Sunday, 20 April 2014

Write On...

The variety of electronic communication devices is boggling – it’s easy to fall behind the times though when being up to date is not essential. I am personally of the vintage when manual typewriters evolved to electric, then word processing, and the list goes on.

Several years ago I saw a small-sized computer which held innumerable photographs, all properly filed. It was new to me, and simply called a Notebook. Handy and dandy. The selections today are desktop computers, laptops, notebooks, I-pads and one most aptly named ThinkPad™. 

Tweaks such as Memos to Self on our cellphones, Post-It™ notes on the fridge, mirror, doorframes and dashboards, or daily Lists of Things to Do are all task reminders.  We communicate to ourselves throughout all our waking hours and to each other most often by voice.

A business coaching system I participated in emphasized the dying art of hand-written letters, note-writing and even sending greeting cards by snail mail. It’s almost difficult to grasp the sense of anticipation that homesteaders felt when they knew the next Pony Express delivery was due!

While we rely on instant gratification and electronic communications regularly, there is still a substantial feeling of pleasure when someone receives a letter or card in the mail.

Write on!  

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

On My List….

Several years ago, possibly at a garage sale, I bought at least fifty pads of blue tear off paper entitled Things to do To-Day. Making lists has always been a good method to keep me on track and accountable, especially when there may be more tasks than there are lines on the page! The supply has dwindled to a scant few left – it’s on my list to find something similar!

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends after a very long time. Getting to know each other again has reminded me that specific interests or hobbies we want to pursue often continue throughout our life. The husband has renewed his model-building with fervor, which he enjoyed as a young man long before marriage and fatherhood compromised his schedule!

The ages and stages of our adult lives sometimes are too-tightly filled with obligations to someone or some things, such as gainful employment or continuing education. It’s often on our list of things to do that we may jot down in small print a pastime we’ve fallen away from; with every intention of resuming sometime ahead.

I have recently completed my first book, a non-fiction novel. The intention is to share a message of love, empathy, tenacity and creative solutions to encourage and inspire caregivers everywhere. The chapters are sensitive, with a good mix of common sense, chuckles and snuffles along the way.

Penning a book has been, since childhood, On My List!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Out on a Limb…

 A current T-V commercial which features a couple embracing their paid-off mortgage also includes an older woman and an adult child in the background. They join in to share a group hug – and somehow the thrill of the moment is diminished when the realization dawns that now there’s more money available, others need it!

Regardless of income, there’s always outgo that is either in or out-of-balance; and requests for a hand up can be difficult to deny. I know of a woman who is pretty in appearance but unpretty in disposition. Her disappointments must be many, for though she has recovered from a medical diagnosis and hopefully is counting her lucky stars, conversation is peppered with complaints. This habit is a deterrent for anyone, and as she seemingly has turned more fretful, even her family hasn’t appeared for a while.

Everyone has moments when we wish things could be better, it’s human nature to have more “I wants” than there are “I needs” – if a need is identifiable and actual however, sometimes adult offspring will step up and pay a few outstanding bills or cover car repairs if they are able. This past winter has played havoc with everyone’s budget, from snowploughing to utility costs!

If there is any strategizing to be implemented, in search for temporary financial respite especially, personal assets of a pleasant disposition, putting on a smile, and remembering good manners are priceless. My mother always quipped that “you get more bees with honey than with vinegar” – so turn that frown upside down if you’re out on a limb.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Playing With Fire…..

A commonly-heard expression when someone recognized that another could easily find themselves in a dangerous situation is “Watch Out!”…Ideally the warning is blurted in time to avoid accident or mishap; and the reaction is of thanks.

Mothers have an accelerated sense of awareness when it comes to the well-being of their children, regardless of age. Wives as well sound the alarm if hubby is doing something perilous. Caregivers hover, sometimes too closely, to prevent mishaps in the home; as do the children of aging parents who may not see themselves as more frail than in younger years and off-balance, perhaps due to eyesight or motor skills.

The warnings are often at increased volume than usual – which attracts attention immediately. It is our own adrenalin that creates urgency; and even when discussing a probability it takes intention to tone our voice to conversation level and not let fear seep through the illusion we’re trying to create of calmness and common sense.

Older men and women are sometimes not honest with themselves and their capabilities – some Dads for example want to show their adult sons that they’re still vital and “in shape”. Moms want to impart the knowledge they have garnered over the years and may be so emphatic they cannot accept there may be other ways of accomplishing a task.

In the still of the night, either from apprehension or regret, counting the “what ifs” is gut wrenching. Having very nearly mismanaged my concerns for someone’s safety, I took my fretfulness to bed and tried to sleep on it. This morning I recognized that fear is the motivator which makes us cry out a warning or shout imperiously when someone is playing with fire…

Monday, 24 February 2014

Drifting but not Adrift...

This winter has been oh-so-long and grey-skied too often. Everyone is yearning for a glimpse of some rays – just to stoke the fires of ambition. My usual get up and go feels dormant; if I could find out where that weather-wise groundhog is hiding I’d dig up his burrow!

The hustle of the Christmas season, whether merry or not, dissipates into the January blahs, when there’s no hurry about anything!  Come February, optimists get out paint chips samples and dream of herculean efforts to spruce up the house; gardeners lovingly stroke their rubber boots and pore over spring catalogues! Mind and body seem to be in hibernation, waiting for a thaw, watching for “a sign”. I actually heard some crows yelling this morning and maybe we will find ourselves dug out from the snow eventually, thirteen feet is about ten too many.

Sometimes an afternoon reverie curled up under a cozy afghan is just the time inspiration comes winging into our consciousness. If you’re under the covers too often for too long maybe you’re adrift. I must confess I’ve been sleeping too late for my liking, but if there’s temporarily no need to set the alarm, why fret. Somehow we are able to justify most things; sleeping in may make sense but might be senseless! It’s a puzzle these days!

What we learned and experienced in 2013 has grown us into a different person than “same time last year”. It takes a little time to regain one’s bearings – our inspiration for what’s ahead may be a flickering flame that will become an inferno once we get our lists made and thoughts in order. Except I can’t find a match!

Walking is a great way to burn off some lard and feel peppier – watching the Olympians’ accomplishments makes everyone else look like a fossil. Time to heave once again into heavy boots and my parka, the dog is twirling and wants “out”. Maybe I’ll I rediscover that train of thought that’s buried and hop aboard as it whizzes past! 

Today I’m drifting but not adrift.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

How Can I...?

In the February 4, 2014 issue of the Toronto Star, Life Reporter Nancy J. White has penned an article entitled “Chatting with Your Inner Coach”.

She quotes Ethan Cross, lead author of a study result published in the February issue of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that “to think about yourself as if you were another person provides psychological space, which helps people to exert self control”….

The comments are fascinating. Some people make up a list of Pros and Cons to help them with decision making. Others appeal to friends and other trusted advisors to help them quell anxiety and see the probabilities more clearly. Visualizing the person who is stressing over an issue is helpful – if that person is me it can be a challenge to be objective!  

Sometimes just talking it through, aloud, helps me clear the air – but as Associate Professor Kross states “to talk to yourself out loud in the third person violates all sorts of social norms.”

My husband is a great mutterer-to-oneself, which is sometimes more than slightly irritating, but at least he gets the answers he’s seeking! I seem to have noticed that people who live alone also have audible conversations that may seem odd to guests but are nonetheless fulfilling. And pet owners find great consolation in discussing their issues in dogspeak or conferring with the cat!

A close friend of mine, coming up to an important 1st Interview date, is feeling anxious. She has been gleaning and reviewing possible “interview questions” and which responses would be most appropriate.  It seems most probable that if she were to express her thoughts aloud and rehearse in the terminology of “you” – as in assisting a friend objectively, that the technique will instill the self-confidence she doesn’t yet feel.

Nancy White’s article “Chatting with Your Inner Coach” is timely and pertinent when the question we’re deliberating is How Can I…?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Change the Channel...

I heard this nifty phrase for the first time today on the CTV morning program known as Canada AM.  The application inference was more than pushing a button on the remote – its connotation referred to switching one line of thought to another! Almost like a “Time Out” indicator which we’re familiar with when someone wants to make input to a conversation.

Astute journalists and commentators, as an example, are most keenly aware of the flow of news reports and studio interviews, especially “Live” broadcasts. The everyday conversations of people everywhere can carry participants along with enthusiasm, until there’s an inadvertent slip of the lip and smiles go south. We sometimes get so caught up in the chitchat that we miss reading subtle signs of uneasiness or inappropriate thought lines, then a disconcerting jolt when the brakes jam on.

It came to mind that the phrase “Changing the Channel” might be an apt tactic for anyone who finds themselves teetering on the brink of hot water! Parents to recalcitrant children, adult children to unravelling parents, friend to friend or spouse to spouse. One accepted approach to keeping conversation alive is to redirect the focus to sidestep confrontation if the other party becomes overly anxious or upset. This strategy is a lifesaver for anyone who provides care to a loved one suffering from dementia – it’s almost like peering far ahead when driving at night – keenly alert to a possible incident!

Just as we sidestep a puddle or avoid thin ice, we can – rather than use the Mute button - hopefully circumvent discord by Changing Channels.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Tiny Bubbles…

A television commercial thats broadcast currently depicts both youngsters and adults feeling gleeful that gossamer soap bubbles surround them and seem to dance in the air! The wide smiles are contagious viewers cannot help but share the delight.

Pouncing on bubbles wherever they are found is great fun, regardless of age. My uncle, who recently passed away at the age of 103, was seen on video to be scooting down a waterslide slick with dish soap on the occasion of his 99th birthday! Little children adore bath time when no-tear bubbles are mounding, as do weary ladies when a good soak is the best treat in a deep tub!

The gay feeling that makes us giggle is effervescent singer Don Ho once sang of tiny bubbles, in the wine! Its a well-known and proven fact that laughter is the best medicine when combating health issues; Dr. Norman Cousins described the benefits in his best-selling, groundbreaking classic entitled Anatomy of an Illness. Sometimes the teensiest tickle of comic-relief can ease a serious situation and when a giggle bubbles unexpectedly, even inappropriately, the results can be hilarious! When a book or article evokes humour, the author has achieved their intention. If we are of the ilk that people sometimes recommend we lighten up a senseless comedy routine or silliness of a kitten playing may be all it takes. In the grey days of January where were shy on sunshine, my own little dog has taken to acrobatics and other amusing antics which are truly effective. Cmon, lets go! 

Make your own, share with a friend, or put together a gift basket for someone who needs a lift.  Im off to the store this afternoon to find a bubble pipe or wand indoors or out, we can all get a giggle from tiny bubbles.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Company’s Coming….!

It seems probable that we have all heard, at one time or other, how someone flies into a full-blown tizzy of anxiety when guests are coming to visit.. It matters not who they are – getting ready can feel like a marathon we don’t want to run..

When there are extenuating circumstances such as chronic illness or a household member’s death, people feel more than willing to overlook a few dust bunnies in the corner or spots on the kitchen cupboard doors. Globs of jam on the counter or a sticky spill in the fridge are easy to remedy with a quick swipe of a damp cloth if it’s caught in time.

Caregivers, even on short-term assignments, might find it difficult to keep priorities relevant. Too much change, too much haste or being too fretful upset the “usual” way of things – to the point of tears or other displays of frustration. Helpful hints or “tips” on how to keep everything on an even keel are hard to bring to the fore when the house isn’t at its best! The proverbial big breaths, slow and easy, then set to with a reasonable expectation of completing small tasks.

Bathrooms in particular can be kept fresh and sweet with modern day cleansers, deodorizer wicks/wands/pumps, toilet bowl pucks, and by emptying wastebaskets.

Kitchens are the next priority – keep taps and sinks gleaming with a wipe down and clean up stovetop spills as soon as possible after the mishap. If you’re absolutely overwhelmed and someone asks “is there anything I can do to help?” – don’t be shy, and don’t pretend you have everything under control! Visiting family members would be glad to throw in a load of laundry or rattle up dishes in the sink!

If you know ahead of time that visitors are coming – whether for an afternoon, evening or longer visit – write out a list of “Things to do” and place it on the refrigerator door. Even though there may be a last minute flurry of setting out clean towels, rearranging a throw blanket or afghan, and even fluffing the dog’s bed!

When company’s coming they’re coming to see you, not your house!