Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


Leave a comment

Progress

I have been enjoying working with my lady and the organizing we have been attempting to. Here is one of the before and after photos I have:

I’m not sure what you think about that. Is it like, wow! What a huge difference!  Or is it like, big deal! It’s just one small wall.

I guess both statements are true. This job has gotten me thinking more about the dynamics around hoarding vs. disorganization. Usually when I go to a typical home where things have gotten a little out of hand, folks are just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Once we get going, they pick up momentum and catch on to my method. Next time I go there, I find they have been working on their own and making great progress.  Most people love feeling more free and less encumbered.

With hoarding, or on your way to being one, it seems to be a different dynamic. It usually develops over many, many years. I think people become completely unaware of how their environment has affected them. This lovely lady I work with sits quietly when I get excited about the finished section. I will tell her how great it looks and she will say calmly, “Whatever you say. I thought it was fine before.”  And I believe she really feels that way.

I am hoping with time she will develop some intrinsic motivation. If she doesn’t, I know what will happen. Things will just return to the way they were, which will put her at risk with the building managers. Keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers for her.


2 Comments

Paying Forward

We got a new carpet this week. A crew of three came to rip up the old and put in the new. One was a female. The guys told me they love working with her because she works harder than 95% of the men on their crew. (No offense men, but that really isn’t surprising!)

She complimented the house and we ended up chatting. Found out she was struggling a bit. She lives in an apartment and is raising her granddaughter. Unfortunately, that usually means her child is either a drug addict or has a serious mental illness. I didn’t pry.

Turns out she could use some of the excess small tables I had that I was going to post and attempt to sell. I told her I would be happy to give her them which saves me the hassle of selling. She was very grateful but didn’t drive. Her boss picks her up every morning and takes her home and she didn’t want to put him out any further.

I went out to talk to “the boss.” I told him I was going to “bat my eyes” at him and he asked what it was I wanted. He had no problem taking the items for her. She was so thrilled. I mentioned that one of them had belonged to my dad. She saw a picture of him on the wall and said he looked kind. She also said she would say some prayers in his honor. It was a lovely and seemingly sincere moment.

She was hesitant to take it at first because of it belonging to him. I told her that keeping it would not bring him back, but it would make me happy to know that someone so kind and appreciative was using it.

It was a lovely day in spite of all the stress that house remodeling brings. For those of you that haven’t been here in a while, you should stop in and see the new bathroom and bedroom. Tim and I have made a great team and things are looking spiffy!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those experiencing the loss of someone they care about. Holidays always seem to multiply the grief. 

And please share my post if you are able. Always trying to boost interest in these topics and hopefully expose my business. Love to all of you!


1 Comment

The Christmas Queen

This time of year, I’m known as the Christmas Queen. I hate the thought of Christmas presents, but I love the media stuff. Thanks to my OCD, I am also known more as the Christmas Nazi. That is because I HAVE to do the following every year:

Read every Christmas book I have
Listen to every Christmas record I have
Watch every Christmas movie I own
Listen to every Christmas CD I have
Play every piece of Christmas piano music I have

My friend Darren knows this about me so last year he sent me an external drive with his Christmas collection. This year I got it open and let me tell you, he makes me look like a Christmas Scrooge. He sent audio books, dozens of movies, and about 4,000 Christmas songs!

You can see why I had to start at the beginning of November. There are several things that I enjoy, but wouldn’t particularly want to visit again every year. And I’m learning lots of things, probably only interesting to me.

1- When it comes to audio books, I prefer actual readings vs. additional voices and sounds to dress it up. Patrick Stewart’s reading of A Christmas Carol is awesome, which is of course followed up by watching the movie with him as Scrooge. The exception is The Grinch. Having those fun songs throughout the reading is a definite bonus.

2- When it comes to movies, I was surprised by a few. Curious George and The Smurfs actually have repetitive worthy specials that I thought for sure were going to be on the one-time only list. Tim was particularly unhappy when he came home last week to my announcement that we needed to talk. I told him I still loved him dearly, but my heart has expanded and I am also in love with another man as well. ANDY WILLIAMS! My, what a heart-throb. He is so dang handsome and has the most beautiful eyes. (Well, so does Tim for that matter!) Tim pointed out that he is old as dirt and I pointed out he is still pretty damn handsome with his salt and pepper hair.

3- As for music, I found I am not quite as eclectic as I thought. Darren has brought my attention to all types of genres that I didn’t even know were out there. I found the B.B. King file and figured I would love him but discovered I didn’t care for his style at all. The big surprise was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, who I had never even heard of and would have thought would have been a big no. Turns out I loved them. Lou Rawls voice is as hot as they come. And my favorite find so far, is Julie London, who I also didn’t recognize. She does a song called, “I’d Like You for Christmas” that is so sexy and sweet, I almost woke Tim up at 2 a.m. to dance with me. He said he appreciated my wisdom on not following through.

While you might think this a monumental waste of my time, I have found a way to make this useful. If Darren can put movies on a disk, then I can too. I can add to the drive and dispense of my DVDs which is consistent with my desire to keep getting rid of “stuff” in any way possible. Plus, any books on audio, I can get rid of those as well. See? It’s such a good use of my time 🙂

This was an indulgent blog about my own quirks, but a non-depressing theme is ok once in a while, isn’t it?


2 Comments

Tired Out

I had surgery on my feet last week so I’ve been on crutches. Mostly, there isn’t much pain. The thing that has surprised me is how much I am sleeping. I can sleep for hours. As I slowly increase my activity, I find after an hour or two I need another nap. Someone pointed out that once I stopped, the last few months may have just caught up with me. I’ve been crashing hard.

My first time driving again, I went to a building complex for folks 62 and over. I have two jobs there I will be starting where I am helping the resident clean the built-up clutter in their homes. Both apartments are going to be quite a challenge. The conversations with the two women in their mid to late 70’s were amazingly similar.

“I’m tired.” Both ladies repeated that again and again. Tired with a capital T. Tired of taking care of themselves. Tired of taking care of other people, which is definitely what most women do for most of their lives. Tired of all of it.

One woman made it clear that she was not referring to “giving up” because there’s a big difference. It brought back floods of feelings and memories of Dad. I spent the last year or so trying to explain to others that exact sentiment. Dad was tired. He was done. But I saw that as completely courageous. There was no giving up, it was an acceptance. Done here. Ready for the next.

I don’t think the women I saw today were necessarily referencing the end of their lives. They are just ready for a change. Needing to simplify. Needing to stop and slow down. Wanting to be taken care of a bit which is the biggest change of all. “I’m tired.”

Later I spoke with one of the managers who asked if I had an initial assessment. I said it was too early to know for sure, but my gut feeling is that neither of them had a mental health issue of concern. They are both just tired. Tired with a capital T.

I’m aware that this week held one of those realizations that once again, God, the universe has brought my life experiences to dovetail beautifully with my work. I was able to understand and relate to them in a much deeper way more quickly than I would have a few months ago. Thanks Dad. It felt really soul-satisfying to hug one of them at the end and hear her say, “You are the only one that is listening. I could kiss you right now.”

My approach to these organizing jobs will have a slightly different slant. I will be emphasizing that peace is coming their way. They can sit in their chairs and direct me and I will do my best to give them rest. The soul kind of rest they desperately need.

My sleep has been more physical, just recovering from surgery and lots of stress. That kind of fatigue is important to respond to, but these women are tired in a much deeper, wide-reaching way. Send prayers for us as we begin our work together that the outcome will be much more significant than a clean apartment. This feels more like a ministry. I’m so glad for the opportunity!


4 Comments

He WAS there!

It’s funny how sometimes the “facts” of your life can change as your perspective and experience grows. Maybe a little growing up too. I remember when I was initially immersed in therapy in my 20’s and I was doing the whole evaluating my family of origin thing. Mom and I were in a lot of conflict at the time. I had this “aha” moment when I realized that I disagreed with her a lot, but it was because she was “there.” Dad just wasn’t. At least that is how it felt at the time.

I’ve mentioned before that Dad was a good, stoic German. He was not very demonstrative with his emotions or affection. It made him uncomfortable. That’s why there are lots of pictures of me sitting on his lap or my sister and I kissing him when we were older because we just kind of forced it on him (lovingly). You see his smile though, he liked it!

Progressive-Lisa, Dad, Darcy

But I was laying in bed the other night and one memory after another popped into my mind. I am rewriting my story. Dad WAS there.

The first time that comes to mind, I’m not really sure how old I was. Maybe five or six? Dad played softball at the fire hall. I think he was the pitcher. I was sitting on a blanket on the sidelines. Don’t know what family I was with but it wasn’t my family. All of a sudden I got hit hard in the head with a baseball. I was dazed. My vision was blurry but I looked and saw Dad running to me. He was there. I remember being home that night with ice on my face and Mom saying, “Poor baby.” But Dad came running, literally, when I needed him.

Next, fast forward to fourth grade. My grandma died. She and I shared a bedroom so I was very close to her. We had this ugly, brown, upholstered rocking chair, but we had it for years and years. I remember being curled up in Daddy’s lap in that chair and just crying. He didn’t say anything, just held me. He was there.

Right after I graduated high school I went on a mission trip to Europe for six weeks. I was in the driveway saying goodbye to mom and dad and we were hugging. I remember looking up and being shocked to see Dad crying. I mean tears, streaming down his face. He didn’t say a word but he didn’t have to.

In 1990, we had a huge tragedy in our family. My niece was killed in a car accident at only 10 years old. Dad was directing traffic as a firefighter and had no idea who was in the car. That tore him up. I remember him talking about it. And I remember our family going to the private viewing at the funeral home before everyone else arrived from the public. I am pretty sure it was him that stood next to me with his arm around me as we all sobbed.

In 2010, Tim was diagnosed with cancer. Our cat was too. Oreo was put on steroids and had another month where he functioned normally. Then the day came when he couldn’t walk and we knew what had to happen. Of course, the irony of knowing what lay ahead for Tim didn’t escape any of us. We were all in the bathroom as that was where we found Oreo unable to walk. It was Tim, David, Dad and me. All four of us cried. Dad was right there with us. No words were necessary.

I will never forget October 14, 2010 as long as I live. After his five month battle with cancer, Tim died at the Hospice facility. The room was full of loved ones, but it was Dad that stood next to me as the nurse examined him and looked up at us to tell us he was gone. Crazy thing about a terminal illness. You know the end is coming. You wait for it. You plan for it. But when it happens, you are shocked anyway. My knees literally buckled underneath me. Dad caught me. He literally held me up because my body wasn’t capable of it.

My story is rewritten. I had two amazing parents. As we all kept vigil as Dad was living out his last two weeks, my boyfriend Tim carved out some time alone with Dad. He told him that I wouldn’t be alone anymore. He promised to take care of me. He promised to take care of David. Even though he wouldn’t articulate it to me, I know that helped Dad to let go more peacefully.

As I had foot surgery this week and have had to sit still (which is almost impossible for me), Tim has kept his word. He has held me up, literally and figuratively. I remember him telling me that he knew he would never replace Dad, but he would do his best to be there for me.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Tim. And thank you God for all of them.

Graduation June 22, 1985 (3).jpg


2 Comments

Car Shopping with a Counselor

I’ve heard it more than once or twice that people tend to spill their guts around counselors. Kinda like hairdressers, bartenders, massage therapists. It’s just what happens. I think with me, it’s more because I’m so damn intense emotionally, that it draws it out of other people too. Now, I didn’t say I’m emotional, but intense with emotions. Who knows, maybe there is only a difference in my imagination.

Almost everyone I know hates car shopping. You would think it would be fun and exciting, but it is usually stressful. Spending that amount of money, combined with making a decision that will affect the next eight to ten years of your life, it’s no wonder it feels like too big of a decision. Now add to it that most of us expect to be ripped off. We know they aren’t really going to give us their bottom life offer, even though they say they are.

My dad almost always had trucks, pretty much his whole life. They were his babies. He took meticulous care of them. We had talked about my possibly trading in his truck for a new car and I was worried I would break his heart. He was ok with it, thankfully. But now consider this intensely emotionally person taking her very recently deceased father’s pride and joy to be traded in. Even my boyfriend was like, “Yea, I have to say, this was the most stressful and emotional car shopping experience I’ve ever had.” At our age, that’s saying something.

Let’s just say that after the first three-hour visit with a sales girl, she looked at me and said, “Remember, it’s just a car.” Then I informed her that wasn’t the case for my dad. It was his baby. I started crying with frustration because we couldn’t come to an agreement for a price. Next thing I knew, she was crying too. Oh man!

Two days later, I am on speaker phone with the sales guy I have worked with for decades. He starts to have a mini meltdown with me due to the inability to come to a purchase agreement with me. I talk him down from the cliff and then he ends up disclosing some very stressful personal stuff. Love that guy, but only shopping with me would there be this much emotion spilling over everywhere.

After way too many hours and days, I did finally get a vehicle. I ended up back at the place where I had the woman crying. She was off the day I actually purchased but I got to see her a couple of days later. The employees there have each other’s backs so they made sure she got her part of the commission. She certainly earned that one.

 

IMG_20180912_082546330_HDRIt’s cute, isn’t it? Safe, good mileage, got a decent deal. Honda HR-V Sport. My insurance agent asked if I was having a mid-life crisis. I told her I was just sick of the color black and feeling like I live in the world of death and dying. Besides, Dad’s truck was red. Doesn’t that count for something?

Anyhow, perhaps you can relate to the car buying stress. I wouldn’t recommend taking me with you, though. Just saying.


1 Comment

Riding in a Car with Women

Along with the aches and pains of a job search, I have also been able to meet some great people. I had to attend a meeting today and car pooled with three other women. There was the drive there, the meeting, and the drive home. Let me just say, I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. The range of topics was staggering, from professional to personal and everything in between.

Talked about my dad and got some phone numbers to follow up on some things for possible better care. (That’s the advantage of hanging out with other aging care managers. They know the same peeps as I do but many, many more.)

Talked about the agency we are affiliated with and the frustrations with our medical system and the lack of interest for our aging population. It was great to hear other people be passionate about wanting to change things for the better. I’m proud of our agency for focusing on the aging.

We talked about the upcoming conference which is another year away. That’s good because pulling off a 3-day conference is a monumental task.

Talked about the naked bike ride in Buffalo. I was able to say I knew people who actually participated in it. (By the way, if my friends are reading this, I did not initiate the term “naked bike ride.” THEY called it that so don’t yell at me!)

Talked about one women’s ice pack on her bum. She got it from exercising. The back seat agreed that is one more great reason to avoid exercising whenever possible. It’s just too dangerous.  Bad for your health.

We talked about a surgeon that can reconstruct a woman’s virginity in the physical sense. Modern medicine! This comes in handy if you ever need to go to a country where a woman is required to be a virgin in order to be worthy of marriage.

We talked about breast-feeding and the miracle of birth in general. I pointed out that the whole concept of growing a human inside you is indeed a miracle, as well as quite creepy if you think about it too much.

Vibrators. That was a good one. Stories about a mom who discovered her teenage daughter had stolen hers to use it.

Stories about rectums that fall out. One of us was a nurse so she is the information guru on this one. I didn’t even know that was possible. You think that is weird? She had to put gloves on and put it back inside. Yikes.

Then there were the dating stories. I’m the only one not married at this point. I got out my list of names and numbers that have the jotted down notes to remind me of the lovely memories. We giggled over “chicken guy”, “toothless guy”, the guy that thought I was too fat, the guy that was younger than my children, etc., etc.. I decided I needed to give my boyfriend an extra hug next time I see him for saving me from all that nonsense.

I’m forgetting a bunch more topics, but let me just say I’m grateful for these new women in my life and I look forward to spending more time with them. You never know what the work day is going to bring you, that’s for sure. I did come home with a tummy ache from laughing so hard.  🙂