Thinking about moving mom (or an elderly relative or friend) to assisted living? As a special offer, I am making one of my popular blog series available free as a PDF to my newsletter subscribers. Current subscribers will receive their free copy in the February newsletter. New subscribers will receive their copy when they sign-up.
This short guide offers insights on factors to consider when you face moving an aging relative. Many of us will have to make this call for our parents. Our culture does not make this an easy conversation. This guide helps you identify the signs that your relative or friend can no longer live independently. It offers suggestions for the tough conversation ahead and a checklist to help you manage your new responsibility.
Written in anecdotal form with warmth and humor, Moving Mom offers the words of an encouraging friend, letting you know about the blessings that abound at the end of this difficult road.Read More»
Seeking my best self, “I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” Remember that ditty? I had a flashback to the Sixties when writer and educator David Dark challenged those who, in their quest to be widely read and greatly admired, evade the hard work of discovery. He exhorted us to dig more deeply into our attention collection. “Have you experienced your experience yet?” he asked.
We sat on uncomfortable chairs in the majestic chapel on the campus of Calvin College, light glinting off warm wood wall paneling, pens chasing furiously across notebook pages dense with run on sentences, the length of which were completely inadequate to capture the inner workings of the Dark mind.
Finding your best self is slow work
Dark suggested we take time to narrate our own lives, to listen for our voice in the stories others tell. In an I Heard the Owl Call My Name, moment, I heard my own voice reflected in “What’s It All About, Alfie” existential despair.
To prepare for the Festival of Faith and Writing, I was watching a small film, Something, Anything. Stretched out in 90 degree weather, in Arizona, on an overstuffed leather couch that squeaks, I emerged from a heated stupor when the main character Peggy popped the exact same question I had asked at her age, one I’d never heard anyone else voice before. What is the point of pouring your life out in menial labor to raise the next generation, only to have them turn around and do the very same, et cetera, and so on, and so forth? (My words not Peggy’s, but same concern.)Read More»
Reading books written in or about past eras brings perspective to present day conundrums. Is America more polarized than ever? Not according to Lidie Newton’s experience in the Kansas Territory of 1850. At that time, the issue that divided the country was slavery. Smiley’s engaging narrative explores the challenges of trying to live peacefully among people who are passionate on two sides of an issue, where morality, social and economic drivers, family relationships, and self-interest are hopelessly tangled.
Smiley does a masterful job of presenting her young heroine’s dilemma against a backdrop of history. How do we communicate in a hostile environment? What is at stake? When is it time to take action? Lydie’s reluctance to commit one way or the other may not be admirable, but her confusion is genuine. Readers who enjoy the adventure of survival against the odds and the challenge of thinking through moral dilemmas will like the book.
Jane Smiley has just written a sweeping new saga that spans 1919 to 2019. Read about it on LitHub
Creative Adventure–Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Sometimes we get bogged down by expectations–our own and others– and we forget our first love. Does the world need another writing book? Perhaps not, but I needed this book to remind me creative expression is the love that drove me to write. Elizabeth Gilbert gives us bite-sized readings in six sections that map to attributes of creativity.
I used this book in my morning devotional reading. The readings inspired me, reassured me, and made me laugh. At once reverent and irreverent, Gilbert tackles the myth of suffering for one’s art with cheerful aplomb. If you have lost your joy, you will find it again among these pages. Gilbert tells stories that a poke us in the ribs and invite us to lighten up. her dialogue between the Martyr and the Trickster is a hoot! Big Magic is big fun–conversational in tone, engaging in manner, and energizing in purpose.
Places I call home stretch from the California coast to the Sonoran desert. The textures of my worlds are soft redwood bark, gnarled oakwood, and crunchy pine needle carpets, sand and sea, spiny cactus that house wrens, sport vivid blooms in season, and give mute testimony to nature’s resilience.
The north central part of Arkansas features woodsy ridges, stone bluffs, and quiet cow pastures dotted with ponds. Except for the early spring dogwoods that show off like debutantes assured of the spotlight, there’s a preternatural stillness in the countryside. In town, there’s a sameness that mystifies me. Little changes year to year.
In my world, speech rapid fires information at people. I can’t be in the Ozarks for five minutes before my speech wants to shift into low gear and enjoy the ride. Words stretch out in the air, elongating around the vowels. Sentences hang out a bit or repeat themselves for effect, inviting listeners to “come on in and set a spell.” If you adjust to the languor, it can be delightful change of pace.Read More»
Proverbs, popular sayings that express commonplace truth or useful thought, pass down through the generations. What grandma said to you in your growing up years she likely heard from her grandma. Catchy sayings hitchhike on the transport of family values that travel from one generation to the next.
Family proverbs are effortless ways to address an observed behavior. When I prodded my children with the adage, “no rest for the wicked” I meant it is time to get up and get moving. When my mother said that to me, I did not take it as a pronouncement on my character, but as a humorous poke in the ribs. It was code for “start your chores” or “stick with your task.” I also understood that it was a comment on the human condition. We all have work to do. Lot’s of it. So roll up your sleeves and get to it.
While proverbs are universal in intent, as our culture changes the intended consequences change, especially when they are pulled out of cultural and historical context.This particular saying was part of a lexicon I used to introduce my children to the work ethic I was raised with, and they learned it well. My scrappy forebears had the proverbial American work ethic that helped each generation rise. But in today’s society, rest has become synonymous with sloth, an unintended consequence.
The origin of this saying is Isaiah 48:22 ” ‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’ “In context, it is a commentary on our fallen nature and our need for redemption, which brings peace “like a river.” That is quite the opposite of believing there is blessing in ceaseless work.
What values did your parents pass down to you in the form of a saying? Maybe its time to reexamine the aphorisms our parents appropriated from sources such as the Good Book and Poor Richard’s Almanac to see if they fit the current situation.
In the name of thrift, we save stuff
Our parents practiced thrift. They saved everything and passed it down with the tacit agreement that we would do the same. Those of us raised by the greatest generation have some literal baggage to deal with.
To avoid the physical stress, mental exercise, and emotional pain of dealing with stuff, we stash it high on our shelves. We shove it deep in our drawers. Our closets are full of it.
Our children tell us exactly what will happen if we dare try to foist any of our stuff onto them.
Go to Goodwill. Go directly to Goodwill. Do not pass Goering crystal onto us. Do not collect 200 boxed Hummel figurines and expect us to store them for posterity.
That is what our kids are saying.
I get it. I’m a believer. I celebrate the simpler life, where I can open a cabinet door and spot what I’m looking for at glance without getting a step stool (because now the top shelves I can’t reach are empty–well, not all of them, but I’m getting there), or moving things around in hopes that what I am looking for is hiding behind something else. But…Read More»