“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” –1 Cor. 10:26
Nuthin’ like waking up on a Monday morning to sleet falling on your head, tired leaves falling everywhere…and lightning. No worries, it will probably be 100 degrees later this week, followed by murder hornets riding into town on an Icenado. Such is the Ozarks in October. We are used to it.
While jogging Saturday, I got to thinking about the importance of where you point your gaze in life. I think on such to keep my mind off of how annoying/painful it can be to run. (Side note: running in the cold with a jogging suit ala 1990 makes for static electricity and, worse, rubbed spots.) This week I was thinking about gazing philosophy and how it relates to life and, as I am wont to do, my mind strayed every which way. Here are a couple of things that came to my pea brain as I ran:
- Don’t look too far ahead. When I jog, I look about 6-8 feet ahead unless I need to check for traffic. It helps me a lot to NOT look too far ahead when I run… or in life. This may be bad financial advice, but it is good in other areas. 10+ years ago when I ran a marathon I ran it, in many ways, one little flaggy-doo at a time. The marathon course has little flags littering the course so we didn’t turn wrong and end up getting disqualified. They were probably 50-100 yards apart. I just ran to one, then ran to the next one, then the next… I wasn’t as concerned with the 26.2 miles as I was just getting to the next marker. You know…How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. In dementia caregiving, live one day at a time too. Don’t look to far ahead at when it gets worse, nor when it is over. Love them, in exactly the state they are in, remembering more what is left than what is gone, and do it again tomorrow.
- Treasure can be everywhere. Mom asked me one time why I always look down when I went for walks. She may have thought I was depressed or perhaps disinterested. My response was two things: I have big feet and don’t like to trip AND there is treasure everywhere. The first thought is self-explanatory…my size 13/14 super wide are like a duck on steroids. The second, though, deserves some consideration. I have found, while walking, at least $200, one shiny coin at a time. (Note: I have also found paper currency many times). Had I been looking elsewhere I would have missed it. Mom replied something about missing the beauty of nature and the like in the way I gaze. We were probably both right. Can I point you again to Teepa Snow’s video about the stages of dementia portrayed as gems? Here is the link: LINK . There are gems all around us…we just have to find them. Don’t give up looking, friend.
- Stress and peripheral vision. As I have mentioned before here, I spent much of the summer on 1990 in Israel doing archaeology. It was a very stressful time there…Desert Shield/Storm/skirmishes added to the angst. I was asked “Was it scary to be there (as an American) then?”. My response has always been: “You can tell where the tension is happening. Just avoid that area, look at people only in peripheral vision, and keep on moving. If there are people throwing rocks on Main Street, choose a different path instead.” —On Stress: Caring for someone with dementia is stressful enough. Please tune off of the news more and more each day. Stay on cat groups on social media. You will not win anyone over to your politics on social media…and the added stress of spending too much time “informing yourself” may just make you sick. —and On Peripheral vision: My mom’s near perfect vision is currently a small tunnel….as if seeing through a pipe. She can physically see her normal range of vision, but she can only process what is right in front of her…and that not well. When I was still able to visit ( 🙁 ) I would need to make eye contact to make “contact” with mom in any real sense. Remember that. The later the stage, the harder processing becomes for them…and you need to connect before talking. It is easy to startle them and start them off in a sad or bad mood.
- Keeping the gaze down symbolizes working hard. “She really put her nose to the grindstone” may sound like a cliché or a reach in this topic, but there is something to it. Concentrate. Focus. There is no time for shortcuts. The tendency with mom was to think that correcting her would be easier than going with the flow. That is the opposite of truth. When mom would ask how her long deceased parents were, explaining that they were gone would have made her relive it, made her sad, and she wouldn’t have remembered it again the next day. Instead, a blissful untruth is OK. You are not trying to deceive for gain somehow in shepherding her heart with something not completely factual. We got to where we told mom “They have never been better”. Sometimes redirecting, breaking eye contact and reconnecting when you have a distraction is an option too.
- There IS a time to look up. Alas, we don’t give up. There are foes (the disease itself, family squabbles, stress) all around us, but we don’t waver. We don’t drop our gaze…in shame. Instead, we look up at the source of our ability to withstand life’s challenges….the One who fights for us. A verse comes to mind: Psalm 3:3. This verse reads: “
Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
The ever-amazing Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his wonderful set of books on the Psalms, explained this verse as so: “There is a lifting up of the head by elevating to office, as with Pharaoh’s butler; this we trace to the divine appointment. There is a lifting up in honor after shame, in health after sickness, in gladness after sorrow, in restoration after a fall, in victory after a temporary defeat; in all these respects the Lord is the lifter up of our head.”
Keep your heads up when the time calls for it, friends. Thank you for helping and for serving, and for fighting to someday #EndALZ .
Update: Nothing much to report on mom or the rest this week. News is quiet coming from her facility and they have missed the last 2 video calls (short-staffed??). I am HOPING this Wednesday it will work. 🙁
Diet update: Lost another couple this week for a total of 96. I would need to lose 4 pounds in 5 days to get to 100 by November 1st. I will get pretty darn close. 🙂
This was an oldie but a goodie. 🙂