Moments of deep despair and desperation can be turning points in our lives.
I was reminded of this recently while talking with a dear friend. As the one year anniversary of her husband’s stroke neared, she pulled out the journal she’d kept during the weeks of her husband’s hospitalization. She found herself reflecting on all the good that had come from that horrible experience; the relationships she formed with some of the medical staff who served as a support to her as they nursed her husband back to health, the cards and visits from friends and the unexpected cards from people she barely knew, her church family who saw to it that folks across the country added her family to their prayer list, the meals provided after they returned home from the hospital. This stroke anniversary was also a reminder that a full year had passed without her realizing it, with all the running here and there to teaching engagements and doctor’s appointments while keeping the dogs fed and the house in one piece along with the multitude of other duties caregivers take on. In many ways it had been a lonely year of loss and despair. However, upon reflection, she realized all the good that had come from that terrible time.
As I reflect on the year that has passed since her husband’s stroke, I find that she is dearer to me than ever. We were very close before his stroke. Were even known to double date now and then, which is huge, for Ronnie and I have been somewhat socially isolated since his stroke. Now, my friend and I are both married to stroke survivors. Mutual admiration and understanding encircle us, bonding us in a way perhaps otherwise impossible without stroke touching both our lives. When we find ourselves in territories of loneliness, time together is good medicine. She reminds me I am loved and cared for by many. I hope I do the same for her.
So the next time you face desperation and despair, remember; a turning point may be headed your way that reminds you who and what you treasure most.
Processing my caregiving journey through this blog has served as a reflective and curative process. But this blog is not my only source of therapeutic writing. I’ve written short stories, poetry, an entire novel, and children’s picture books. However, most of these works remain undocumented. That’s about to change.
Check out my Indiegogo project for my soon to be published children’s picture book, The Readyville Mill. Indiegogo is a crowd funding site where artist can create and post projects in hopes that family, friends and followers will help fund their work.
I’ve tinkered with The Readyville Mill off and on for a few years now, with much help from writing friends along the way. As I reflect on those precious times, those sessions around the table critiquing each other’s work, I wonder if they realize how our time together not only supported me as a writer but sent me home to Ronnie refreshed and recharged. That’s what good friends and good hobbies do.
Who do you spend time with or what do you do to refresh and recharge?
John C. Maxwell has released a new book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential. His 8th law is titled: The Law of Pain: Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth.
If you are a caregiver, something bad has happen to someone close to you. How you manage the struggles of day to day caregiving can lead to great growth for yourself and those looking to you as a role-model. And we truly are role-models, for most all who know us will be caregivers at some point in their lives.
While I try to be a good role-model, I don’t give enough thought to this role. And I’ve made plenty of mistakes to learn from along the way. But I am thankful for the caregiver role-models in my life, and all I have learned from their example.
How do you manage the difficult times? Have you experienced personal growth as a result? Are you a positive role model for the future caregivers within your circle?
I attended the Barry Manilow concert in Nashville last Saturday night. He sang a once favorite from my teenage years that I had totally forgotten. The song was I Made it Through the Rain. While we all get rained on from time to time, the lyrics especially reminded me of all my caregiver friends out there. Here’s the chorus:
I made it through the rain
I kept my world protected
I made it through the rain
I kept my point of view
I made it through the rain
And found myself respected
By the others who
Got rained on too
And made it through
For your listening pleasure, here’s the one and only Barry Manilow.
I could list so many precious people who have experienced struggles in their life and persevered with grace and dignity. Christopher Reeve and his dear wife Dana come to mind. Click here to read my February 20, 2012 post about The Reeves. Chris is an awesome example of the possibilities and the accomplishments that can be achieved after a traumatic injury. And he did it all with grace and dignity.
Have you found yourself respecting someone who got rained on too and made it through?
My friend, Freda, recently reminded me of a term I learned from an educational consultant a few years back. That term is admiring the problem. Admiring the problem is when we drain all our energy by focusing, obsessing, fretting, and talking endlessly about a problem instead of taking action. It seems to me technology fuels this habit. In two seconds we can hop on Facebook and admire our problems to the world. Or maybe we don’t talk about it, don’t share (which is probably worse). Instead we swaddle and cuddle it like a baby, hug it tight to our chest, and let it drive us CRAZY with worry.
Yes, I am guilty of admiring some of my problems. But here’s what I’m trying to do: when such problems arise, I do my best to propose solutions. For example, when I overbook my schedule and am unavailable to respond to emergency caregiving needs, I take a step back. I’m trying to do a better job with scheduling decisions by guarding against binding, irrevocable commitments (or at least in my mind they are perceived as irrevocable).
If you ever find yourself admiring the problem, try the following:
Talk it over with a trusted friend. Determine if you have any influence over the problem.
If not, don’t waste time worrying about the problem. Give it to God, and get on with your life.
If you can influence the problem, brainstorm solutions (see CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN for an example of how my husband and I did this).
Develop strategies or an approach for dealing with the problem.
As you experience success, spread the word. When you take action and experience positive results, you are a model to those around you.
So what do you think? Have you been guilty of admiring the problem?
When our Ronnie had his stroke in 1997, I’ll never forget a lady I met whose husband was in the same rehab facility and recovering from a severe stroke as well. She and I had lunch one day, and she told me how horribly her husband had treated her before his stroke, that he was hyper controlling and verbally abusive. But the stroke had brought a new dimension to their relationship. For the first time ever, he needed her, his face lit up when she entered his room, he told her how much he loved her every day, and he constantly reached for her hand when prior to the stroke they had not held hands in decades. Of course she would have never wished such a traumatic event to strike her husband, but with tears in her eyes she told me what a blessing the stroke had been to them both.
More recently, my dear friend’s husband had a stroke. Over and over she told me what a blessing the experience had been, how neighbors, friends, and people from their church had performed more kindnesses than she could have ever imagined. Her ability to fully appreciate these acts of kindness and exhibit such a positive attitude during such a horrible rough patch continues to inspire me.
Good CAN come from great tragedy. While sometimes it’s hard to see, these two women are a reminder to look for the good each and every day, even during life’s rough patches.
Have you ever experienced the good that can come with one of life’s rough patches?
I believe in angels on earth — because one escorted my Ronnie to the Rod Run in Pigeon Forge, TN last Wednesday. Now this is BIG. An overnighter – two nights, in fact, without ME!!!! We’re talking real manly stuff here. But I did take off from work on Friday and join them. While I enjoyed seeing the cars, visiting with old friends, and discovering the narrow path that edged the river behind our hotel, Ronnie Foster was in heaven. In his younger days, he rebuilt hot rods himself, so he knows and absolutely loves cars.
Ronnie in his friend’s Galaxy convertible, the wind in their hair, the sun on their face, and Rod Stewart on the radio – life doesn’t get much better
Okay, so this is not a first. Ronnie attended the Rod Run last year with this same friend. Except for Ronnie ordering pancakes for three meals in one day last year (which Ronnie still laughs about), they had a fantastic time. This year – no pancakes until our farewell breakfast.
I am forever grateful to all the good guys on this trip who took such good care of Ronnie (I am also grateful for Galaxy convertibles and my personal favorite, Rod Stewart)!