Kindness Fridays

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Can a baby purposefully exhibit kindness to others?

He doesn’t have to.

All of us came into this world without guile, judgment, or well-practiced hidden agendas. We didn’t learn that type of negative behavior until we got older and became seasoned in the fine art of selfishness and deception. I know, those are cruel and unfair words for me to say because I’m quite certain most of us do not purposefully act in a manner that is disingenuous or self-serving. With that said, however, I also know that one hundred percent of all babies are not capable of such mind games.

Our grandson – fully reliant on his parents, grandparents, and other adults – has every reason to consciously act in a manner that always guarantees the adults in his life will serve his every need. Fortunately, he doesn’t yet know how to do that. The innocence and pureness of his untainted mind has no room for such chicanery.

When my husband (his grandpa) repeatedly makes that silly noise that draws laughter from our grandson, the little guy isn’t running the following commentary through his head: Okay, that noise is kind of boring me at this point because it is SO yesterday, but I should probably laugh each and every time so I don’t hurt the old guy’s feelings. Nope, it doesn’t even occur to him to pretend because he is genuinely tickled by it. The laughter that comes from this absolutely adorable eight-month-old person is honest and outward-serving, not inward-serving.

When his mommy drops him off at our house on the two days we watch him every week, I can oftentimes be heard saying, “Is that my grandson? Oh my goodness, it is my grandson, I’m so happy to see you!” He breaks into that delightful, heart-melting smile of his, exuding pure kindness by his obvious delight at seeing his Grammo and Grandpa. When he smiles like that I think to myself: You’ve made my day, just by being you.

Our grandson gives out kindness free of charge, a kindness that isn’t dependent on his current circumstances, regardless of what they may be. Innocence is such a beautiful thing, isn’t it? A pure mind – that consequently holds only pure intentions – is one of the most valuable commodities on this earth. What a privilege it is for my husband and me to be on the receiving end of such goodness.

Many thanks go out to his parents for entrusting us with this grandparenting opportunity..

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Lighten up Mondays

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Lack of sleep is no laughing matter, says me who has recently entered the valley of insomnia and is trying to climb out. My daughter recently turned me on to a sleep/anti-anxiety app called Calm which I highly recommend. For pennies a day, it has thus far provided the respite I need to fall asleep at night. But knowing that even in the ickiest of times, we can find humor, today’s humor focuses on that ever-fleeting element of our lives: sleep.

  • I’m not always awake before 7 a.m. but when I am, it’s when I’ve yet to fall asleep.
  • I hate when I’m tired and sleepy and when I get to bed, my body says, “Just kidding.”
  • People who fall asleep quickly freak me out; I mean, don’t they have thoughts?
  • Me: let me sleep. Brain: LOL, no, let’s stay awake and remember every stupid decision you’ve ever made in your life. Me: Okay.
  • Dear 3 a.m., we have got to stop meeting this way; I’d much rather sleep with you.
  • When I can’t sleep I try counting sheep and then my ADHD kicks in: one sheep, two sheep, cow, pig, Old MacDonald had a farm, Hey Macarena!

Kindness Fridays

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The other day, I discovered something about myself and about the way of kindness.

It’s really easy to be kind when life is going grand.

Clarification. The kindness gene resides within me, just as it does in you if you feed it and let it flourish. I feel absolutely honest saying that my pattern of thinking reflects the best of kindness one can imagine. At the very least, my intentions are pure.

With that said, however, when I’m feeling less than 100% – say, 25% – I have to work hard at not letting others be on the receiving end of that less than whole person that I’ve become. I’ve had a lousy night of sleep while also fighting seriously inflamed sinuses? Ugh, I must rein in my struggles and not take it out on the receptionist at the doctor’s office, or the supermarket employee. I sincerely don’t want to be responsible for ruining someone else’s perfect, gloriously, healthy, well-slept day. (Gawd, I’m envious of those who have been given the gift of sleep.)

All it takes is one look, one word – or the omission of a word – to spew miserableness onto someone else.

Kindness is a way of life for me but sometimes it threatens to take a break from the norm and that’s when it’s needed the most in the world. You see, I’m not the only person who has less than stellar days. I’d be self-centered to think I’m the only person the world takes a dump on now and again. Everyone in this world is vulnerable – everyone – and far too many are on the brink of giving up. We are all in this together, in good times and in bad.

I vow to not contribute to the latter.

 

Long-term care: squeaky wheels and raging forest fires

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Although now retired, over a twelve-year period I worked in long-term care (LTC) wearing three different hats:

  • My first job in this industry was in the corporate office of a very fine assisted living and memory care company. In time, I decided to work in one of the company’s facilities so I could spend more time with the residents and families who chose our company for their LTC needs;
  • When I left the company, I took several years off to care for my father who had Alzheimer’s disease. A few years after his death, I became a certified long-term care ombudsman for the State of Washington – an advocate for vulnerable adults living in LTC settings;
  • Concurrent with my ombudsman work I became a trained Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator, providing a listening ear to those on the caregiving path.

Given all that experience, I’ve seen and heard of many unfortunate and nasty occurrences where residents and patients were denied the basic rights each living person should expect to receive, especially those dependent on others for their well-being and quality of life.

I’m sorry to say that some nursing homes, assisted living/memory care communities, and adult group homes do not employ sufficient staffing to meet the needs of their residents. I can confidently say that the government agencies that oversee the LTC industry are also understaffed. When complaints are called in, those government employees have to apply grease to the squeakiest wheels and must turn their fire hoses on the most out of control fires in their case files.

That’s where you and I come in.

We must be the squeakiest darn wheels we can be so our complaint(s) are attended to.

We also need to be the hottest, most devastating fire imaginable so that our vulnerable loved one’s rights are respected.

One grievous example. This is just one example of common issues that arise in LTC settings. The complaint process I mention later in this post provides a good starting point when issues arise.

Nursing home call lights are being ignored so that residents/patients are left to defecate and urinate in their adult sanitary garments on a routine basis. Not only is such an act demeaning to the poor soul with no option but to let go of his/her bodily wastes, but said wastes are sure to cause skin breakdown and a urinary tract infection that is not only extraordinarily painful but can also be life-threatening.

What does the family member/good friend do about this indignity? They need to complain vehemently to the administrator of said facility and when she/he does nothing or very little, family and friends contact the local area’s LTC ombudsman program. This website will direct you to ombudsman resources right where you live: National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.

Your local ombudsman program will investigate, work with the facility’s staff, and if need be, get the full force of the law to come to the defense of those in need. State ombudsman programs are staffed by paid and volunteer employees, therefore their staffing levels are usually higher than many government agencies. These ombudsmen all receive the same extensive training required for such a vital role. Once you’ve reached a dead end at the facility, ombudsmen are your most active line of defense. They are passionate about what they do and they will ceaselessly advocate for you and your loved ones. Their proximity to appropriate resources and their intimate knowledge of residents’ rights laws makes them an approachable and viable alternative for the common man’s (yours and my) needs. Caveat: if you suspect criminal activities such as physical or sexual assault law enforcement needs to be immediately involved in the matter. Additionally, severe lack of care that endangers the lives and well-being of adults more likely than not will also require law enforcement involvement.

Adults in long-term care settings are a reflection of you and me. By that I mean they were once active and self-reliant adults, just like many of you reading this piece, but they now find themselves unable to fend for themselves and need you and me to step in for them. Imagine, if you will, being in their shoes, unable to speak up for yourself. If you or I ever find ourselves in a similarly vulnerable situation, wouldn’t you want an advocate to step in on your behalf?

Advocacy for vulnerable adults falls on all of our shoulders. You can make a difference in the life of your loved one. Won’t you please step up to become their most important advocate?

Lighten up Mondays

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New Years’ Resolutions usually include much talk about dieting, therefore, here are some real Tweets spotlighting this practice. (I won’t post the names of the Tweeters.)

  • My snack got lost in my purse so I guess I’m on a diet now
  • I’m not interested in any diet that doesn’t allow rollover calories
  • Being on a diet isn’t so bad if you don’t follow it
  • They accidentally put lettuce on my Five Guys burger so I guess I’m officially dieting now
  • If we lose weight when we stop drinking diet cola, just think how much we’d lose if we stopped dieting
  • Apparently, my normal daily diet is something athletic people call “carbo-loading”
  • Those of you on Facebook who are going on a cleanse diet, let me save you some time and tell you what happens: 1) you will be hungry; 2) you will poop your pants during your commute to work

 

An author’s gratitude

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Happy New Year, and thank you for reading my novel, Requiem for the status quo. By doing so, you have honored my father, Don Patrick Desonier, to whom my novel was dedicated. My family’s story was one that simply needed to be told, and although it was published as fiction, Requiem certainly reflects some of the personal experiences that stood out most during my father’s disease journey.

I waited until five years after my father’s passing to start writing my novel because quite frankly, I needed to lock away – both figuratively and literally – the many journals into which I jotted down notes and difficult sentiments. The mourning period wouldn’t have been complete, however, without sharing the ins and outs of my father’s illness. You don’t go through a family caregiving journey without learning some lessons – both about yourself and the disease that robbed a loved one of a sound mind and body in his later years.

For more titles on this subject matter, go to http://www.alzauthors.com

To be sure, I felt that if others could benefit from the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned then by Gawd, I needed to sit down and learn how to become a writer. And that’s what I did. The first version of my novel was 140,000 words which equates to approximately 525 pages in length. Now I knew I was no James Michener, Ken Follett, or Stephen King so over a four year period I sliced and diced it down to 68,000 words – a palatable 206 pages in length.

It was those 206 pages that eventually got published by Black Rose Writing and elicited countless five-star reviews. Reviews are the bread and butter of those who make products, whether that product is the latest electronic gadget or the heartfelt novel of a debut author like me. If you have yet to write a review, I covet a few minutes of your time to do so before another minute goes by. I’ll even make it extraordinarily easy for you. Simply click right here to be immediately taken to the Amazon page where my novel appears.

You don’t have to be super creative in your review, just write how you felt about the characters I chose to include in an attempt to further people’s general knowledge of how dementia affects the patient and their loved ones. You didn’t even have to fall in love with my writing style – I know I’m not an experienced writer with dozens of published books to my name. But if you benefited at all from what Requiem had to offer, I sure would love to hear from you via your review on Amazon.com.

I hope 2018 treats you well. My wish for you is that you be clothed in health, wholeness, and happiness and that you spread the same to others you encounter.

Kindness Fridays

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2017 was a year of conflicting emotions for me. There were many good times. These two stood out: our grandson was born and my novel, Requiem for the status quo, was published. But there were also times I’d like to forget, and once my hip gets better after this past October’s bionic replacement, that will become one of the most forgettable events of the year.

Kindness, however, wins out and drowns out the not-so-pleasant occurrences that can cause stumbling blocks to our gentle psyche. So on this last Kindness Friday of 2017, I’m posting links to a few of my favorites in the hopes that while I’m encouraged by past Kindnesses, you can be as well.

June 30th, 2017: walk away from cruelty

April 14th, 2017: kindness trumps all

March 17th, 2017: courtesy on the road

March 10th, 2017: my husband’s perfect eyesight

January 6th, 2017: 1st Kindness Fridays – Mall kindness