Aunt Baby and Alvin Wesley

Aunt Baby and Alvin Wesley
Reasons I Smile...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thinking of You

Thoughtfulness comes in many forms

Lately it seems I've been sending more sympathy, get well and coping cards.  I guess it's natural the older we get, but it sure doesn't get any easier.

Many of us have lost someone close to us.  Statistics show that most of us have some ongoing chronic illness or condition that causes some degree of pain.  No wonder we appear to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders!

As concerned family and friends, it is a common tendency to want to rush in and fix everything. Some cultures do this much more effusively than others.  Concerned parties are always so well meaning. 

A friend recently commented about how overwhelmed she felt when her sister died.  Her home was flooded with casseroles and cakes, most of which could not be eaten.  People were everywhere for days.  

Quiet time we spent together crying over a cup of tea was when she started processing her sister was gone.  Having suffered for over a year with cancer, she knew her sister was no longer in pain.

This is a close friend.  I knew just what to say and when to drop by.  We have friends you don't need to call first.  These are the friends you can trust your pets with when you need to go out of town for a sick relative.  I call them the "drop everything" friends.

These friends never overstay their welcome.  I find this comforting.  As such, this is the friend that I try to be in return.  Sometimes we need to settle our minds more with solitary methods, such as a warm bath, walking the dog,...

There are other friends and acquaintances that I care deeply about.  However, I would not have the same comfort level of just dropping by as I would family or a very close friend.

I  love to know that I am being thought about.  What a tender and special feeling!

Of course, it is ideal to be remembered for no reason at all - just because!  There are a few older friends of my Mother's that I send cards to "for no apparent reason".  I will get return calls here and there through the year to keep in touch, and it somehow helps me feel closer to her as well.

I had an older, retired friend who was quite sick.  She lived miles away in another state and enjoyed my cards.  While I was not able to attend her funeral, her daughter wrote that my notes always brought a smile, especially my goofy stickers!  I have an amazing collection that could rival any young girl's.

I attempt to write something individualized and meaningful in every card I send.  I always include "thinking of you".  I make an offer of help if it is realistic, finding most are comfortable letting you know when they are ready to reconnect.  I have found that everyone is so different in their rate of healing and need for social interaction.

True friends understand when we need space.  I speak from my experience in 1999.  I was in complete shock, after realizing what had actually happened.  It took me quite some time to "pull it all together".  True family and friends stood by on the sidelines waiting patiently.

And today, I am stronger than ever!  I am certainly sensitive now in giving everyone the space and time they need to heal.  To me, that is "thinking of" the person, loving them and helping them know they are never alone.  

Flowers grow out of dark moments. (Corita Kent)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take Care of Yourself

Always take a few minutes for yourself every day!

Since I was a little girl, I have loved to write letters and send cards , for any reason.  Some of my fondest memories were reciprocal correspondence with my Georgian relatives.  I still maintain close contact with family and friends, no matter where they live. 

Each July, I send out a fair number of retirement cards to friends and colleagues.  Always written in some fashion on these cards is the expression: "take care of yourself!"

I have been a nurse for close to 30 years.  Until 1999, I didn't "take very good care of myself".  Almost dying is a fabulous wake - up call about the importance of now!

Now, I wondered why society, in general, places self care on the back burner?  Some of the reasons commonly discussed in my classroom include:  family (kids, spouse, parents);  work (stress from colleagues, bills, unemployment issues, time and sleep issues); health (yours, loved ones); higher education (time, tuition).

It was inspiring to encounter a student recently who credited his three young sons for helping him "act like a kid", every day, even for a short while.  He reminded us how important it is to take time to play.  As a nurse, he remained optimistic and grateful that he could go home, after a stressful day, to his beautiful family. 

Teaching nurses who are pursuing an advanced degree, I am overwhelmed by the stressors they  are facing.  If you are reading this,  I urge you to thank the next nurse who cares for you.  Sometimes that heartfelt gratitude makes all the difference.

I fully appreciate that every job has a degree of stress.  Today, there is even additional worry with our unemployment rate; and talented people are searching for work.  To me, this makes more of a case for self care on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. 

Come to think of it, I write "take care of yourself" on most every type of note I send!  I guess I feel rather strongly on the subject!  I consider self care a life saver!

My physical  body carries me through the life that God has given me.  Each day I will experience nature and enjoy some kinds of healthy foods.

My mind helps me think about issues with clarity and meaning.  Each day I will exercise it somehow by being creative, social and interactive with those I care about. 

My soul keeps me aligned with my purpose in the Universe.  Each day I will spend time in quiet prayer, meditation and contemplation to develop self awareness and growth. 

How  about you?  Whether you have retired or you are working, what is your plan to "take care of yourself"?

"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier."  (Kathleen Norris)