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caregiving perspective

Soothing the Soul with Music

I don’t know about you but in some form or another music has been one of the biggest influences on my life.  It creates or reflects a mood, offers entertainment, initiates thought, provides subtle background.  It is a vehicle.  There is nothing like it.

My tastes in music have changed dramatically over the years.  Pop, folk, country, blues, jazz and Christian music have all spoken to me at one time or another.  What I always seem to come back to is a great voice.  I think the human voice with minimal accompaniment by acoustical instruments is the purest form of emotion.  That is my go to.  Others have their own styles that speak to them.

The key is to use the music, or whatever it is that helps you, to understand your own thoughts or get through the tough times.  I write as well to work through my “stuff”.  Many times before I write it is a song that starts the thoughts that turn into the article.  Find your vehicle, find your voice, sooth your soul with music.

Peace and joy to you all!

 

Filling Your Basin

Typical spring day, cloudy with occasional rain.  The air is clean and moist with a gentle breeze.  A bald eagle rides the air currents facing into the warm south wind and with a gentle flap of those enormous wings, it keeps him almost stationary over the intended target.

Walking along the  lake it is wet and a bit sloppy in spots but it is an old roadway so much of it is dry to walk on.  The pups will need a towel when they get home but they revel in the dampness and the odors from other dogs and wildlife.  The hillsides gather the morning rains into rivulets  that cascade down ravines splashing and tumbling to the lake below.  Last summer’s drought is a memory and the winter and spring have refilled the basin that was very low last fall.

Losing someone close creates an emotional drought that affects every aspect of your being.  The stress and physical demands of caregiving drains the basin of emotion.  Often the only important need tended to is that of the patient.  Suddenly that goes away when you lose that person.  What is left is an emotional drought.  That does not refill overnight.  It takes time and patience.  It takes a return to life, a refocus of values and resilience.  Nothing happens without working at it.  Maybe it takes some time to refill the basin but I hope and pray that in the natural course of life that the basin is full and strong for the next time it is needed.

I wish you all a full basin that overflows with peace and joy.

Expertise

I love to take photos especially landscapes and nature pics.  I do not consider myself a photographer because I think you need to know about cameras and composition.  I have no knowledge of those, I simply frame and snap what I see.  I have opportunity and try to take advantage of that.  Photos are easy because if they are bad, you hit delete.  Other things are not so easy.

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I used to do our own taxes because we were always trying to save money.  I was never confident that I was doing the right thing.  We had accounting help before and truthfully I was not happy with one of the two people we took them to.  It was important to me to have full confidence in that person.

With all that went on this year I took my taxes to a person I know who is a CPA.  For the first time in a very long time I did not stress over this job.  I realized that I had complete confidence that they were going to be done better than I could possibly do them.  I’m really enjoying the stress free part of having someone do my taxes.  From now on if I can afford it I will let the experts handle them.  In the case of taxes it is not what you know it is what you don’t know that gets you.

It has been that way with grief as well.  I thought I was doing pretty ok on my own.  I guess it’s a guy thing.  A few things have happened in my life and I realize that this might better be handled with the advice of experts.  I have joined a couple of groups and I have recently talked to some friends that have also lost their spouse.  It’s easy to be wrong, that takes no effort.  They are experts for a reason.  It isn’t easy, it takes work.  Grief is a big ol’ boulder.  It doesn’t move with the nudge of a shoulder.  Sometimes you have to chip away at the rock, breaking it into pieces you can handle.  The tools to break that boulder lie with the experts and friends who know.  My friends still have varying sized boulders in their space, but with time and work they get smaller.

I am not now nor have I ever been sorry.  People often say I’m sorry for your loss.  I don’t dwell on the loss, I revel in the life that was.  I politely say thank you realizing they are not experts.  There is a boulder in the yard.  I’ll chip away at it with help.  It will not define me but it will always be there.  Hopefully with work and time it will get smaller.

I have a new title and I don’t know the job description.  For right now I will do what I have almost always tried to do.  I’ll try to do what is right for me and those I love.  It may take a while to get through the yard for a while until I chip away at that boulder.  If you see me and I’m smiling you will know that I am getting there, chipping away, happy to have lived completely enough to have lost someone I love.  I go through this imperfect life as always seeking peace and joy.  Humor and perspective are awesome boulder chipping tools.

Love your life, seek peace, seek joy!

 

 

 

Fixer Upper

Laurie loved the show Fixer Upper.  Incredibly popular because of the hosts’ playful easy manner and rustic farmhouse style like Laurie’s Christmas fence, I couldn’t help but make parallels to life in general.  Like the old gold miner’s town we visited in Arizona there is something about older styles and buildings that draws us to its nostalgic charm.

In 2011 Laurie and I went to North Carolina to adopt a pair of cattle dogs.  Zeezee is the girl shown and was a true rescue with unbelievable issues.  To this day she is very reactive and quite sensitive to noise and remains very excitable.  She is also so very loving and sweet and incredibly smart.  She has her emotional scars and her quaint quirky ways but those imperfections are what makes her such a special little lady.  She was very difficult for the rescue to adopt out and I am proud that we were able to give her a great home.

We as people need to rescued sometimes too.  I often think that adopting dogs give us purpose and makes us better as people.  I have said before I wonder who rescued whom?  We are so very imperfect, so human.  Having lost Laurie, I was drawn to this beach photo that I had fun with a few years ago.  Grief often makes you feel like that pic.  A little unsteady, wavy, kind of stretched out mentally.  I know there is purpose for all of us.  After caregiving for the last few years and then losing my beautiful bride, in an odd way, it makes you feel like you have less purpose than before.  I am searching for my next purpose.  I have been lucky, I suppose, because so many people never really identify their purpose.  I have had several that I know of and so many more that I have not!  We try to be perfect to a fault.  What we are is perfectly imperfect.

There is beauty in the imperfection of nature as well.  We went to Sedona years ago.  Insanely beautiful.  After an impressive hail storm our guide drove us for sunset opportunities on a hill overlooking the valley.  I snapped this rainbow photo as the sun popped out after the storm!  Perfectly imperfect.  The last photo was taken with an old phone that had a vintage camera app.  Again right after a storm on Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  The camera phone brought out the purples and to this day is one of my favorite pics.

There is such joy and vitality in imperfection.  How often do we love a singer with a raspy voice.  We call it character.  The old farmhouse imperfect look, we call that character.  A colorful person that draws your attention, we call that person a character.  That dog that has been through so much who is now our best friend, we call a character.  Perfectly imperfect.  I guess no matter the circumstance, we are all Fixer Uppers!  There is beauty and joy in that.  Let’s give ourselves a break.

Peace and Joy to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Logs and Dogs (Reprinted from 4/15/16)

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A log lies decaying four feet through,

The life it had from seed to sapling,

Harboring life in its limbs,

fighting ever skyward in harmonic competition.

It succeeds in a full life but succumbs to time and Mother Earth by God’s hand.

Yet in its demise it provides life.

It opens the forest canopy so it’s offspring may carry on.

Other species thrive in it’s decay.

Life in circle but time as always is undefeated.

 

Dogs lead a different existence.

Most we bring to us, to give us pleasure, purpose.

We have removed them from their nature and they accommodate,

offering comfort and protection in exchange for food and shelter.

They live a far shorter life than a tree but are no less important.

Look in a dog’s eyes and witness the love of God.

 

So where do we fit?

Do we understand our finality?

I say live your life as the tree.

Provide life and protection while you live and nurture

the future of life in your own demise.

Receive and give without jealousy or malice.

 

I say be the dog and look at others with the love of God in your eyes.

Cherish your moments, live the life of a dog and the decaying log.

Fill your soul with peace and happiness.

 

 

 

Phases

Constant,  always consistent

Fifty minutes past each night

Whether public or private

In balance of rise and set

It watches our tears

 

Oh bringer of hope

You object of song

Inspiring souls

Reflected glory

Angel of the night

 

Through waxing and waning phase

It is never quite the same

The reflections of lonesome

The wooing of random hearts

It knows of our fears

 

Oh bringer of hope

You object of song

Inspiring souls

Reflected glory

Angel of the night

 

Power to move the ocean

Gentle light to sooth the soul

Drifting in and out of clouds

Cold and heartless, warm and soft

It captures our will

 

Oh bringer of hope

You object of song

Inspiring souls

Reflected glory

Angel of the night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning 

Sixteen years ago today, with a voice so hoarse from a cold that baritone was not possible, only bass, I asked a beautiful single lady on a date.  A few days later we were on a date that lasted 12 hours.  The beginning of Laurie and my life together.  Valentine’s Day has and will never be quite the same.  I was fortunate.  I am a lucky man.  

As with all beginnings there are endings as well.  I lost that great fortune, the essence of joy.  It is different now to come home.  Two wagging tails still grace my entrance but there is no voice, no tales of how the day was or what we should do about this or that.  So many people are without this very thing every day, but to me it is new.  I’m adjusting but I miss her.  There is no escape of grief and a day like this makes it even more difficult. 

You see, here’s the thing.  So many have never expirienced the life I had.  The simple struggles but faced down with a loved one!  Simple joy, simply content, simply gracious, simple profound life. I am not sorry.  I am grateful.  I am pretty happy.  The physical void is filled with memory.

Now, back to the beginning.

Peace and Joy!  Seek and begin.  Bring joy to someone who is alone this Valentine’s Day.  

Great Gifts

Our economy runs on things and gift giving.  Enormous fortunes are built and lost on the latest whims of society and advertising.  Those are things, stuff….all disposable.

What are our greater gifts?  We probably never realize it at the time or truly appreciate it but the individuals that grace our lives through the years are the great gifts that God bestows on us.  We are molded by them.  Our family, our friends, our teachers, every encounter in our lives is a brush stroke to the final painting that is our own life, our own legacy.  So to are we the same to those that we touch.  We influence without realization.  It can be as simple as a glance to a stranger at a particular moment.  It can be as complex as a marriage.

Jokingly people will tease by saying, “Do you know what they are saying about you?”  My smug answer has always been that I don’t really care what they say.  The reason for that answer is a deflection of the truth.  The truth is I would love to please everyone but we all know that is impossible.  The best we can do is do what, in our mind, is true to us.  If we could learn to not lie to ourselves we would go so much farther to ending our disputes.  To be truthful with others requires inner truth and acceptance.  The lies of advertising and the scrutiny of others twists our inner truth to compliance.  We don’t realize we are doing it, we just react.  It is how we have been influenced.

To spread goodness, live with joy in your heart so the simple glance at that stranger is filled with the light of compassion and not judgement.  Allow and teach yourself to see the positive.  Grow in spirit by allowing graciousness in and deflecting evil.  Life is a balance of all things.  There is evil in the world.  Balance that with the light of your love.  Be the greater gift whether it is a glance or a lifetime of influence on someone.  We all fail.  We all have success.   Allow yourself to be human but grow your life, no matter your age by searching the good and denying the negative.  Be joy and be life.

Peace and joy my friends.

 

Thinking…

“Outside of the box”… I dislike that term.  To me that term steals individuality.  It promotes the idea that we all think alike and we should conform to societal thoughts unless we are instructed to do differently.

No one thinks the same way as another person.  Many times when people come to the same conclusion it has as many different paths as the people who believe in the conclusion.  We contrive our arguments and our reasoning to support our conclusions.  We START with the conclusion too often.  I do it and I get angry with myself when I do.  It is an emotional way to live.  Emotion, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.  It does however block the path of common ground and compromise.  If you can set aside the emotion you can now open yourself to other views and philosophies.  If you can truly do that you give yourself a much broader base.  Better conclusions come from that.

In our political forum today there is great emotion.  There is a huge attack of opposing premises based on societal conformity and long-held beliefs and emotion.  I applaud the protests and the involvement of so many people standing up for their conclusions.  I ask you all, by all I mean BOTH sides of the arguments, to step away from the emotion of your discontent and analyze your premise and train of thought.  Then find someone of the opposing view and listen to them.  If you hear the real reasoning now you have the base to come to the conclusion that is closest to the truth.  The trouble is, no matter how we try, emotion never steps aside.  It drives us!

I expect that there is one truth no matter our own belief system.  To me, (the truth I seek) it is God’s truth.  Talk about an emotional subject!  I don’t know if I’m right or wrong.  I try to let everyone I have influence with to live their own lives and find their own conclusions.  I try to accept them for who they are.  I ask all of them now to find out and look within themselves to seek their own true premise for their beliefs.  Not what we were force-fed as children.  In your heart of hearts seek YOUR truth!  Now you are ready to state your case.

I believe that I will seek peace and joy.  If I smile as you argue and walk away, you at least now know where I stand.  I stand with God’s truth.  I go now to find it.  I think it is in the woods.

 

 

 

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