautiful gift this Advent and Christmas. Available in print and ebook.

 

 

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black cat halloween

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors and commentators on life in general, and life of a recovering addict in particular. I came across her post on Facebook today, and found in between the lines,  many meandering thoughts of like kind wandering through my mind lately. Especially the ebb and flow of life, the learnings along the way, and the inevitable march of time into older-age, which I am experiencing.

This morning, I put out the bag of roasted and salted almonds (but not, I noticed, as salted as they used to be which I liked; must have cut back in the name of nutrition, darn). Anyway I put them out and munched on a few, so I would bypass the bag (one of each) of mini Musketeers and Snickers.

To no avail…..after having downed one of each, I now have them behind closed doors of the closet awaiting the first ding-dong (oh, there’s another sweet, none in sight) of the front door bell tonight.

The fact that I have a little community in this “avoid sweets” attempt made life a little lighter for me today. All that’s left is to attack and accomplish the cleanings of two bathrooms on this rainy Saturday afternoon, watch a little football comfortably, as the MSU Spartans are having a rest day, and play some games on my Kindle Fire. Pretty easy.

Happy Halloween.

From Anne Lamott:  GUEST BLOG

“I have finally isolated the problem: that we were born at all. That we have bodies, and minds. Also, parents. Who made us go to school. Where a third of the children were absolute beasts, especially on the blacktop, when teachers weren’t looking. At about the time a grandparent or cat died, and we began to realize everything and everyone was going to die. Even Mom! Who was insane, who either had to be highly medicated, or who cleaned between the piano keys with Q-tips, or hated Dad, or adored Dad, who hated her.

This is all by five years old, before most children can even read, i.e. begin to learn about the full nightmare of life in one’s own bizarre family, let alone slums, Stalin, alcoholism, manic-depression, JFK, cancer, acne, and what eventually happens to most animals at the pound.

This advance is not available to most children until they are at least six years old.

Right? I mean, let’s put aside the fact that our hearts get broken–everyone’s hearts get badly broken here, trust me; shattered–and maybe we have children and they have awful problems, and their hearts get shattered, and you want to die, but eventually maybe they find a great husband, say, whom you adore, who, when the twins are ten, they divorce. Then your best women friends gets breast cancer. Plus your cat, who is the main reason you can even stand being here at all some days, is on his last legs.

So yeah, maybe we’re a bit more tense than the average bear.

Yeah, maybe we’ve shut down a little. Maybe at six years old (see above) we’ve developed armor, like very articulate, high-achieving armadillos. We’re obsessed with what other people think of us. Some of us drink or eat a little more than would be ideal. We know we are a little off balance, a little out of whack, because we binge on this or that, or starve, or have developed tiny, tiny control issues, and maybe struggle EVERY so often with judgment, hardly worth mentioning; or cannot turn the TV; and the cell phone is destroying our lives, our chance to be spiritually awake and present, and makes us hate the worst offenders. Plus, you know, the little death thing.

I promise, if I were in charge of more, if I were God’s West Coast representative, I would have a much better system.  But I’m not.

So what is the plan? I’m so glad you asked, because while I have some heartbreaking and highly stressful things going on even as we speak, as everyone does, and it is Halloween, which I hate on every level, not just because I have eaten all the fugging Mounds, which I thought I could keep around because I don’t love them, I am in a dangerously good mood.

Why? Because I have community. I have several friends who are so On Beyond Zebra in terms of greatness and loyalty, that we will never be alone in our struggles and suffering guns craziness. Because I got a second chance at life. Because God has to love me-that’s His or Her job.

Because the day is young, and only I can wreck it. I’ve done my prayers, meditation and been to the Church of the New York Times. I am in my own home, where there are pets, autumn apples, unread books, clean sheets on the bed (!!!!!), not all that many more Mounds bars to shovel in. I get to go for an hour’s hike. And then, OMG, a hot shower. I get to put lotion of my beautifully, ripply, sturdy, work-horse thigh; the laying on of hands.

And then all of these sober people who love me more than life itself–and I them–are going to meet and roar with laughter, or cry, and listen intently to one another, and remember that most of our problems are mental–our minds are for entertainment purposes only. So we will change channels. We will turn off K-Fucked Radio, and be where our feet and hearts are, with each other, sticking together, sharing our water and gum. We remind each other to eat, that we get even worse when we don’t. Like Jesus telling his disciples, “You are all driving me a bit crazy here today, but there is a fish roast going on at the beach. So everyone go eat, share, savor; breathe. And we’ll meet back here later. Deal?”

Then I am going to flirt with every old lonely person I see. And I am going to walk with my dogs through the ‘Hood, even though Bodhi is old and aches, and I will pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow, because that is not my business. Love and service are my business. Walking the dogs is my business. Radical self-care is my business: hence the autumn apple as and clean sheets, and remembering to look up. Asking myself if I want to be right or kind is my business. Law of the American Jungle: Remain Calm, and Share Your Bananas. Period.

I have to get up tomorrow at 4:00 a.m. and fly to Alabama, but that is tomorrow. Not my problem. Just today. I have you, you have me. The friends, the changing leaves,the unread books. The dogs. The cat, who is perhaps the tiniest bit bitter, about the dogs. The Mounds, which are actually damn good. Our hearts. Cool water. Wow.

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Grandma's Apron

This is the second time I have seen this black and white photo of “grandma at the sink.” This reminds me so much of my Grandma Katherine Heffron. It is how I saw her many times. She had the cotten dresses, bandage supported legs and the black “ugly” shoes as I called them. Everything that the writer says about the apron and what happened around it are memories I have of my grandmas Heffron and Grandma Thompson, on her Wisconsin farm.

Cottens are still my favorite fabrics. In the early 1950s when we visited my grandpa Thompson’s farm in Wisconsin, I used to play for hours on end in great grandma Thompson’s closet, with a fabric drape door. In there, she had squares and squares of cotten and other fabrics that I endleesly matched and hand sewed together for doll clothes. I just liked playing alone in her tiny bedroom and fabulous closet.

My guest blog today:

The History of ‘APRONS’

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma’s aprons.

REMEMBER:

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love
—Hawk Seeker of Truth—

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March 27 2014Photography by Susan Heffron Hajec

 

Rules For Being Human
(from an old Ann Landers syndicated newspaper column)

  • You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.
  • You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time school called Life. Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those you THINK you need.
  • There are no mistakes—only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error and experimentation. You can learn as much from failure as you can from success.
  • A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and behavior), then you can go on to the next lesson.
  • Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as you live, there will be something more to learn.
  • “There” is no better than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here”, you will obtain another “there” that will again look better than your “here”. Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have.
  • Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.
  • What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. Remember that through desire, goal-setting and unflagging effort, you can have anything you want. Persistence is the key to success.
  • The answers lie within you. The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within your grasp. All you need to do is ask, look, listen and trust.
  • You will forget all this. Unless you consistently stay focused on the goals you have set for yourself, everything you’ve just read won’t mean a thing.

 

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Longtime-Mariage-Cropped

Praying in Color Image by Sybil MacBeth

Some thoughts from Sybil (guest blog, featured in Praying in Color), and Sue, Napkinwriter and soon to be wife of 50 years.

Reply Note from Sue to Sybil about her following post:  Congrats on your continued journey. I am trying to do the same for Tom and me, approaching our 50th in less than 2 weeks. So far, what I’ve come up with is a box of note cards for him and one for me, to write a love note to each other, upon reflecting upon our journey. These are to be done ahead of the time we leave for our return to the site of our honeymoon — the Smoky Mountains, and then read one day at a time.

I said I would do 50 stories in 50 days on my Napkinwriter blog, (www.napkinwriter.wordpress.com) but the 50 stories will be stretched out through the end of this year, I believe. I remember, regarding COMMUNITY, that a dear priest friend of ours said that was exactly what marriage is, and that we had better let others in or our marriage would not succeed. That is a Truth we have well-lived. I love your “ground” words. I am going to play with that. I also am going to post your blog as my guest blog today, hopefully assuming your permission.

Longtime Marriage  by Sybil MacBeth
Posted on June 10, 2015

Sunday was Andy’s and my 46th wedding anniversary. We have been married for 70% of our lives. When we said “I will” to the beautiful and daunting vows in an Episcopal church, Andy was so young his parents had to sign a permission slip for the state of Maryland. “Yes, little Andy has our blessing to go on a lifelong field trip with Sybil.” It was a crazy thing Andy and I did. If we had been older we would have had the sense to be more scared. But we were convinced we were supposed to take this journey together.
I’ve been trying to write a post about our longtime marriage, but everything I write seems sappy or self-righteous. A few phrases and their visual images offer a playful, but succinct summary for me.
MARRIAGE is:
a playground,
a training ground,
a campground,
a feeding ground,
a breeding ground,
a battleground,
a fairground,
a background,
a foreground,
an underground,
Holy Ground.
But another word that keeps popping up in my brain is community. Marriage is community. Without the myriad number of people in our lives who have encouraged us, chastised us, guided us, loved us, and prayed for us, we would not be together today.

As a tight little twosome, we do not have the energy, creativity, or wisdom to weather the changes and challenges of growing up and living with another person. Support and training have come from both likely and unlikely sources. Family, friends, Christians, non-Christians, married people, single people, divorced people, old people, children. Clergy, therapists, authors, colleagues, alcoholics, addicts.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NRSV) For this journey, God has given us teachers and angels with many different faces. Our marriage is not just about the two of us. It is a communal undertaking.

FROM SYBIL:  Thanks for the reply, Susan. You are welcome to post it on your site. Love the name–napkin writer. Cool idea for your 50th. I learned the most about marriage from a nun and a priest in Cambridge, MA when my husband was in seminary and we were in a marriage growth group they ran. The “religious” know about living in community and they taught me a lot. Peace and joy to you on your 50th!

Susan Heffron Hajec on June 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm said:
yes, we met our wise friend through Christian Family Movement on a rather earth-shaking retreat filled with much new knowledge for “us-marrieds”!!!
Also, I guess you must have been quite young, as I’ve just seen a beautiful profile picture of the present you. Enjoy life and I believe we are fellow dancing monk-esses. I love Christine and we are discerning a pilgrimage to Ireland in 2016, inviting all miracles in to allow it to happen. Thanks for reprint permission.

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Change 5

I am inspired to share Betty Lue Lieber’s 10 Keys to a Good Life from her Loving Reminders she posted today. Then I go to prepare “the best chicken noodle soup EVER”,( says my seven year old granddaughter) for her father, who got smacked with a fever and cold last night. His usual post is on the playground helping the school and the children, but he is taking care of himself with home rest today. All of this is part of THE GOOD LIFE.

From Betty Lue:

Affirmations:
I respect my needs and the needs of others.
I love, trust and respect myself.
The more I love, trust and respect myself, the more I love trust and respect others.
The more I love, trust and respect myself, the more others love, trust and respect me.

March 26, 2015 Loving Reminders- Basic Needs

What Do You Need?

What do our children need?
What do our families need?
What do our partners need?
What does our world need
?

When we are giving ourselves what we need, we will be happy, healthy and fulfilled.
Life can be simply fun, safe and easy when we honor our own needs and the needs of others.
What we “need” is totally different from our “wants”.
People are often taking care of what they want, but neglecting their basic needs.

It is time we return to basics.
It is time to learn to begin at the beginning.
It is time to listen to what is important.
It is time to honor ourselves and others.

Needs are not pleasures.
Needs are not whims.
Needs are not temporary happiness.
Needs are basic and primary to being and feeling safe, secure and strong.

We each need to be fed and sheltered and safe.
We each need to be educated and socialized.
We each need to be loved and to belong.
We each need to have something to do.

The priorities for children are not entertainment and toys.
The priorities in families are not chores and doing homework.
The priorities in partnerships are not partying and sexual intimacy.
When the media feeds us with what sells, we often forget and neglect the basics.

In a privileged and affluent nation, we have impoverished ourselves and our children.
When we work to provide temporary pleasures, spending time and money on nonessentials, we make ourselves poor in love, inspiration and healthy living.
We need Love, Love for ourselves, for others and for the beauty and bounty all around us.
We need gratitude for those we love and those who love us.
We need to know we are safe and secure, with a bed to sleep in and bills paid.
We need to eat regular meals prepared by someone who cares.
We need relationships that are respectful, reassuring and valuing who we are.

Good living comes from feeling grateful for the people in our lives and showing we love them.
Good living is taking care of our bodies, our clothing, our homes and what we have that serves us.
Good living is reading a book to our kids and tucking them in at night.
Good living is laughing at ourselves and enjoying the fun we have everyday.
Good living is breathing deep the fresh spring air and being grateful to be alive.
Good living is thanking Creator, Source, Universe for the unlimited life we have.
Good living is remembering Who We are and why we are here.
Good living is natural for those who see and trust in the Good that is theirs.

Let us remember to give ourselves and others the basics we need with full appreciation.
Life work when we take care of our needs.
Loving ourselves, Betty Lue

Ten Keys to a Good Life:

Be Responsible for the entirety of your life.
Be Open to learn from everything and everyone.
Be Forgiving of all mistakes, yours and others.
Be Truly helpful by thinking, speaking and giving your best.
Be Impeccable in caring for your body, relationships, home, work, finances.
Be Willing to live with moderation in all things.
Be Aware of the Gift of Love and the Call for Love.
Be Exact with your thoughts and words; they create your life.
Be Hard-working with wisdom, gratitude and joy.
Be Good.
See Good.
Think Good.
Speak Good.
Give Good.

From Napkinwriter:

I am living as Love in my life.

2015 Intention Mandala Living As Love

 

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writer lifeRe-blogging from Curtiss Ann Matlock’s words of today. I, too, am finding it hard in recent days to find the time to write as Napkinwriter. But I shall return. Right now, I am up to my eyes in pie making in my new venture of Pie In The Sky.

Gleanings– When it Comes to the Writer’s Life…
by Curtiss Ann Matlock on November 24, 2014
What is it about being pressed and denied alone time for writing that makes me absolutely furious to write? Some perverse bent within me. I have 10 minutes before a small boy hits my door, demanding my attention. No sooner did I sit here at this blank page, than the new puppy barked to go out. I’ve left her in the backyard and hope she does not get out while where she can squeeze through the fence while I just had to run up here to get out what I’ve been thinking about. The perverseness is that whenever I do have the time to write, I sit and stare at the page or putter and think. Such is myself, a writer.

“When it comes to the writer’s life, there are no formulas, no easy answers, no ‘quick fixes.’ Each of us must still find our own path. But we can acknowledge the ‘bigness’ in ourselves and hold a mirror to others when they lose sight of the bigness in themselves. We walk in solitude as we work in solitude, but we can hold each other’s hands along the way.” ~ Maire Farrington, as quoted in The Writer’s Life, by Eric Maisel.

I had a dear friend long ago suggest to me that many of my essays should be gathered into a book entitled: When You Need A Hand to Hold. Maybe I will do that, someday, when the small boy has grown up, the elderly mother has passed on, and the dog is willing to lay at my feet. For now I hold my own hand, and I write in the crushed spaces. I do what I can with what I have. That’s a place to start, and to keep going.

“When I decided to become a writer, things moved along well for the first few years, then I began hitting some walls. I hit a dry spell. No words came out. The results weren’t as I had planned. It was time to decide if I wanted to stand behind my decision or fold.” ~Melody Beattie, More Language of Letting Go
Once we decide.

The decision is everything. Make a decision, commit, and you are sprung forward. I decided to write at this time, and here I am, with the small boy now beside me watching me write, and I’m writing. He told me that my typing was like my fingers were dancing. I never would have heard that, had I not followed through with my decision to write this. I would never have known that I can write amidst distraction. Now I know. I write on.
Get writing, dear hearts.
CurtissAnn

Napkinwriter has a good reading tip for you.  Buy a copy of CurtissAnn’s  MIRACLE ON I-40, a great read during the holiday season AND some precious alone ME time with hot spiced tea and a treat in your comfy chair.  Both CurtissAnn and I like our reading chair time as well as our writing time.

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