NOT just for hospice!

It gripes my soul how many of the techniques that I used to keep Mom happy, healthy & humming along after a nasty health crisis at 85 finally derailed her health from 5 stars to 4 is typically relegated to being for hospice care.  Argh!

Massage was a big part of her later & last years.  How is it possible that so-called medical professionals found it in any way suspect, especially for hospice patients?!

Fragile financial networks & the elderly

The Takeaway had a sobering broadcast (about 4/5 in) on homelessness.  Although it was focused exclusively on African-Americans & includes prominent mention of  “systemic racism” as a factor, it emphasized the key point that goes across all races – that poverty is not necessarily what plunges people into disaster.  It could be an $800.00 car repair that leaves someone without a strong financial network able to make a loan  without transportation to a job, which is subsequently lost, and they can’t get a new one because they lack wheels to get there.

The importance of financially stable networks.  John & I didn’t have family members able/willing to step up with help when our financial stability cracked & crumbled after Mom’s final illness – four days after 9/11,  the criss-cross of crises – some related, some not – that followed, plus my inability to get any sort of full-time employment at 50+, let alone at the corporate salary/perks I expected to pull in until retirement.  BUT a strong friendship network/community connections kept us in our home.  Multiple times.  Today, we are slowly moving past being financially iffy, but will we ever feel the sense of security we once took for granted?

And we have no children of our own, no close family connections to the younger generations.  That puts us in the heart of a demographic increasingly finding themselves with rising costs, low fixed incomes (and the loss of Social Security benefits when a spouse dies), and an increasingly shredded social net that once kept people out of dire straits.  Oldsters & the elderly.

Listen & learn.  The older couple you know, the elderly aunt or uncle, might be on the verge of financial devastation.  Or already there & staying silent.

Hitching my star to a soapbox

It shakes me, seeing how every age of human within this wildly spiraling era are finding themselves beset with the crazies & unable to unclench themselves from its clutches.  We need to hit pause.  Not pause & rewind.  Being retrogressive has always ended up in even bigger messes.  Moving forward with intent, awareness, an appreciation of the ends that result from the means in our lives.  We need to stop doing things that do harm but tantalize because they make lives easier.  Convenience has trumped sensibility for way too long.

From atop my soapbox, it looks like a wise course of action is to slow down.  Countless people know in their bones that things are a mess as they are, but it’s easier to be sped along as part of the wild rumpus than put on the brakes.

I am going to do my bit by doing the tangible things I can – writing up four proposals for community-centered, connection-building events designed to draw people together in fun & soul-satisfying ways.  To pull out my soapbox & ask some youngers to join me in cupcaking & cooking & crafting – – communicating through creativity.

Enough with the talk – on with the do!

 

She doesn’t get it

A close-to-the-heart friend offered suggestions on ways I could produce more robust income streams – sign up as a home aide with a visiting health care agency, get a job as an Activities Director at a nursing home – or – “If you want to reach people before they get to the Nursing Home stage, try working at an Assisted Living Organization as an Activities Director.”  Sigh…  One of my nearest & dearest, yet she hasn’t a clue about how I’m experiencing my here & now calling.   My heart’s desire is to open the eyes of young middles olders to the importance & value of aging ever upward.  AT EVERY STAGE, including what’s though of as OLD.

Face it – the only person who is NOT “getting up there in years” is dead.  A person’s point of view on growing “elderly” begins in the cradle & grows from there.  But unlike every  previous generation, stretching back through millennia, many people in their 50s & younger didn’t experience multiple generations regularly rubbing elbows, living in the same town or nearby, getting together en masse at least once a year.  Sunday dinners a la Blue Bloods are increasingly rare, which is sad because food has created a sense of community, a sense of bonding, of shared moments.  Through the millennia.

What my friend doesn’t understand is that we’re in a moment that’s unique – and scary.  We are in totally unknown terrain, flying blind & most people don’t know it.  They increase their use of social media, which isolates more than it connects.  Increase their screen time, which stresses as much as it informs.  Let very little children use digital devices, in spite of warnings about the long-term damage they do.  Digital devices make a joke of privacy, expose millions to ID theft, do as much damage as good.  Yet millions upon millions continue to get utterly in their thrall, even outright addicted.

We are an increasingly divided nation, which was EXACTLY Osama Bin Laden’s aim when he directed our own planes, loaded with men women children, against our own buildings.  His knew the USA wouldn’t be destroyed by turning iconic buildings into rubble, murdering thousands of people, destroying many more thousands lives.  It was to create a breach for the inexorable crush of the worst parts of human nature bearing down on a tiny opening, ripping it open, tossing & crashing the structure of our nation from a bulwark of democracy to its own pile of rubble.

What my friend doesn’t understand is that my here & now calling is to be one of the countless human cattle prods zapping people into awareness of the crazies all around us, looking to suck us in, to bring us down, to make the United States another example of a great nation being brought down by our own obliviousness, our unwillingness to see hard issues in a clear light, to look back to the quick sand of our origins that’s sucked us under ever since a slave holder wrote ‘All men are created equal.’

There’s sure no job title for it.  And it is essential that we step up, embrace it & get to work patching up that hole that was blown in our national psyche seventeen years ago.

She might not get it, but I do & that’s what matters.

 

I bungled my wording!

Oh, drat!  It just hit me that I’ve been using entirely the WRONG wording in making requests of myself & of the Universe!  And I realized it thanks to a doctor friend who, having read about my frustrations over not finding a durable vehicle for my peculiar elder support energies,  sent me list of positions she feels are suitable for my skills & experience.

Alas, how little she knows me.  My background does not leave me well-suited to be an activities director at either a continuous care retirement community nor at a senior center.  As for signing up with an agency like “Visiting Angels,” she doesn’t grasp that while my mother & John’s got up there in years – 91 & 87, respectively – neither ever was what would pass as “elderly.”  Until her last hospitalization, Mom only needed a slight assist – no serious mobility issues, no dietary problems, sound in mind & body, considering her age.  Ditto with John’s mother, who lived on her own until the day she died.   My friend sees us as massively effective in what we do, but doesn’t realize that we lived with aged parent who were elders without being elderly, that our only elder experience & sole strength is providing social enrichment that staves off or reducing the effects of dementia.

But my friend’s e-mail joggled the mega aha about using totally off-base language in asking what I want from myself & the Universe!  It now asks, “To release bodacious USE streams, flowing with purpose-surged energies.”

While money & durable income streams are important, serving essential yet undervalued uses has always taken the lead in my life v. settling for work that produces income without drawing on my strengths.  It will be awesome when the uses I ably serve connect with a commensurate income – it its time.  But I didn’t just memorize Consider the lilies…,” “Take no thought for the morrow…,” “For peace has in it confidence in the Lord…”;   I put my faith in them.

So, I will keep writing my blog posts & seeking ways to nurture connection & strengthen community ties & to deepen relationship, to forge stronger intergeneration bonds & improve intra-family communication, to say “Enough!” to alienation & collective numbing, to shake the Kool-Aid out of our ears & the lead out of our feet.  I will keep doing what I’ve done lo these many years – believing in every portion of my being that “Peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that our God leads all things to a good end.  When we are in faith of these things, we are in peace, for we fear no things, and no worries about the future disturbs us.”

IMPORTANT – our divisions are deeper than politics

If I could have my friends – of every political stripe – read just one book, it would be Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.  I gave it John – to the two of us – for Christmas, intended to read it & discuss with John, then promptly forgot about it.  Only came across it yesterday because of hunting down Brene’s original reference to “marble jar friends” (found it in – Daring Greatly).

Cracking it open in high hopes of finding a long-ago read quote in a book I had barely opened, my eye lit on a passage & my heart froze.  And raced.  My mind whirled. And went dead calm as Brene explained that she is not an expert in terrorism but there are few, if any, more deeply knowledgeable about fear.  And “terrorism is time-released fear.

Pure & simple.

That’s what I’ve been trying to put my finger on: Osama Bin Laden didn’t direct those planes to take down buildings & kill innocents; he did it to sow fear that would bear its greatest damage long years after 9/11.  Ditto Dylann Roof murdering the very people who had made him welcome to their church – to kick off a race war, the impact gets stronger with the years.  Bin Laden’s box cutters ignited our vulnerabilities, while the backlash against the Confederate flag made countless people across the USA feel like their worst fears were being realized as the government came after THEM.

Time-released fear.

It reminds me of a movie about a group of WWII commandos tasked with taking out a key bridge.  It’s designed to stand any attack, by air or land;  the men aim to destroy a major dam up river, letting the force of its raging waters do their work.  The men charged with detonating it were dismayed at the piddly explosion, so minor the Germans weren’t even aware of it.  But what began out as the teensiest crack in that giant dam became a massive hole then the water descended upon the targeted bridge with such tremendous force, it took down the invincible structure.  Nature did what explosives could not.  Bin Laden counted on our human natures doing what he knew his explosives would not.

Americans need to WAKE UP to what is happening.   Brene’s words relate to ALL of us.  If we, as a nation, don’t wake up to that & turn things around… well, things will not end well.

I started my research six months before 9/11, and I’ve watched fear change our families, organizations, and communities. Our national conversation is centered on, “What should we fear?” and, “Who should we blame?” I’m not an expert on terrorism, but after studying fear for 15 years, here’s what I can tell you: Terrorism is time-released fear. Its ultimate goal is to embed fear so deeply in the heart of a community that fear becomes a way of life. This unconscious way of living then fuels so much anger and blame that people start to turn on one another. Terrorism is most effective when we allow fear to take root in our culture. Then it’s only a matter of time before we become fractured, isolated, and driven by our perceptions of scarcity.

In a hardwired way, the initial trauma and devastation of violence unites human beings for a relatively short period of time. If during that initial period of unity we’re allowed to talk openly about our collective grief and fear–if we turn to one another in a vulnerable and loving way, while at the same time seeking justice and accountability–it can be the start to a very long healing process. If, however, what unites us is a combination of shared hatred and stifled fear that’s eventually expressed as blame, we’re in trouble.

Everyone has a story – Brene Brown link

It’s over a month old, but I finally feel like I can share Brene’s blog post responding to Anthony Bourdain & Kate Spade taking their lives.

The entire posting is invaluable, hits on so many delicate & important points for us all, whatever our age situation circumstance to remember & remember & remember, but if all you read are these nuggets, you will be well served:

You would think the universal nature of struggle would make it easier for all of us to ask for help, but in a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there can still be so much shame around reaching out, especially if we’re not raised to understand the irreducible nature of human need.

We can encourage our children to ask for help; however, if they don’t see us reaching out for support and modeling that behavior, they will instead attach value to never needing help.

We also send strong messages to the people around us – including our children, friends, and employees – when they do ask for help, and in return, we treat them differently, as if they are now less reliable, competent, or productive…

To know pain is human. To need is human. And, no amount of money, influence, resources, or sheer determination will change our physical, emotional, and spiritual dependence on others.