Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dealing with Grief

Well, mom died on August 6, 2009. Her funeral was on the 13th. The following Monday, I returned to work. I have been fine at work. It is business as usual as Red River College is gearing up for classes starting next week. However, I feel like I am carrying a big secret around. I think about it when I am passing people in the hallways of the College. I think, "You have no idea that I am grieving right now." I am actually in the pit of despair. So, as long as there are people around me I appear to be handling the situation. As soon as I am alone in the car or at home by myself I let my mind wander to memories, her time at the hospital, the impact of her death on me and the family, and so forth. This is not how I imagined it would be. There is a gaping vacuum in my world where I think she should be.

I know, I know...she is not in pain anymore. I really do believe she is in a better place. I believe she is with family gone before her. I feel that Heavenly Father loves her and still has a plan for her in the next stage of her eternal life. This really does bring me peace and comfort.

In addition, I have felt an outpouring of love from others who are mourning with me. I think I have had hundreds of hugs in the past 2 weeks. It amazes me how kind and thoughtful people have been.

You know, my mom lost a couple of babies before I was born. When I was a teenager, I would ask her about how she felt when they died. She told me there is pain and it hurts and it never really goes just learn to go on with your life. I think about that. I guess I am learning to go on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

I am now going to dedicate this page to keeping loved ones informed starting with my mom's situation.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer in the liver on Canada Day (July 1, 2009). She is supposed to start Chemo-therapy but we haven't heard back from the doctor yet.

It has been an emotional roller-coaster: even more than usual! I think the biggest thing to deal with is the change in the amount of assistance she needs to carry out her daily routine. (My brother's kids are over until August 3rd and we are scrambling to keep up with them.) So far, not all her needs are being met. It is a work in progress.

She needs a wheelchair now and she needs assistance transporting herself to do nature's business. We have already made the mistake of thinking that sinse she could walk a few steps, she should be able to take those few steps back to the couch. Poor mom! Who knows how long she was trapped in there! (Don't tell her I told you this story.)

She is also not keeping food down. We are really scratching our heads trying to think of meals she can eat. The doctor says she can't have milk products and needs to reduce carbs. (So pasta dishes are out, bread is out, etc.) She is diabetic-so sugar is out. She is allergic to chicken and eggs; although, she can eat them once in a while. She can't seem to stomach any vegetables-including tomato sauce and few fruits. She is tired of having soup all the time. She doesn't want to be on a liquid where does that leave us? I can think of baked ham, salmon, steak, and gelato. Any ideas?

Even with the best foods, she may vommit because of the scent. So, now we are opening the windows during the food prep, cooking, and eating times.

In addition, it looks like I can use some cooking lessons...that will teach me to cook food the kids will like.

Let me know if you have level one or level two cooking ideas.

Even the foods I make don't seem to taste the same as when she makes them.
Hello friends!

The conference turned out well. It was a fine quality event. Everyone involved pitched in and people seemed to have fun. We think we had at least 62 people eating that number doesn't include people who came for part of the day. It was a memorable day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I feel more awake now.

I am getting ready for a LDS Single Adult Conference Committee meeting. I have the agenda ready and am looking forward to passing on the information needed to keep the ball rolling. Sister D. Robbins and I have worked out a schedule for the conference which should be uplifting to those in attendance.

By the sounds of things, our biggest obstacle will be getting people involved with enthusiasm.

It is going to be a 9-8 sort of day. So some of the older folks are concerned that it is too long. Meanwhile, some of the younger folks (especially those who would need to travel to attend) think it is too short.

I am so excited about the entertainment planned so far! Neil's Diamonds will be playing a variety of popular tunes and Sister E. Arauz and friend will be performing Spanish acoustic guitar songs! Oh, and I can't forget to mention that Sister M. Purdy has written some comedy to be read during our lunch hour! (Sister Purdy is one of the pioneers of the WPG, MB, Stake. She is in her 90's!...and she is still quite a fire cracker!)

Well, talk to ya later!

Signing off...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I am soooOOOoooo tired!

Last night, I took my neice and nephew to the church for Scouts and a Primary Achievement Day. Both kids seemed to have a riot.

Wesley and the other boys recieved a brand new scary-looking pocket knife. He certified for a Scout Knife License so I guess I don't have to freak out about all the potential hazards surrounding an almost 12 year old boy working with a knife. He loved it!

Kristen and the girls in her group did manicures on each other. They used all kinds of colors and put those sparkly decorations on their nails. All of them were happy with the activity. They wrapped it up with popsicles for refreshments. ( I managed to score a lime popsicle for was an extra. Lucky me!)

(I remember having this coversation with Romy about the spelling of popsicle...or is it it fudgescicle or fudgesicle?)

When it was time to round up the kids and take them home, an incident occurred which required a spontaneous teaching moment. I tried to drive the point home (no pun intended but it happens to be convenient!) while they were stuck in the van for the five minute ride home.

I think I did the right thing but there is such a fine line of what to do when problems arise with kids. You never know what messages you are unintentionally sending them. I just hope that the message they received will help them to figure out how to make right choices in the face of temptations. I wonder how full-time parents do it.

Sleep seemed half-done when I, finally, talked myself awake this morning. That seemed to set the tone for my day. With learning a new job, it is important to be on my "A" game, however, I think I resorted to a "B" game today. I just felt like the day dragged on and on. I noticed that I wasn't always paying attention to what people were saying; especially if it was a really long story about something not related to work. Today was a day filled with slow moving glitches and an easily distracted attention span.


PS: We should change the name of Sturgeon Creek to Sturgeon River. (...because the water level has risen so much that I think it is too wide, deep, and fast to be a creek.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thoughts on Living a Happy Life

OK, so... I have been grouchy for a couple of days. The reasons don't really matter. My grouchiness began to lift yesterday but the underlying causes of my cloudy disposition were still in existence. Since then, I have watched a bunch of TV shows about happiness and success. I have had some time to think about the informative presentations which has lead to a change in my perspective.

Here are my notes on the subject:

The First topic follows a Documentary hosted by Sonja Lyubomirsky (psychologist) and Jon Dore (Comedian) produced by Happiness Film Inc. in association with CTV in 2006. It exposed the characteristics found in people who scored highly on a happiness questionnaire. Their hypothesis suggested that a person needs to score high in several categories on the questionnaire if they are happy people. (Optimism, Goals, Friends/Social Networks, Spirituality, Gratitude, and I think the other one was Volunteering/Service/Meaningful work) The maximum score was 28 which represented a totally happy person. The questionnaires were posted on the Internet and I think there was about 4000 respondents. There were about double the amount of women answering the questionnaire as men. The national average score was 18 or 19.

The cameras accompanied Sonja and Jon as they travelled across the country to talk to many people who scored way above the average. They shared interviews centered on finding out why they were so happy.

All of the high scoring happy people did, in fact, meet their checklist of the hypothesised characteristics of a happy person. In addition, there were charming anecdotes about starting out without much in terms of material possessions and feeling filled with gratitude for everything they have; like a job, vacuum, friends and so forth. Many of the interviewees felt joy as they served others. Others had found religion to inspire their grateful feelings. One lady said that if you have something to focus on, one day that will become the one thing that gets you through. It was suggested that a person needs time with and without people. Also, it was mentioned that one needs to STOP negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Another person emphasised removing mental barriers (the I-can'ts) to achieving our goals. Each interview was inspiring and as I pooled all that information together it is easy to see the laces tying all the characteristics together in the makings of a happy person.

At the conclusion of the documentary, Sonja shows a graph siting the positive increase in the average income earned by Canadians since 1956. She contrasted the incline with the flat line level of happiness on the same graph. Thus, she demonstrated that Income and Happiness are not well correlated.

Take Home Notes:

1) Very happy people score high in Optimism (PMA), Goals, Social Network, Spirituality, Gratitude and Volunteering. So, if I can fill the gaps in these categories maybe I can find out if I will feel like an extremely happy person. ( Although, I know that correlation does not equal causation. Still, it wouldn't hurt to try it out.)

2) Focusing on more material things doesn't, necessarily, effect my happiness level. Even though, I have always believed that, I have had difficulty not focusing on the have-nots in my life. This point takes me back to Optimism.

Another TV Show I watched was on PBS in Detroit. It was Dr. Daniel G. Amen. ("Change Your Brain, Change Your Life", Amen, 2008) He talked about the healthy brain vers. a brain in trouble. The main points I want to take home are the importance of exercise and the importance of taking the time to meditate. Both these activities increase blood flow to the brain and can significantly improve (...along with the other things he talked about...) the functioning of a brain. can I stay grumpy now? Personal circumstances only matters up to 10% out of my total circle (discussed on "In The Pursuit Of Happiness", Lyubomirsky, et al., 2006)! There are a lot more factors in my control than I previously suspected.

So, that is what I have been doing wrong! I haven't been doing anything about my grumpiness. Now, I see specific things I can do to potentially increase my personal happiness level. Knowing that kind of takes the edge off of things.

(Thanks be to God for granting me the time and peace to be able to watch, listen, and learn. He knows/knew what I need/needed to change/changed my attitude around. Isn't it interesting how he uses his mysterious ways to answer our prayers!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Afternoon at the Museum

My nephew and I wandered around The Manitoba Museum today. I really enjoyed the inter-active learning exibits featured there. The dinasour exhibit was interesting but I think my favorite part was the urban centre with the railway, shops, and silent movie theatre. (Looking back, I think that was my favorite part of the museum 30 years ago! Remember when they used to sell candy in the old candy shop?)

I was fascinated to re-read all the signs on the exhibits from a family history perspective. I imagined what it would've been like for my Great-Grandparents to raise families in sod or log houses surrounded by the prairie grasslands. Their everyday life would have been hardship for me. Imagine having to use that heavy iron or that wood stove or that handcart!

At the same time, I was impressed with how much my nephew had learned about the history of our planet, country, and province. He was just as happy as I was to read every word on the info plackets. He loved almost every artifact; eagerly learning more.

Conversely, Kristen was scared in the museum so my mom took her out. (It turns out someone had been telling her horrifying and untrue stories about people dying off the Nonsuch plank!) In addition, my mom wouldn't buy her a particular toy from the gift shop. So she wasn't in a good mood even before we entered the museum. So, while I had a blast, my mother endured at least an hour of whining, bargaining, and negotiating. (Poor Mother! Poor Kristen!)

Here's are the lessons to be learned: Never go into the gift shop with a child before touring the museum. Always have a plan B consisting of what to do if an emotional meltdown happens during an outing. Plan to spend about two hours at the museum because there is much to see and do!