Is It 4:30? A Caretaking Dilemma

clock

really hope I had pressed the “mute” button like I thought I had.

If not, my new boss and coworker heard a side of me that does not make me proud.

You see, I had scheduled a conference call at 3:30 p.m. last week, knowing that I needed to be completely wrapped up by 4:30 because I leave the house every day like clockwork to take my 85-year-old father-in-law to the bar.

I am happy to take him to the bar at 4:30 every day, knowing how much he values time spent with his buddies.

What I am not happy about is the fact that “his” 4:30 is wildly more erratic than mine due at least in part to the cognitive changes related to his strokes and other medical issues. This is my caretaking dilemma.

Back to the conference call day: Even though we had discussed the “4:30 plan” (as we do every day) before I went into my home office and closed the door to take the call, there he was at 4:00 pushing on the door (against which I had placed a heavy object to keep the cats out). I excused myself from my coworkers, (hopefully!) pressed the mute button, and asked what he needed.

HIM: “Are you ready to go to the bar?”

ME: “No, it’s not 4:30.”

HIM: “You said 4:00.”

ME: “No, I didn’t. I said 4:30.” (not uttered in my most patient tone of voice)

HIM: [insert angry harrumphing]

ME: [insert slamming of door]

I am not proud that I was so abrupt in how I said “I said 4:30.” I am not proud of slamming the door. I am not happy that my train of thought was disrupted from the conversation I was holding with my co-workers and as a new employee, I am a bit worried about what they think.

The “4:30 skirmish” plays out almost daily.

I know compared to many caretakers with whom I am acquainted, this is a small battle compared to many all-out wars they face. We don’t have to cover the mirrors yet so he isn’t alarmed by “that man in the mirror.” He can still take care of his basic self-care needs independently.

But I suspect the “4:30 skirmish” is a prelude to more daunting hurdles.

Our family is among 42 million Americans for whom the roles have changed. Children are parenting parents and bewilderment abounds. Like this family, convincing a depressed 85-year old to eat presents as big a challenge as does a finicky five-year-old:

During National Family Caregivers Month, I have hope because I have discovered resources for education and support at this site from AARP.

I wish I had read Prepare to Care (a Caregiving Planning Guide for Families) before we became primary caretakers five months ago:

Fortunately, I know there are many other helpful resources at the site, and I am going to be digging in.

But not at 4:30. I have a commitment ….

“I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.”

 

Unbound And A Touch of Perspective

Last week. It had BIG highs, such as having my first Fitfluential Guest Post published and being featured by Spin Sucks in Friday’s Inquisition Seat.

I also had the opportunity to speak to the local Church Women United group about Unbound on their World Missions Day. Even though I feel that it was me benefiting from the morning rather than them benefiting from my presentation, I hope they were moved by the glimpse into Unbound’s work I gave them.

The purpose of the remainder of my post is two-fold.

Unbound Children Need Sponsors

I messed up. I requested information from Unbound to share with the Church Women United group, including folders of children needing sponsors. Because I requested it too late, I did not receive it until Friday afternoon (after my presentation, sighhhhh). Because I have these five folders, I feel led to share them in my blog. Please pray for these children seeking the support of Unbound, which I can attest will change their lives. If you know of a local Tallahassee (or regional/driving distance) alternative Christmas fair where I could possibly share these stories and how sponsorship ($30 a month) could help them, I’d love to know!

Unbound Edited Avo

Unbound Edited ValerieUnbound Edited OmarUnbound Wesley EditedUnbound Edited SugelyFor information on providing Unbound sponsorship for these children, please contact me at paulakiger (at) gmail (dot) com. For other children, youth, and aging seeking sponsors, please visit this link.

Now that I have shared these five children’s images and stories with you, I have a little more to say.

About Perspective, Helping Others, and Yoga

I started off this post noting three wonderful things that happened to me last week. Friday evening, I had one minor (in the big scheme of things) bit of news that brought with it major disappointment, far out of proportion to the importance of the news. For the rest of Friday evening, much of yesterday, and even part of today I have been really struggling to figure out how my usual recipe of 1) help someone else and 2) do yoga was going to help me through this emotional bump.

As Saturday dawned, I ran my second annual virtual 5K for PFC Matthew J England. He was killed in combat in Iraq in June 2008. Here is his Killed In Action Commemorative Flag, displayed on the route of the Missouri 5K yesterday. Thinking of Matthew’s sacrifice and his mother’s determination to honor his memory gives me perspective:

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Also what a great example of having a thick skin and a sense of humor is Ginger Zee? I don’t watch Good Morning America any longer but I still think she rocks. My thin skin and I can take some pointers from her perspective:

Ginger Zee

 (Side note: not every tv weather person is a meteorologist; there’s an academic and credentialing difference. Props to Ginger for everything in this screen shot (okay, maybe not the typo but we’ll blame autocorrect for that!)).

I also found this post helpful, especially the admonition “Be [Darn] Open to the Good” (admonition edited slightly for my audience but click through and read Reason Number 5 for the full effect!).

Right after I had finished the first draft of this post, a friend messaged me on Facebook. It turns out she and I were each feeling a little emotionally tender. When my phone rang, it was her and we had an opportunity to catch up. We did some processing of her issue and then we talked through mine. I cried the tears that needed to be shed, the ones from the deepest part of me that simply wants to belong and was feeling quite the opposite, the part of me that sometimes feels the “insecure” of 15 when I’d rather be embracing the hard-won confidence of almost-50.

As I head out to outdoors night yoga, I am grateful for the restorative power of helping others, for the fact that my emotions may very well become unbound while in bound angle pose, and for the grace of friendship that calms the disquieted heart.

edited sunrise

 

Toastmasters: An Open House Invitation

toastmasters

Frequently, when I mention my involvement in Toastmasters, people express an interest in participating themselves.

This week, there’s a perfect opportunity to find out what it’s all about — our club (Podemos Hablar) is holding an open house!

Here are the details:

Date: Monday, November 10, 2014

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Where: La Fiesta Restaurant (2329 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301)

(Note: one reason I was attracted to this particular club is that it is a Bilingual Toastmasters Club (Spanish/English). It is especially helpful for people trying to improve their Spanish (or for Spanish speakers trying to improve their English). But don’t let that stop you from joining our open house — there are speakers of all levels.)

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!

toastmasters banner

En Español*:

Frecuentemente, cuando hablo de mi participación en Toastmasters, todos expresan su interés en participar ellos tambien.

Esta semana, hay una oportunidad perfecta para descubrir de qué se trata – de nuestro club (Podemos Hablar) está ofreciendo exhibición publica!

Aquí están los detalles:

Fecha: Lunes, 10 de noviembre 2014

Hora: 18:00 (6:00 p.m.)

Dónde: La Fiesta Restaurant (2329 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301)

(Nota:.. Una de las razones que me atraido a este club en particular es que este club es bilingüe (Español / Inglés). Es especialmente útil para las personas que tratan de mejorar su español (o para los hispanohablantes que tratan de mejorar su Inglés. Pero no dejes que eso te detenga de asistir la exhibición publica – hay hablantes de todos los niveles).

Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, haz favor de comunicármelo.

toastmasters juan

Juan, Past President.

 

Shaking hands with Teressa, our club Vice President (and my mentor) after I spoke.

Shaking hands with Teressa, our club President (and my mentor) after I spoke.

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

(Los límites de mi lenguaje son los límites de mi mundo.)

Ludwig Wittgenstein

(Thank you to our club past president Juan for helping me with the translation. I take full responsibility for any errors that remain. // Gracias a nuestro presidente pasado del club Juan por ayudarme con la traducción. Yo soy responsable de los errores que quedan.)

About #BlameJameis

I have been intrigued for a while with the idea of doing an “Ignite” speech. In an Ignite speech, you are bound to use no more than 20 slides over a 5 minute period, with each lasting 15 seconds. I did my first Ignite attempt at Toastmasters a few weeks ago, and have built on that speech to finalize the video presented here.

I hope you will watch the video. If you are short on time, though, and don’t have five minutes, the point is this: Florida State University, even in the worst of times, has always been about more than one person and certainly about more than one hashtag.

My suggestion for the alternative to #BlameJameis:

Here sons and daughters stand, faithful and true,
Hailing our alma mater, F.S.U.

~ FSU Alma Mater

FSU LOGO

Happy Harvest Giveaway Hop

 photo Happy-Harvest-Giveaway-Hop_zpsb4385e1a.jpg

Welcome to the Happy Harvest Giveaway Hop
hosted by Planet Weidknecht 

From November 1-10, you can visit each one of the participating blogs listed below and enter to win prizes worth at least $25. You could potentially win them all! Good luck!

Here at Perspicacity, I am THRILLED to be giving away a $30 gift certificate to Words To Sweat By (WTSB), which has the CUTEST fitness jewelry as well as humorous fitness apparel. (If you aren’t a runner, maybe the term “who fartleked?” doesn’t make you roar with laughter, but it you ARE a runner, that particular baby/children item will soon be your favorite!) I also appreciate WTSB being a sponsor of my team, KR Endurance. WTSB has a true heart for inspiring people to pursue their fitness goals, and they make quality, attractive products that will stand up to a workout. Here are three of my favorites:
Dana Jewelry
dana two
dana four
To enter to win the gift certificate from Words To Sweat By, please visit their site then leave me a comment telling me your favorite product and why it’s your fave! I will choose the winner randomly from among the comments. 
Visit the other blogs who are participating and you may accumulate quite a “harvest” of holiday goodies!

 


Halloween Memories: A Short Story

Halloween Memories

Note from Paula — when I was going through items written by my mother-in-law, Barb, after her death, this short story recounting her Halloween memories is one of the pieces I found among the records she had kept of pieces she had submitted to various publications. The Polaroid picture above was clipped to the hard copy in her files. It seemed like the perfect Halloween “gift” and as I typed it, I could hear her voice in every word. It was the loveliest kind of Halloween “ghost.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did …

A Jack O’Lantern Filled With Memories

It’s October again, and the air is filled with autumn’s crisp scent. To me this means it’s time to pull the orange ceramic jack o’lantern from its resting place on the top shelf of the hall closet. The pumpkin has been there for twenty years, never escaping except for this one month of the year when it leaves the dark and becomes the dining room table’s Halloween centerpiece.

Today, watched by its triangle eyes and smiled at by its toothy grin, I set it on a wicker mat in the center of the table. Placing a candle in its hollow center, I carefully struck a match and brought the season’s hallmark to life. Then as the flame’s warmth caressed my hand, I felt a rush of twenty year old memories.

Chuck was there, a white faced ghost draped in a mended sheet. Beside him stood Patrick grinning a six year old’s toothless grin and wearing a ballerina’s pink tights and net tutu. Ann, dressed in a fleecy blanket sleeper, wore bunny ears held straight by wire coat hangers.

Another son came into view. Wayne? Memory flickered like the candle flame, then resumed its steady flow. Yes, it was him. Then I laughed, for his small self had become a balloon-shaped orange-skinned pumpkin and his head a green stem.

The memories, my real-life now grown children, danced around the candle lit pumpkin and shouted, “trick-or-treat.”

“Do you think my costume will win a prize, mama?” The ballerina shouted, pirouetting on feet that stretched the satin slippers to the breaking point.

“No, I’m going to win,” announced another child with Jim’s voice. He was wrapped completely in multiple layers of six inch gauze. Small slits for eyes, nose and mouth permitted the mummy child to see, breathe and eat.

“Maybe you’ll both win,” I heard myself say, wanting to keep peace between the ballerina and the mummy.

Then as suddenly as they had come they were gone leaving me staring into the pumpkin’s grinning face.

“Do you remember?” I asked, but before the jack o’lantern could answer, my children were back.

“I won the prize, mama,” two voices chorused.

“I didn’t,” other voices chimed.

I looked into the earnest faces and tried to guess the winners, but their smiles hid the secret.

“I won for being the prettiest.” The ballerina bowed low before me.

“I won for being the scariest.” The mummy stood at stiff attention.

“And what about you?” I looked from the pumpkin, to the ghost and the bunny rabbit.

“I bobbed for apples and got one,” said the ghost holding up a piece of half eaten fruit.

“I got the biggest sack of candy,” the pumpkin shoved a crayon decorated grocery bag under my nose.

“And I was so tired, daddy had to carry me home,” sighed the little bunny.

The ceramic jack o’lantern’s light sputtered. Again my memories faded from view. Leaning closer, I passed my hand over the grinning face to check the light. When these scenes were first played, I could both see and hear. Today though, I can only hear their voices, as I am blind. Yet for me nothing has been lost, for God has secreted their happy faces inside my heart, and inside a jack o’lantern filled with memories.

Author: Barb Kiger

The Gift of Security

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.  

prepaid college

Photo Credit: Sarah Stephens Photography

At 18 months, my daughter Tenley had the security of a favorite stuffed animal. At 17 years, she was poised to enroll as a freshman at Valdosta State University, with her tuition already taken care of through the Florida Prepaid College Plan.

My parents bought the Florida Prepaid College Plan for Tenley with a lump sum payment of around $7,000 when she was an infant. That investment will result in approximately $32,000 worth of college education. The ultimate security.  

A Grandparent’s Gift

When I asked him about his choice to purchase Florida Prepaid College Plans for my children when they were infants, my dad said, “I am not a financial genius; however, I was fortunate enough to have the money to invest in our grandchildren’s future.”

Maybe it isn’t genius level to make such a stellar and long-lasting investment, but it is certainly smart if you ask me!

More About Florida Prepaid

The Florida Prepaid College Plan kicked off Open Enrollment on October 15. The Open Enrollment period closes on February 28, 2015. There are two incredible new changes this year:

  • Prices are at their lowest point since 2007 (as much as 50% lower)!
  • There is a NEW 1-Year Florida University Plan with a monthly payment of $43.30 for newborns.

In addition, the $50 application fee for newly opened plans will be waived through December 31, 2014!

Although my parents chose the lump sum option and started when Tenley and Wayne were infants, there are a variety of payment plans for children of all ages. (And payments don’t begin until April 2015.)

For more information, visit the Florida Prepaid College Plan by clicking here. If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, please call 800-552-GRAD (4723).

I am a Blogger Believer because a Florida Prepaid College Plan has been one of the primary factors in securing my children’s future.

What are your dreams for your child’s future?

prepaid college

 

An iPhone6 Giveaway From Baby’s Brilliant

Before we talk about the iPhone6 giveaway, I have a few words about Baby’s Brilliant.

When I participated in a Twitter party recently, I jokingly tweeted this:

delta labs tweet

After my babies were born, we lived in a (wait for it…..) world without apps! To find out what developmental stage was coming up, I would pull out my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. To educate or entertain a baby, I would dangle a stuffed animal in front of their face or pop in a Spanish kids’ songs tape and sing at the top of my lungs (they may still hate me for that!). There were no apps in 1996 and 1999 when my kids were little. How things have changed!

Now there’s Baby’s Brilliant, which offers a variety of short videos, music, languages, and night lights via its app which is available on iPhones and iPads. (The iTunes link is here.)

iPhone6 giveaway

The Baby’s Brilliant app looks promising, and its creators are committed to worthy causes (for instance, they recently donated iPads to a Los Angeles Children’s Hospital). Both of those are good …

What’s also good is the fact that Baby’s Brilliant is currently conducting an iPhone6 giveaway! The Rafflecopter is below, and the giveaway ends November 4.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wishing you the best with the giveaway!

iPhone6 giveaway

Pick My Get A Shot Give A Shot Band-Aid!

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Band-Aid Showdown for Get A Shot. Give A Shot. ® It’s a “flash” vote this year because tomorrow’s the day. (Last year’s post is here.)

(I am a champion for Shot @ Life, the United Nations Foundation program that educates, connects, and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases*.)

For the second year, Walgreens is sponsoring the Get a Shot. Give a Shot. ® campaign. When you receive a flu shot or any other immunization at Walgreens through the campaign, they will help provide a vaccine against polio or measles to a child in a developing country through Shot@Life.

Although the program has been expanded this year (Walgreens will provide vaccines to children in developing countries for every flu shot or immunization administered here in the US between now and June 30, 2015), the BIG push ends on Monday, October 13.

Around our world, 1 in 5 children do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Shot @ Life is developing and maintaining the momentum to help prevent the deaths that occur every 20 seconds among children under age 5 from vaccine-preventable diseases.

A few features to note about Get A Shot. Give A Shot ® :

  • No appointment is necessary (although you can make an appointment here)
  • Most insurance is accepted**
  • You receive 500 Balance Rewards points for every immunization

I have made my pledge:

gasgas pledge

and will be getting my flu shot tomorrow afternoon, on the last day of the fall flu shot campaign. You can make your own pledge by clicking here.

For my flu shot, I need your help selecting a bandaid! Here are the options:

first six bandaids

second six bandaids

third six bandaidsAnd (drum roll please), one that deserves its own mention:

veteran bandaids

I know this is a *quick* turnaround, but please let me know your choice before 3 p.m. tomorrow, October 13. (You can comment on the blog itself, on my Facebook page where I post the link to this blog, tweet me, or comment on Instagram.)
(And thank you to Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid for the $3 off coupon they sent for me to use in purchasing the favorite!)
coupon

I’ll be interested in your thoughts about the BandAid choice but most importantly I would LOVE your participation — either through getting your flu shot at Walgreens (and by doing so getting a child vaccinated through Shot @ Life) — or by simply sharing the important message of Shot @ Life: that $20 (what some of us spend per week in coffee) can immunize a child against pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio!

For more information:

Shot @ Life website: www.shotatlife.org

Shot @ Life Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShotAtLife

Shot @ Life YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/shotatlifecampaign

Shot @ Life Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shotatlife/

Shot @ Life Donation Page:  Click here.

Walgreens-Joins-ShotAtLife-e1378630405410

LET ME KNOW YOUR FAVORITE BANDAID. THE ONE WITH THE MOST FANS WINS! AND IF YOU PLEDGE TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT, TAG ME ON THE SOCIAL MEDIA SHARE, AND USE #GETASHOT, I GUARANTEE I WILL WEAR YOURS EVEN IF I HAVE TO WEAR 20! 

Epilogue: The “Veteran” themed bandaids one overwhelmingly! Support Our Troops, Y’all! (And thank you to pharmacist Tammy and store manager Vernon for their help.)

SAL 2014

*Some verbiage taken from Shot @ Life materials.

** in full disclosure I need to let you Capital Health Plan/Tallahassee state employee folks know it is not covered under the state employee contract. I paid the $31.99 cost.

 

The Cancer Color of October Is …

The Cancer Color of October is … not always PINK.

SONY DSC

It is October, and pink predominates pretty much everything because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important to me because I am the daughter of a survivor and have seen countless friends, acquaintances, and fellow humans (women and men) be diagnosed with this disease. Some are (blessedly) still alive and thriving; others have passed away. As a woman, I face a 1:8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in my life. Therefore, for selfish reasons research should be supported. However not all “pink” is effective “pink,” and there are many other causes out there of which we need to be aware and for which we need to take action.

When Pink Makes Me See Red

I am wearing a lot of pink this month, and having been a multiple-year captain at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, I am in full support of many efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer and fundraise toward support and research. Here in Tallahassee, October 2014 is fully in pink bloom, with many our our city’s leaders and brightest lights leading the way. However, it is important to know that not every product robed in pink does much good and to make well-educated purchasing decisions.

When Pink Has Gray Areas

It is also important to respect the connotations all that pink carries for people currently dealing with breast cancer, either for themselves or a relative. Sarah Thebarge writes eloquently of the evolution of her feelings about pink as a color representing breast cancer here.  She also wrote a superbly useful list of 31 Ways to Help a Friend Who Has Breast Cancer (visit it here) which goes beyond wearing pink.

But Paula You Said This Post Wasn’t Just About Breast Cancer!

It’s not. I want to encourage you to add some “blue” to your October observances (I know, now it’s feeling baby shower-ish up in here, isn’t it?). My friend and former coach, Jeff Kline, has stage 4 prostate cancer.

jeff running

Jeff Kline of PRS Fit

Jeff has devoted October to running across the United States with a goal of motivating men to get screened (his point is that if he had done a simple screening a few years ago, his cancer would have been caught at a time when treatment would have been simpler and the prognosis would have been much more hopeful). One of Jeff’s initial blogs about his diagnosis and decision to run cross country is here. Jeff and a team of supporters are running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26, 2014, to raise funds for ZERO (an organization dedicated to ending prostate cancer).

M2EPC

In support, I will be participating in a virtual half marathon on Saturday, October 25, 2014. It occurred to me one day that the drive from my house to my favorite traffic light, The Optimism Light, is roughly half of a half marathon, so my route will either begin or end at the O.L. to symbolize optimism that men will commit to getting themselves screened so they can be around for their families and friends for a long, long time. (Early detection can involve a simple blood test. Read more about detection options here or visit this site to donate.)

Got it: PINK, BLUE, and … GRAY?

I have had this “pink and blue” post planned for weeks. One individual’s story presented itself to me via friends, though, and it is important (and time sensitive) to add it here. Andy Nichols is the brother-in-law of a friend (as she puts it “the brother of my heart.”). Andy has an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumor, which is in the same family of brain tumors as the one my friend Dustin had. When I learned that Poplar Head Baptist Church is holding a 5K race in Blountstown on October 11 in Andy’s honor (to help with expenses not covered by insurance as well as raise awareness), and that his friends wanted help getting the word out and generating as much participation as possible, I knew in a heartbeat that I would be heading west that day. If you are here in North Florida, please consider coming over to Blountstown and participating in the race. You can register via this link.

Andy and his family chose the "I have hope" phrase to symbolize hope for a cure for ALL forms of cancer, not only brain cancer.

Andy and his family chose the “I have hope” phrase to symbolize hope for a cure for ALL forms of cancer, not only brain cancer.

If you are not able to participate in the 5K or mile Fun Run, but would like to show your support by purchasing a t-shirt, sponsoring the event, or making a donation, you can contact Tiffany Nichols at run4andy@gmail.com or Clint White at 850-643-8584.

So Many Causes … Where Do I Go From Here?

I wish I knew! I have only scratched the surface, with a bias toward the fact that it’s October, that my mom (pictured in this post with a pink bird of hope) is a breast cancer survivor, that Jeff is running across the country to encourage men to get screened for prostate cancer, and that Andy and his family need our support on October 11. My friend Mary Jane, a multiple myeloma survivor, is organizing a team for the NYC Half Marathon in March via Team in Training so you’ll be hearing about that, for sure. As to “where do I go from here?”

cancer colors

This graphic is from www.crochetforcancer.org.

In a sea of choices, the best recommendation I can make is the same one I would make if you were drowning in a literal sea: clear your head, get your bearings, look for the surface, orient yourself toward the shore, and take action. Your action may be donating funds, running in a race, running for a cause (hello, Charity Miles and Stand Up 2 Cancer!), or simply telling someone who has cancer “I am here for you” or asking their family what you can do to help.

Whatever you choose, don’t for a minute let yourself believe that your contribution is too small or won’t matter.

My mom, Jeff, and Andy would surely feel differently …

photo by: