Month: July 2011

Living From Our Heart

Living From Our Heart

“My flame burns brightly. I live in integrity with myself and my God.                                                 I am not the sum of what you think of me.

I am who I was created to be and work daily to continue to be more                                                 and more of that wonderful creation called me.” 

Affirmation by Jill Davis

 

Living from our heart seems to be a difficult thing for most of us.  Our pure, honest voice, lost or muffled in infancy, has been replaced with a façade cobbled together to create someone who is acceptable to the world. We like to think the face we present to the world is real, but it rarely is. From the time we take our first breath we modify our behavior, our thoughts, and our reactions in an attempt to please and appease our care providers. We need them to stay alive and healthy, at least initially. Our natural survival instinct drives us to gain the attentions of those responsible for our care.

The lucky among us had care givers who not only recognized but were able to reflect to us the unique gifts and individual character traits with which we were born; care providers who fostered, nurtured and created a safe environment within which we could bloom and flourish and become ourselves. Real. Honest. Fearless.

Most of us were not so lucky. To one degree or another, those charged with our care hammered away at our uniqueness attempting to diminish traits not to their liking.  They could not see or ignored important gifts that make us who we truly are. In the process, we understandably lost sight of where we began, and forgotten who we truly are.  What remains is a pseudo-self that we present to the world and believe to be who in fact we are. We wonder why we feel out of step with ourselves.

Underneath the mask, the real, true and honest us still exists.  Waiting.  Ready. Willing to be freed, to live and breathe and find expression. It is our job, particularly as we age, to remove the mask we may have created to survive, piece by piece, bit by bit and to rediscover our birthright.

Too often we simply create a new mask to replace the old one, thinking that it will cure our dis-ease. We whittle away at our bodies, using diets, exercise, and plastic surgery to create a more perfect image of ourselves. We launch off on new careers, leave our spouses or significant others, sell our home and take to the road in search of better life, a better way, a better us. We look outward for the answers and find a temporary fix.

If we are not careful we can go on this way until our days on this earth are done and never have sung our song, for we are looking in the wrong place to find our truth.  Our truth lies within us, and will always be found in the recognition and acceptance of who we are inside of ourselves, in our souls. It is only when we find that place that we can begin to live in integrity with ourselves, with our God and with the world. Then, we will know the meaning of our lives. The, we will know peace.

“Sundowning”

“Sundowning”

Sundowning is a pattern of behavior that occurs in the evening after the sun goes down in elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  You may notice that your charge, who may be somewhat lucid during daylight hours, loses ground in the evenings. My mother exhibited this behavior in varying degrees for about six months before she died. I did not understand what was happening at the time and once I did it was easier to handle.

The first time I experienced sundowning was one evening while I was visiting Mom at her apartment in the retirement community where she lived. She had not been doing well and recently had a fall. As we sat together, eating dinner and watching TV, she abruptly turned to me and asked, “Where is your Dad?”

My father had been dead for eight years at the time.  I studied her face trying to discern what information she was looking for. She was quite herself and lucid during the day at that time and I was caught completely off guard. I didn’t know how to respond.  Should I tell her the truth or go along with her delusion? I stumbled my way through it that night reminding her that he had died. She looked surprised and upset that no one had told her of his passing.  The question resurfaced again and again, in addition to others.

Sometimes I merely said, “He’s out” and she would go back to whatever it was she was doing. Other times she would push and prod until I told her the truth and then she would cry, every time it was if she was hearing of his death for the first time. It was painful for both of us.

Dementia is usually caused by illness or mini strokes that have damaged a person’s brain cells. Sundowning is thought to occur due to the correspondent damage of a person’s circadian rhythms, the internal clock that regulates the body’s physiological activities over a twenty four hour period.

There are several things you can do to try and minimize the effects of sundowning.

  • Keep the person active and awake during the day as much as possible. It makes it easier for them to fall asleep in the evening.
  • Plan activities during morning hours and keep the afternoon activities calm and simple.
  • When possible make sure the person receives morning sunlight and increase interior light before dusk.
  • Keep your loved ones life and surroundings simple and uncluttered. A sudden change or move can make it worse.
  • Sometimes confusion can be caused or aggravated by dehydration or hunger. Often the elderly turn away from food and drink, increasing the likelihood of deficiencies.

Most of all, knowing that sundowning exists can be tremendously comforting. I wish I had known then!

 

And What is your Truth….

And What is your Truth….

by Nicky Perryman ~ Textile Artist

Words float in my head, unbidden, wandering trying to go somewhere. Like me. Phrases lurk in the shadows looking for a home, a purpose, a connection to something, somewhere. Like me. Beauty rests somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere in yet to be charted territory. Peace and tranquility. Joy. Meaning. Purpose.

The truths of life are the same, from one to another. The real truth crosses all boundaries of time, space, creed, nationality, age and utters its whisper softly and gently to all who listen. I raise my head from a pillow of tears just long enough to look into the eyes of truth and then turn away. Frightened of what, I do not know.

Our truth connects to a bigger whole should we be fortunate enough to find it. When removing the gauze of indifference, or fear, from our eyes we may look upon the face of God…of truth…of that which gives life and takes it when it is ready. Truth is etched upon the hearts of women throughout history, before, during, now, and future times. A string runs through our lives connecting one to another drawing us in, weaving us carefully into a patchwork quilt that is life.  There is no beginning, no end, only now and eternity.

Our lives are our own and yet they are not. Our lives belong to the universe, to the whole, to the patchwork quilt. What we give of our truth will find its way into the pattern, into the beautiful, kaleidoscopic tapestry of eternity, bright with colors, shapes, sounds and above all else, love. What we love will be our legacy. How we love will be our truth.

Its written across the pages of history that as mere mortals we are called to speak the truth and to love. They cannot be divided. One without the other is incomplete. Find your truth and live it in love and your legacy will unfold bit by bit to find its place in the tapestry of eternity.

A Note about photo: I stumbled across the photo of the quilt and loved it. I have discovered it was designed and made by Nicky Perryman, a textile artist in the UK.  You will find more about her and her work on her website Nicky Perryman Textile Artist.  She also has a fan page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicky-Perryman-Textile-Artist/176159875736012.

Finding Our Story

Finding Our Story

We all have a story to tell.  It may be a short, sweet, simple story, an intricately woven esoteric story, or a fierce and volatile drama that plays out in the midst of mind numbing chaos. Nonetheless, it is our story and to truly live I believe we must tell it. Our journeys are powerful lessons for kindred spirits who are longing for a connection, or understanding, or compassion.  If we keep our story to ourselves, it will die and a thing of value will be lost.

Telling our story does not require us to be writers or speakers.  There are as many ways to tell our stories as there are people, but first we must find it. Then we can grab it by the tail and dance with it, allowing it to create us and us it.

Our stories come from the deepest yearnings of our hearts and souls ~ those rumblings and urgings that have yanked and pulled and pushed us through life even as we tried to ignore them. They are not the noises of our parent’s commands that may still meander through our conscious or unconscious thoughts ~ those are the echoes of their stories left untold that still reverberate in their offspring.  Our stories are unique to us, but they may likely rest beneath a protective shield, carefully held in place through years of denial. Now it is time to remove the cloak that hides our truth and discover its power.

I turned away from the telling of my story much of my life. I was taught not to value it, share or even recognize it by parents, teachers, and a society that valued different things. Consequently I shoved it out of sight and wandered aimlessly as I tried to live everyone else’s story.  There came a time when I could no longer push it aside. I could no longer find a reason to make the dictates of others more important than my own. I would tell my story or I knew I would wither and die. It took time to even begin to recognize its shape and texture and each day I choose to share it, it becomes more vivid.

Find your story by listening to any voice that you know is truly your own. Heed its advice, even if it is not clearly defined. Follow your inner directives whenever possible and you will chip away at the layer of protection that may be keeping it hidden. The still small voice that speaks to you in quiet moments, the intense passion evoked by a favorite song or a thing of beauty, these are the things that will lead you home.

When you discover a truth, write it down, even if it is only one or two words. These are building blocks for the  magnificent structure you will create.  If you can’t name it, draw a picture of it, sing a song about it, dance it. Let the creative director of your story shape it for you. Then, share your truth in any way that makes sense. The sharing is what will bring it to life.

RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50 by Julia Moulden

RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50 by Julia Moulden


Are you one of the many women over fifty looking for rich and rewarding work? A job or career that will not only put money in your pocket but meaning in your life?  Julia Moulden provides readers with the necessary guidance and tools to make it happen in her new book RIPE.

A member of the boomer generation Moulden  understands that our quest for work is a personal journey and one that is intimately tied to our quest for something more.  She also understands that most of us aren’t interested in retiring, at least in a traditional way.  We are still very much engaged in life and want to make the most of our fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond.

If you’re “ripe for change”, RIPE will give you a roadmap through the confusion and uncertainty. In a 12-week course, in 12 chapters,  you will be introduced to “essential concepts, inspiring examples and practical exercises designed to help you find your way”. Moulden takes you through the process of self discovery and understanding necessary to move forward in your journey to meaningful work.

Each chapter is broken down into instruction, stories of real people who exemplify the lesson, journal prompts and “spade work”, questions that make you think beneath the surface. If you take the author’s directives to heart, each chapter will keep you busy processing and exploring for at least a week. You certainly could do it faster but absorbing change and self-discovery takes time.

Julia Moulden’s writing style is engaging and upbeat. You won’t find yourself drifting off as she sets a pace that keeps the reader moving forward. I would definitely recommend RIPE, particularly if you are struggling with what to do next in your work or career life, although much applies to other areas of life as well.

~~~

Julia Moulden is an author, speaker, and columnist. Her books have sold around the world and been translated into six languages. She is known for anticipating trends – with RIPE as the latest example. Over the course of her career she has written for the world’s most visionary leaders and organizations, including speeches for CEOs, cabinet ministers and celebrities.

As a speaker, Julia is always in demand. People use words like “inspiring” and “unforgettable” to describe her presentations – she’s known for helping people change the way they think about themselves – and our world.

JULIA’S BOOKS


RIPE: Rich, Rewarding Work After 50 – Your Guide to the Next Best Phase of Your Career


WE ARE THE NEW RADICALS: A Manifesto for Reinventing Yourself and Saving the World (McGraw-Hill, New York, 2008)


GREEN IS GOLD: Business Talking to Business About the Environmental Revolution (HarperBusiness, 1991)

VISIT JULIA’S WEBSITE

Follow her on Twitter @JuliaMoulden

READ HER WEEKLY COLUMN ON HUFFINGTON POST