I don’t even know how to do it … to start, I mean, because the whole thing is so complex and meandering. Like any woman’s brain, one thing leads to another, and like any neuro-divergent, the easiest path from here to there includes a jaunt over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house, and yeah, she’s a part of all of this too isn’t she? So, really how do I start?
My supervisor at work says the best place to start is … wait for it… at the beginning! We enforce financial child support obligations. It’s complex too, and one thing always leads through the woods and before the answer is discovered, five more questions pop up. But always she reminds me to start at the beginning. I’m not sure that works in this situation, this revealing of my not so deep, dark secret, but a confession of the one that’s right on the edge of the slippery slope where everyone can and has seen me frolic.… Yeah… the beginning is not going to work.
I’m not me right now. I know me, I know who I am, but I’m kind of lost. There are plenty of reasons why but this is where I’m at and writing has always soothed me and been a part of me and… well, I have a blog, might as well use it...
I have always considered myself an odd duck, the older I get the more I think most people think this about themselves on some level… “I am different than the rest.” So maybe I’m not as odd as I think, but I suspect I fall somewhere on the quirky side of life, because of ADHD? because of upbringing? because of my controversial artist mind? Who knows.
I also know I tend toward depression. Depression coupled with ADHD is more like a frenzied, fury of pent-up energy unsure of where to go or what to do than it is a feeble soul curled up in bed wishing the world away. The best I can describe it is like one of those mini-penny-cars from my childhood. The tiny, rubber-wheeled cars had a slot in the back where a penny could be inserted for weight. The car was spring loaded and after it was pulled back, it could be let loose. They would do wheelies and spin like crazy but never really go anywhere. Forget putting one on a track to get from A to B, or write a book, nope, just a bunch of kinetic energy turned loose for no particular reason.
I have an incredible urge to run, run far and fast, to start over, not so much to escape but to take away the burden that is me… like this… from those I love most. It does almost seem like a better idea to leave than to put them through this. I was a fun chick, I brought joy and love, now I suck the life from people. It’s not what I want to do.
I have my moments of happiness and joy, I have a divergent attention span how could I not? I can be genuinely tickled by something or caught up in passion and everything, everything seems good and right in the world. I can do my job, tell my husband good things, learn, write, help people but the car keeps pulling back and the energy has to do something and usually the frenzy isn’t pretty.
I have a new life. It’s a great life. Together my new husband, Jeremy, and I are realizing things both of us have dreamed of... but it is not what it once was. Jeremy says it’s probably part of the grief cycle, but I don’t want to grieve. I was left! Now I have this great man who loves me so wonderfully and communicates in a way I can understand, why would I want to grieve he who left me any longer or the family that once was but by now would be grown-up and different anyway?
I have lost much of my spiritual strength and fellowship. I never quite replaced the church I had in Arlington but I haven’t found a church home since I left Leavenworth in 2015… that’s a long time with no church roots. Maybe I’m picky but nothing’s been quite right. Well, Calvary Crossroads, but then I moved right when I was settling in. I tried to find something closer but nothing yet. I feel far from God. I don’t memorize like I used to and feel like I’m always on the spiritual defense. I’m exhausted, and I know I brought this on myself but I need a safe place to spiritually land.
I am terrified of being left again! I’ve never been an anxious person, but I actually have anxiety over it and fluctuate between clingy, needy and desperate and ready to pack my bags and go do it on my own so I don’t have to fear being left again.
My gramma is fading away. She’s my steady in life. I do not know life without her. She didn’t answer the phone yesterday when I called, how long until she never answers? How long until she forgets me? It’s hard enough to take care of her bills and finances but the fact that I’m doing it because she’s going away and my aunt is sick makes it so much worse.
And then there’s the thing… all of that purge above is probably just a cover for it, maybe? No, I think they’re valid reasons to be “lost,” but the thing… the thing... is really probably THE issue. But I guess I have another week to prepare to go there, because I’ve used up all my words for this post...
Here we are, another year down, another opportunity to reflect and, as it turns out for me, re-direct as I look toward at the new year. I am unashamed to admit that I’m a planner, goal setter and resolution maker. I have great expectations for 2019… you know the books (reading & writing them), the races (a 5k and at least one half-marathon), the growth (spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally, relationally), the trips & travel, remodel & reconstruction, and letting go of alcohol… or making it let go of me (but I’m still not quite ready to write about that...yet).
I don't think there's ever been a year where I've met all my goals (or even 50% of them) but oh how I love the process of looking forward and developing the life I’ve been given!
It's fascinating to me how some people don't plan. I asked people, “Do you make new year’s goals or resolutions?” I got a ton of answers. I identified with goal setters, but the non-goal answers intrigued me. It’s like another language I can’t understand. I appreciated the answers and though I still don’t get it, I hope I heard the heart behind their answers.
For many, the reason for not setting “New Year” goals or resolutions was an aversion to waiting, for a particular day. If I comprehended correctly, these people live in “the moment.” For them, there’s no better time than now, no reason to wait for later. They make a goal and set off on the journey immediately. They don’t hesitate. It was beautiful to me, and I suspect these, non-new year goal setters also start workout routines or diets on Wednesdays or Saturdays, and don’t wait until Monday. I bet they “strike while the iron is hot” and seize opportunities as they present themselves. It’s a beautiful perspective!
There was another group who didn’t plan or plot because of fate, or God. This group felt that a plan would somehow thwart or be thwarted by God, or fate and so they therefore resist the urge to plan out of obedience, or resignation to their Higher Power. This, of all the perspectives, was most difficult for me, and because it is so foreign to me, was fascinating. I can’t imagine just living life on a whim, going where the wind or Spirit leads (although this year, living with the Chicken Farmer, I’ve come to see it in action). Because of my ADHD I screw up more than I’d like to admit with scheduling but still, I need a plan! I need to know what’s next. To them it feels freeing, to “Let go and Let God” to release control, to “follow your bliss”… to me, it feels aimless, like a ship with no anchor or compass. A life lived un-tethered. Not wrong, just foreign to my natural sensibilities.
A third group’s reasons for not setting goals were fear based: Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of change, fear of the unknown, the stress the goal can create, or the concern that their planning for the future some how denotes a lack of trust in God. It makes me sad that people would resist setting a goal because they are afraid.
All of this reflection on other’s answers is simply to speak my peace quietly and clearly: The world needs spontaneity and, in many ways, I wonder what it would be like to “be like that.” I am different. I relish the challenge of a task; like a gauntlet, laid out before me, I’m energized by the work a goal requires and trust in the Lord to lead me… or re-direct me as He has for this year. I trust God to give me vision, to guide me on the journey I have prayed, planned and prepared for. Clearly, God has designed and created me to love a good plan (even though I often fail when I make them), to crave challenge and character building conquests (even when some of the character traits are so ingrained it’s almost impossible to change), and to sally forth ever onward. I can question who I am, why I love to organize my life and make plans and set goals even when I know I’ll fail and fall short; or I can trust God made me just as I am. It's not wrong for me to love new beginnings and look forward to starting lines, it's not wrong for others to wing-it and go where the Spirit leads, we are all uniquely and wonderfully made and it makes for a beautiful mosaic of humanity.
Happy New Year… may the LORD bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you peace as you journey through life in 2019!
Meanwhile reality sets in and the dreamer, neck-deep in a new marriage, job search and non-fiction writing project exploring tempting and taboo sexual habits and spiritual beliefs, has to sideline life to focus on the sad-but-true actuality of dementia symptoms in a middle-class, eighty-something, widow she calls the Gramma lady…
It’s strange being appointed the Power of Attorney for a woman who sometimes resembled a mother, sometimes a persnickety, Pentecostal matriarch, sometimes doting grandmother. I didn’t ask for the position but an unfortunate series of events brought me to the role. My Auntie Kathy, the Gramma lady’s second born, had been the Power of Attorney for years. I, an ignorant grandchild visited blissfully with the Gramma lady as often as I could after the passing of Gramps, the patriarch that we all loved. I wanted to be in her life, like I was in Gramps until the end of her days. I knew much of the fabric of me was woven by her hands, her hymns and her reprimands. She bathed me, fed me, held me when my dad worked too much and my mother partied too much. She sang songs about blood and power to me when it otherwise would have been a dark and lonely childhood. She told me stories of her daddy and a war I only knew from movies and her worn-out, re-told tales. She visited me when my father’s work took me thousands of miles away from the rest of my family. She took me in when my mother kicked me out. She watched my boys while I got high. She was the Gramma lady I took for granted.
And then by a miracle of grace, God, for some reason, reached through my addiction and got my attention. The first place I went after the alter, was to them, Gramps and the Gramma lady. And like always, they were there. He, with air sucked through his teeth and funny little jokes or tricks to make me laugh, and she with hymns and too many words and lessons about life and the past.
I was an adult, they were retirees and great-grandparents to my boys. They (along with another set of dearly loved great-grandparents) fed them when I was getting on my feet but too poor to feed them myself. They gave us furniture and life lessons and way too much food. They proclaimed the gospel truth of Jesus not only in word but in deed. They were good and faithful servants.
Then as this life does, it came to call. In a moment, which actually stretched painfully long, Gramps was taken in a beautiful but melancholy way, home to heaven, and the Gramma lady was left alone again.
See, she’d been alone before… we all know the story; her daddy went to war and she was left alone. I didn’t want her to be so alone so I went to visit as often as I could. I knew how loneliness rots away at the bones and soul and didn’t want that to happen to the lady who woke me up for school and was at the dawn of almost all my early days. So I visited. After our family moved a hundred or so miles away I called regularly and visited once a month. I helped with bills and ‘lifting things’ when I could and left the hard work to my auntie.
Then cancer came calling for auntie Kathy. Who knows why, but it did. She got it and her life was suddenly about surviving. She is still fighting but couldn’t manage the Gramma lady’s affairs and her own struggle to live. The three siblings agreed, or something like that, and they asked me to be Power of Attorney.
Now here I am. 40 years old and in charge of a tiny estate. I have no idea what to do or how this will play out. All I know is I pledged my life to God nearly twenty years ago and He wants me to honor my father and mother. For much of my life, this Gramma lady was the closest thing to mother that I had, though I resented her. Additionally, though he’s largely absent, I have my own father to consider in this matter. Anything left will be partially his to split with his brother and sister… and me, because for some reason they included me in the will.
But will there even be anything left? The answer, according to “experts,” lawyers and people who have been down this road is… NO. Nothing will be left to pass on.
These two saints; imperfect, Pentecostal, preachers of the gospel, that they were, because they were middle-class and uneducated in the high cost of elder care will spend their lifetime of earnings and retirement on assisted living care until my Gramma is dead or has nothing left. Then and only then will she be able to qualify for Medicaid, a nice way to say welfare healthcare for the elderly.
I don’t know anything about this and here I am trying to pay my Gramma’s bills, protect her assets (which isn’t possible) and get her moved into a safe place. What I’ve been told now from more than one lawyer is, if she lives, in the mentally deteriorated state that she’s in for a long time, all of her assets will have to be “spent down” to pay for her medical expenses. It sucks!
I understand paying your way, I do, trust me, I do. I’m Italian, we work. We work long, and we work hard and we earn our keep. I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s sad to me that … if she lives a long time, which I hope she does, they will have nothing of all of their combined years of ministry, work and service to pass on. No, I’m not money grubbing, I actually want to make my own way in this world, but I am sad that life comes down to this for the middle-class in America.
‘“Meaningless! Meaningless!” Says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.’
Like the bible says, it is the circle of life, they’ll die, we’ll carry on, we’ll die, others will carry on… without hope it’s meaningless. But still… for all their hard work, it would be nice to have something, other than a medical or elder care facility bill at the end. I’ve talked to four lawyers, two friends and my most trusted confidant, not to mention countless individuals with ideas and input and there is nothing to do but spend her money until it’s gone, so that she can get on Medicaid (welfare). The alternative is to hope she dies sooner than later, sick, but it’s the alternative…
I can manage her bills and assets as responsibly and mindfully as I can, but there’s not much hope for the Gramma lady to have anything “left” for her heirs.
If there is any silver lining, it is this… not for she who came before me, but for us, the honest, hard-working middle-class, who won’t be rich, but will hopefully have enough of a legacy we’ve worked hard for to pass down to our kids and grand-kids…
What I’ve learned is this:
1) ABOVE ALL… know where you’ll go when you die. Search your soul, your heart, your mind. If you’re confident and at peace, good for you. If not, try Jesus, He’ll give you a peace that passes understanding. If you want to know more, email me, I’m happy to share!
2) BUY LONG-TERM DISABILITY INSURANCE as soon as possible!! If my Grandparents had this earlier, they could have protected their assets from the dreaded Medicaid look-back period because they would have been paying to fund their own elder care! It’s expensive, it’s a bear but trust me… if you want to leave anything to your heirs, it’s imperative!
3) GIVE YOUR ASSETS TO YOUR LOVED ONES WHILE YOU CAN ENJOY THEM ENJOYING THEM! If you have kids or grand-kids doing right by God, you and their fellow man… don’t hold on to your things like a greedy tyrant, give them their stuff while you’re healthy enough to avoid the look back and offer them sage advice. If you’re building an estate to pass on, and you have heirs responsible enough and old enough to pass them to, make it a fair deal, but pass them on now…
This is only from my little tiny bit of experience, and I’m sure there’ll be more as the days pass by, but that’s what I’ve got for now. Take care of you now, for when you’re older, and pass on to them now what you want to when you’re dead…
I am open for anything and everything anyone has to share. Our family is neck deep in this dementia transition and spend down. It’s overwhelming and we’d appreciate all the wisdom and sage advice we can get!
Goals, objectives, resolutions… whatever you call ‘em it’s time to put up or give up! Some are gearing up for the best, most productive and successful year of their lives so far! These are the people I plan to be associated with this year and to that end I’ve made one of my biggest goals… to follow several people from different local gyms, studios and fitness facilities as they work for their health and fitness goals (more to come on that next week!). I believe this series will be one of the most rewarding goals I achieve this year, but I do not think it’ll be considered the loftiest goal I set...
I’m a goal oriented person and New Year Goal setting gets me giddy for weeks leading up to January and, though I don’t always attain all my written goals, I make commendable progress that I wouldn’t otherwise achieve if I didn’t have my goals written down.
Last year I approached my goals differently. Usually I write and post them where I can see them & read them every day, or at least quite often. I didn’t do that in 2017, instead I made my goal more of a directive. I wanted to “Settle down & Focus.” Whatever aspect of my body, mind, soul or spirit I was working on, I wanted to ask myself two questions and be able to answer “yes” to one or the other. The questions were:
Will this settle me down?
Will this give me/help me focus?
2016 had been a year of carefree living. My publisher went out of business so I lost my drive to get books out. I was still “choosing” a church in Wenatchee and didn’t feel connected anywhere. To avoid the loneliness of being single; I went out A LOT, I spent A LOT, I raced A LOT, I dated A LOT. It was a year of hedonistic pleasure and soothing the pain of The Leaving.
I knew, however, I was made for more than living carelessly for simple pleasures. I was made to honor God with my body, mind, soul and spirit. I was made to love and help others and serve my fellow man. I was made to write. I was made to be a productive member of society, not just a greedy soul looking for what the world can give me… I knew I needed to settle down & focus.
I didn’t not anticipate the settling down to happen the way it did. If 2016 was about living carelessly, 2017 was all about him. The Mountain Man. He who built me a snow cave and melted my heart!
I planned to put an end to seriously dating at the end of 2016. I was not opposed to it, I’d just spent so much time entertaining so many men (without sex of course!) that I was literally exhausted. Yes, their attentions and affections kept me from being lonely but it didn’t meet my need for a partner or companion, and the flirting, the figuring someone out just to realize they weren’t into me or I wasn’t into them and having to start all over again… or have two or three ongoing pursuits at the same time wore me out. I knew I wanted a life-long partner, I knew God made me with a companionable soul, but it was too much. I needed a break.
Just before I closed down my online profile I met a guy. He was nice enough, definitely had the physique, wit and personality I liked, but he wasn’t a Christian, a gym rat, or a hiker so there were too many things dissimilar that I figured it wouldn’t work out. We built a friendship on that mutual understanding. I’m not gonna lie, there was chemistry too so we were friends who also kissed, but that was it. Then somehow, maybe it was the because I had mentally prepared to settle down and wasn’t really entertaining too many other men, maybe it was because his cadence through life was something my feet could follow easily, maybe it was because no matter how hard I tried to shake him off, he still showed up in all his brawny, ‘simple-man’ glory that was so attractive to me, maybe it was that unbelievably amazing snow cave he dug out...
Whatever it was… Jeremy Worley somehow became me focus in 2017. In July we decided to settle down together for the rest of our lives! We got married, I moved onto the chicken farm and we have thoroughly enjoyed all the pleasures of newlywedding!! With the settling in came a whole lot of firsts and new revelations and filtering through our rubbish and salvaging treasures from our pasts. We’ve each had to let go of old news and bad habits and are learning how to honor what we once had, while celebrating this new life together.
My 2017 goal was to “Settle down & Focus.” I achieved it; even if it wasn’t the way I planned. I settled down with a partner for life. I focused on getting all three of my books in the Road to Love series re-published. I got my credit card debt paid off. I did try to make a career move into a job that filled my soul, but that didn’t pan out the way I wanted, so I’m currently job hunting, but what’s life without risk, right?!
In keeping with the theme idea, I gave myself a word for 2018: GROW! I want to grow in all areas of my life. I have my SMART goals written down and now that I’ve settled down with the Mountain Man and he’s given me a place to call my own, by his side, on his mountain, in the safety of his belief in me… I’m confident this year will be an astonishing year of growth for us both.
So cheers to a 2018 full of growth & success from the Chicken Farm to you!
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