Archive for Caregiving

Karma and the Morning Muse: Thinking about how your behavior affects your health

Karma and the Morning muse:
Karma comes around like the morning — it always comes. I write from a perspective of 10 years of being here, helping, managing, and somehow surviving against all odds. This is not about the political shitstorm. This is not about the ACA or it’s imminent repeal. This is about human nature. This is about karma. Good or Bad, the wise man said Instant Karma gonna get ya. I think he is right. 

How you treat people is up to you. In my opinion, it’s essential to our well-being. Why? Because when we treat other humans poorly, it affects us personally. When we treat others with vindictive resentment, it becomes a toxin in our system. The way we treat others has a way of coming back to us. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but it comes back.  It always comes back.

instant karma gonna get you

What you give, ultimately it comes back to get you.

Would you tell someone that has had a stroke to just ignore it and live normally?
Would you tell someone who lost a limb that they should grow a new one?
Do you tell a cancer patient that they just need to be more active and get out more?
Would you try to convince someone with dementia that they can and should do everything they did before, push harder, and work harder?
Would you tell your Mom, Your brother, Your neighbor that they aren’t really sick even though you can see they are suffering?
If a friends child has a difficult and chronic illness or something severe, do you offer compassion or tell them how they must parent?
Would you insist that a complicated disease isn’t real? Would you insist that your lay medical assumptions are more valid that the medical experts across the globe who don’t understand the illness? Do you demand that your person follows your lay advice? And if they don’t you just give up on them and bail?

Karma comes around. Be a jerk and you get treated like a jerk. Be kind, kindness comes back.

Would you ever say things to their only advocate that indicate you think they are enabling and should just stop? Would you tell them that the person afflicted doesn’t deserve your help?
What would you feel if you were the one receiving these kinds of judgment?
How would you respond? No, really. How would you deal with this? It’s the reason those who become ill tend to isolate. It’s the reason families are torn apart and caregivers start to avoid being with friends. It’s not about being needed 24 / 7 — often it’s a matter of being in solitude is more nurturing than being with judgmentals who can’t find their heart.
I am deeply grateful to our friends who have stayed with us through this nightmare. Erica, David, Jerry, Sean, and Kristi, in particular, have been amazing. They know! They get it.  Their friendship is such a gift. Such a treasure to not have to explain repeatedly and then feel like they just don’t get it.
I’ve lived with my beloved for many years and through many things. He was a tough guy who overcame many pain points. He was a hard worker and hard driving hiker. Now, it takes far to long to explain to others repeatedly what his illness is and why it is the way it is. It’s not dementia, but it’s like it. It’s not MS, but it’s like it. He does not need a nurse or a caregiver. He needs help and he needs a manager. And companionship from people other than his wife. 
I guess what I don’t understand is the calloused attitude so many have – knowing full well that if it happened to them, their choices would be as difficult as mine. I’ve literally had people tell me that if he didn’t get better, couldn’t get back to normal, that I should leave him. Yes, they have said exactly that and worse. 
I’m just saying: What is wrong with people? 
 I’ve heard too many calloused, insensitive comments over the past 10 years. Would people start treating others with more love and light if they ate right? If they stopped buying guns and eating meat from murdered animals, would they become softer hearted? Would they be more generous to the planet, the forests, the waterways if they ate more fresh foods that grow from the ground or swam in the sea?



People have unfriended me because I speak my mind articulately and eloquently. People have bragged about feeding the homeless or giving to their church while doing nothing to help those they are staring at. Maybe they need that separation. It’s like they get kudos for feeding strangers, but it scares them to help a friend or a relative. People who have plenty are expecting freebies while frowning on those who can’t afford whatever.
Yesterday I was called a very nasty, nasty woman, told I was a liberal twit, and later called a lesbian. Huh? I thought about it. I wrote back: Fuck Yeah, I am. I’m a NASTY WOMAN and I own it. LOL What these people seem to think is that compassion and consideration for others is a sin. I’ll never understand that. 
I’m not going to let this stranger bother me. It is truly all about taking care of myself, fighting when it’s right, standing up and standing my ground. With joy in my heart, I resist the haters.
I don’t care who you voted for. I don’t care that you have a different religion. I don’t care if you go to church and I don’t care if you don’t. If you are a human being, I expect you to act like you have a heart even if you lost it somewhere. 

New Super Food: Marijuana heals – Find out who is really behind blocking the plant use

Marijuana! If it’s so good why is it so bad?

New Super Food! Ok, it’s not new at all. And it’s not really a food. Marijuana – Cannabis – a plant that has far ranging benefits. My OB/Gyn mentioned cannabis when I asked about pain management. It’s no joke. It’s not just an excuse to get wasted. There are true medicinal and healthy lifestyle benefits from the mighty green. It’s a super plant.  Cannabis heals and helps people all over the world.

The Magic is in the Flower. It gives flower power a new meaning.

Marijuana – or Cannabis – does a lot of good. It helps a wide variety of people with a wide variety of ailments. It can be recreational or it can be medicinal.  Or Both. Marijuana! It’s time to break down the stigma and learn some truths. And coming from me, a long time health fanatic, it’s almost a contradiction – except that it’s not. Once I learned the truth, studied the history, studied the medicinal uses, it all became clear. It’s a plant. The real value comes when you use it with the right intention.

THE NEW SUPER FOOD!  Marijuana – it does more good than bad. When used with the right intention, it’s becoming the common choice for medical solutions too complicated for medical doctors to understand.

PTSD, Chronic Pain, Inflammation, Arthritis, Nausea, Skin issues, MS, and a bunch of other things are helped with no side effects. Doctors don’t seem to want to know. Less damage than wine, less toxic than most pills, double the anti-inflammatory effect than hydrocortisone with NONE of the side effects, sleep aid, energy, creative stimulus… It’s genius!

marijuana - it's a super plant

Medical Marijuana – A Natural Solution


And yet – the real opposition has nothing to do with abuse or addictions. Looks like it has everything to do with profit margins and fear of losing control – not by the people but by the corporate systems. It’s a threat to a major profit machine.

Weird. When one asks themselves why a doctor would ignore this simple, effective, non-toxic solution, or why the DEA refuses to change the schedule to make it non-criminal, there has to be a profit motive. It can’t be anything else. It’s not weird. It’s either misunderstood or it’s about money. Even when I completed the Anti-Inflammation and Oncology classes at Arizona State, nothing was mentioned about medicinal weed — AND THEY ARE THE FRONTRUNNERS on inflammation.
My recent studies indicate that pot has double the anti-inflammation effect than hydrocortisone.  It helps with PTSD, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, MS, CFS, Arthritis Pain, Epilepsy, Phantom Pain, and some say it can help with Alzheimers….   And NO side effects.

I’d talked with my OB/GYN. I went in for an annual visit. I asked her about pain management because this hip thing is destroying my ability to manage the rest of my life. We talked at length. She’s sold on the benefits, but can’t prescribe? What? Wait – it’s legal. I’ll just go to the store. When Washington State forced the Medical MJ shops to close, we lost valuable resources here. It’s really frustrating. And Fun because I’m learning. There is so much more to this than I’d ever imagined.

This isn’t the same weed I knew as a kid. It’s a sophisticated system of growing, and sophisticated delivery. Plus – I don’t want to get high. Not really. I made a commitment decades ago.

But now I read about the true reasons this plant became a controlled substance.

Care Partners Life

Love. Love what matters. Love what is real. Don’t feed the fear monsters… I rally because I’m tired. I rally because too many times, I’ve tried to talk with friends and ended up feeling worse not better. Care Partnering means doing what I can to help my partner – my husband. It means we work together for better living. We team up. We work through it together.  Simple thought. Better Words.

I’m tired of hearing:
“You do too much for him. You should make him do that. Why can’t he do that? Why are you doing that for him? You need to take care of yourself! Why don’t you just stop doing stuff for him? Let him do it himself. He just needs to buck up and fight for his life. He just needs to push himself harder ”  And frankly, the next people who offer this kind of advice may not like the responses I give next.

It’s abundantly clear to us. Isn’t it to you? All this kind of judgemental advice does is make the person who says it feel better. The FACT is this kind of ill advice takes away the energy and the focus needed to help a loved one.

Being a Care Partner is different. Care Partnering leaves the person whole. Care Partnering empowers. Care Partnering is a better label. For I am no longer a caregiver. I don’t show up, help, and go home to my family. I don’t get paid barely minimum wage to do what I do. I don’t handle hygiene, medication, or other things that a CNA would do.

Care Partnering is a combination of things – financial, medical coordination, insurance, legal, household, estate, food, shopping, phone calling, scheduling, managing everything but the basic ADL’s. (activities of daily living, in case you haven’t heard that one yet.)

As a Care Partner, my role doesn’t change a bit. I still do what I do. Most couldn’t do it. But I am no caregiver.

Lessons Learned

20160704-IMG_1391Hey Friends,
Happy Independence Day. As I walked home alone from the neighborhood fireworks display, I realized how lonely it has become as a caregiver spouse. All the families were bunched in groups. They were happily engaged. Usually, people engage in friendly chatter with neighbors, but not this night. I sat alone. No one said much at all.

The night’s cheeriest greeting came from a kid as four young boys rode past me in the dark. He whooshed past me and called out Happy New Year.

I replied in kind. And smiled. For every single day can be a new beginning. If we let it. If we continue to wake each morning knowing that today is a new day. And for me, it’s all I’ve got. One new day after another. What that simple call out of a Happy New Year wish did for me was more than any fireworks show: it put a smile on my face. I knew that not only would tomorrow come, but the lonely night was at an end. All I needed to do was limp the remaining blocks home.

young woman in panic

Lessons learned are hard to face.

Living with a spouse who suffers from a little understood, chronic disease means a life filled with philosophical lessons learned. It has destroyed me. It has taken too much. I do what I can but it’s never enough.

While I put me aside to help him, I didn’t find the focus needed to build what I thought would be a fun and fruitful business. I didn’t find that new job either. I’ve been caregiver,  advocate,  business builder, job seeker and more for 8 years — much has been lost including dreams, friends, family…

Really, I did what any loving spouse would do under the circumstances. You just do what you can to help that person — whether it’s a week or a month or a decade, you do exactly what I’ve done. If you are lucky, you can hire help and family shows up to give a hand here or there. I’ve talked with many who agree — you do whatever you can.

No amount of healthy eating can change a disastrous illness. He can’t trick this thing into submission. A lifetime of green juice and avocado doesn’t cure it. Eating healthy for the sake of good health is but one way to help oneself.

Accepting that diagnosis pushed him off the health wagon.

I can’t fix it. Screw it.
There comes a time. That time is now. It’s just time to take my life and rebuild it.

No amount of platitudes relieves the constant worry which I so ably push aside to deal with the moment or the day. No amount of healthy positive attitude interrupts this cycle of hell. No amount of meditation, writing, exercise, or gratitude fixes what’s broken.  And yet – it’s what I have to cope.  It’s easy to stay in a weird form of denial, but one can’t swim upstream forever. Not without help. Not without a life raft. I need that raft NOW.

Coping skills are strong – I’ve been doing this too long. The only thing I really know is that my expertise in healthy living feels like a bunch of lies.

In ten years, he’s not gone more than 2 months without a relapse.  I don’t know which person shows up for the day. What I do know is my encouraging words are now empty zones. I can say something or not. If he wants to eat comfort foods like an opiate, that’s his choice.

The truth: It’s time to just turn it all over to God – God as I UNDERSTAND HIM – a higher power that is not me. I learned a different concept of Spirituality. It works for me. I’m not in control. I don’t need to be converted from my origins. I don’t need a new religion. It’s always interesting how some want me to change my religion to make them feel like they’ve done something to help.  And when I stick to my origins, they practice exclusion. Actually, it’s not interesting. It’s annoying.

When the caregiver is burnt out, there is nowhere to hide.

What sucks most is what I pondered yesterday. I finally got the big lesson learned. It’s not the loss of family. It’s not the loss of friends. It’s not even the loss of activities once loved and many once shared.  It’s the loss of independence! That’s what it is.  So yeah, Happy Independence Day!


Game Changer

The Game Changer: Inflammation

It’s time for a game changer. While many health fads come and go, the anti-inflammation solution is here to stay. Focusing on fighting inflammation …

Life Pushed. I’m pushing back!  When I started health coaching and making my obsession with healthy living a way to share the legacy passed on to me by my parents, I wasn’t sure what would really come of it.  We studied hundreds of dietary theory, nutrition, science, trend.  The bottom line is Health matters. And it’s really confusing. It’s also hugely controversial. Too many antagonists insist their way is the only way. I guess I’m about to throw my hat in the ring as the Anti-Inflammation expert.

The plan was to enlighten and ignite others with a renewed healthy passion. Classes, workshops, retreats, and of course writing copy and content for myself and others. I’m a writer, right? We want to be out there living! The best way to do it is to manage our health as best we can. At 55, I was at the prime time to do something that would help others, be fun, and replace my previous career.

And then it happened. I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I was now loaded with current information, creds, and a background that included Foods, Nutrition, Meal Planning and Culinary expertise.  I was focused on helping people like me – later in life and not remotely ready to sit down and rest. Who hoo!  I was a real health coach and authority. Thrilled to be a part of the great Ripple Effect, I was ready to leave my technical career behind. I moved forward with a focused niche in writing, coaching and teaching. I’d have the best of both worlds: Copy and content writing and directly helping others get better and live better.  It was not my plan to be smacked down with a big game changer. Read More→

A Day A Week A Month Living with CFS ME

A Day A Week A Month

How to live so that CFS ME doesn’t suck the life out of the wife!!!

Started to write a post about a day in the life with someone who has CFS / ME because it’s such a confusing and fluctuating ordeal. Many ask me why he can’t do this, that or the other thing. Or how it is that he can one day, but not the next. This is so baffling I can easily say it’s worse than cancer, or losing a limb, or this or that… but you’ve all heard it before. What you don’t hear much about is how we keep up hope, love, and a glimmer of courage.  What I rarely do is cry for help — for most often I get advice but not help.

At first, I was angry and frustrated. How could this happen? What did I do so wrong that life became such hell?  I’m a nice person who usually goes out of her way to help friends and family. I’m a good woman. Why! Why! Why!  But that was so long ago. Now? I’m just grateful for the love we share. It’s not easy. It’s hell. It’s terrifying. But it is what it is and I decided long ago: I don’t run away from this just because it’s hard, I’m scared, and we aren’t finding a cure.  Leaving would be cruel and selfish. Living with someone who has cfs  me forces a patience usually reserved for the dying – but it’s less predictable. And there is no endpoint.
thornyloveSo we go day to day. People do. They get by. They find ways.

Not to whine — we kept trying to figure out a flexible career.  We found people loved our team approach and we loved the creative ways we could serve. Photography is a gift. Words flow. And Design? it’s what we did in the corporate realm so we offered the same approach to smaller ops.  It was our key selling point.   Together we made a good team. 

Read More→

Hearts Line

Hearts Line – Telling friends what was going on meant laying our hearts on the line. Living with the unknown, knowing a chronic illness was sucking the life out of us both — it was too much to bear. Hearts Line is about loving  the line of life with a chronic illness. Hearts Line. It’s what carries us forward. 

2 years ago – Crowd Funding – Honesty and Fear
We became transparent. We told the truth. Chronic Illness was killing us. We had few options. 

Was it worth it? I often wonder. 

Like the first little bloom -- fighting our way through the cold and dark ..

Like the first little bloom — fighting our way through the cold and dark ..

After 13 years of chronic illness, some years better than others, but a constant chasing the dragon, I know it was worth it. Knowing the dragon by name, calming it’s flames, and constantly seeking ways to survive with its crazy constant surprises .. it means we live with a dragon. Better the beast you know, right?  We’d chased doctors for 13 years. From the day after my Dad died until today, Rick’s fought this demon and it’s invisible, unkind, unpredictable, and constantly changing and challenging.

12 Step Principles applied to daily life with a chronic illness such as CFS / ME 

This CFS / ME is worse than dealing with an addiction. There is no beverage or substance to blame.
And yet, without the tools of the program, there is no surviving this.  The first principle I had to repeat daily was that I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.  It’s so important. Remembering this meant sanity. It meant I was not in charge of his recovery, I could help, I could guide, but ultimately, it’s not in our control. 
The 3s:
The three c’s are as important in chronic illness as they are in accepting an addiction.  So are the three A’s — Awareness, Acceptance and then Action. Until these are grasped, there is no serenity, no mindful awareness, no appropriate and timely action. Rushing into solutions can often cause more problems.

Read More→

It’s always something!

It’s always something!

Yep – we now know my limit on supporting someone with a chronic illness and it’s a good thing. It’s been a weirdly heated week. I consider myself informed, patient, understanding, and caring. But my limit — when complete strangers start telling my spouse that I am undermining his recovery or harming him in any way.

I just want to scream! It’s always something on these stupid online forums.

young woman in panic

young woman in panic

Bottom line:  Beware the predators on online self-help quasi-medical forums. There are tons of support groups on facebook — many start out as a group where people can join to share common experiences.  They all seem to become a medical forum where lay people give other lay people medical advice.  Just stay out of there.

In my training as an integrative health coach practitioner, and my experience as a human being — giving unqualified medical advice, prescribing medicine, treatments, and supplements, or telling people exactly how they need to demand tests or social services is just wrong! I recommend people just find a medical person who can help, guide, and help you to make sense of it all. That’s what my guy does. At no charge, I can simply ask him what he thinks of some idea, and I get a well composed, logical, science-based outcome.

Giving unqualified medical advice, prescriptions, or diagnosis, or telling people exactly how they need to demand tests or social services is just wrong! It is one thing to say “I am trying this and you might have luck with it” and another to say: “You have to get this testing to properly diagnose and it  is only done in one place and no one else can help you”  or to say that there is only one cure for an illness for which there is no known cure. Lay people can’t touch this stuff. Professionals are under strict laws regulating what they can do.

And you can’t march into a social services agency and demand services that they don’t offer or demand services that you haven’t proven you qualify for. Entitlement attitudes are what are destroying what was a good idea to help others. That’s the root of the problem.

I recommend people just find a medical practitioner you feel you can trust — and stay out of these forums.  Our experience this week has given me a full on new perspective and attitude.  I suddenly got it.

Heidi H and Elaine B felt so threatened they needed to have me banned from their little imaginary fiefdoms — and that means I must be a powerhouse that threatens their self-esteem. That’s awesome. I’m powerful.   It’s so funny — so funny to suddenly see it from this viewpoint. I’m not a victim. I’m a powerful threat. hah.

Well, Heidi and Elaine,  bless your hearts. You’ve done far more good than you can possibly know.

Great Ways to Get Healthy

Great Ways to Get Healthy
It’s not a magic trick. It’s mind management.

Great Ways to Get Healthy also means Great Ways to save time and be cost efficient.  When you make one meal, make two or three for later.
It’s about advance preparation with mindful planning. think about it. Fast foods became ever more popular because we were suddenly 2 income families. What I propose is you can still enjoy fast foods — but you are about to make your own food faster, like it better, and feel better afterwards.

Chop the scallions and store. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower florets and store. Slice those cucumbers. Prepare in advance whatever you can. It’s planning and staging things so that when you want it you can have it. For years, I’d pre-pack little baggies of fruits and vegetables to bring to work. I know a working Mom who is happy to do so for her children, but she relies on Costco prepackaged hard boiled eggs for herself.  What the? Why not just boil the eggs and prepackage them yourself? 11 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Save money, save time, be healthy. You have no idea what Costco adds to those eggs to make them stay fresh longer.

One evening, I found myself chopping up salad ingredients and decided the heck with it. I cleaned all the produce we’d just purchased, chopped everything up and put it in small sealed containers. Suddenly, a salad was going to take 5 minutes instead of 30. Adding vegetables to other dishes was a breeze. Omelette with vegetables? Rice Bowl with a little-spiced chicken and veggies? Done in no time.  Mise en Place makes for a high efficient kitchen. Especially if you’ve got a needy loved one or if you are injured yourself. Save yourself the time and stress. Get it done in advance.

So many have openly wondered how I do it or how they can better do this caregiving thing. We are all fast reaching that the point where someone we love is going to need help. And with my tips, you can make it both cost effective and easier. You’ll love the results because you’ll enjoy better health, more energy, and maybe more patience. Trust me, patience is essential. And to maintain that, you need to nurture yourself as much as you need to nurture your loved one.

I want to share my favorite tips for making this journey easier.

First up is food preparation:
It’s always easier to prepare your produce in advance.

When you have all the foods prechopped and ready to go, you have extra time to get creative. So do your shopping for 3 – 5 days, clean it, chop it, and store it so you can just toss it into a salad, a tuna casserole, or whatever.  Yes, you lose a little bit of nutrient when you clean and chop your carrots first, but that is vastly better than not eating your fruits and vegetables. The best way to ensure you eat your fruit and vegies is have them as readily available as the cookies. If it is there and ready, you are far more apt to enjoy the healthy side of life.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 2.50.13 PMIt even works with a roasted chicken.  Roast your own! Don’t just buy one. Buy and roast two chickens.  Enjoy one with your first meal.  Carve some slices for sandwiches, cut some chops for salads, enchiladas, or add-ins for chicken soup.  And don’t throw out the bone, drippings or neck. Throw all of that in a pot, cover with water, add carrot, onion, and celery, add seasonings. Bring that pot to a boil, and then simmer for hours.  It’s a good idea to skim the top of all that bubbly stuff before the fat renders to the top. That is usually a little dirt and your soup tastes much better without it. Cook it down until all the ingredients are falling apart, then strain it off. Now you have a lovely broth that you can cook down to a stock or enjoy as a rich broth. Folks – that is about 5  and maybe 6 meals with 2 chickens and only one roasted chicken mess to clean up.  Not bad!

I don’t make a big production of it. I just take the time to clean it all while I am preparing one meal. That way I don’t make Sunday a cooking day. You can. I know people who spend every Sunday prepping and cooking and packaging portion sized meals. You’ll have to figure it out. But get it done.

Next up: Get Blending
It’s really fun, simple, and fast. The best smoothies and soups are made with market fresh ingredients and whole foods. If you are like me, sometimes breakfast is a bit tough and I won’t do raw eggs in my smoothy any more. I found a great soy free, dairy free protein based on rice protein. It’s called RAW Garden of Life. I’ve checked with the vendors. This is a great product.


I admit it. I am affiliated with BlendTec. They approached me, asked me to try out their blender, and you know what? It does a great job at nearly everything. I’ve posted a couple links on my page because I can get you a nice deal. It looks like even the refurbished models which are already a great price, provide you another $100 off if you click my link from the page bottom.
But the real deal is this: Buy the best you can afford, store it in a convenient place, and USE IT. I’ve included the Blend Tec recipe book for you to kick off your crazy happy blending.

Journey back to self – will you do it

Journey Back to Self is a journey of a lifetime.

This Journey Back To Self isn’t for sissies. This Journey Back to Self requires a lot of internal work — work that many just won’t do. My life depends on it.

It’s pretty clear – caregiving sucks the passion right out of some. At first, it begins with a loving gesture. Over time .. over the years.. it becomes a necessary aide given when someone needs it most. Most of us feel we are doing what any loving spouse, daughter, or friend would do. So how does one separate need from dependency? How does one save themselves after nearly all had to be let go? And how does one avoid stupid altercations with people who have no good intent, but choose to inflame as if their egos demand it while they find ways to avoid direct help – even if that help is a truly helpful action or well wish?

Today, I am aware. Tomorrow, I may fall back to denial. Today I feel clear. Tomorrow, I’ll most likely be as muddied and frustrated as ever. In this article, I’ll share some of what I am doing to recapture that love of self…and I’ll also provide a list of 7 likely resources for respite.  Read More→