Five Minute Friday: GUIDE

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: GUIDE .

Five Minute Friday

Have you ever used Pablo, Buffer’s image system? It has little grid lines, one horizontal and one vertical, that help you make sure your image is perfectly centered.

I use PicMonkey too, and begged them several times to have guide lines too. They eventually did (but probably not because of me…). The funny thing is although the guide lines/grid marks were helpful, they also constrained my ability to move my image around (but I was still glad to have them!).

I almost didn’t write tonight. I have been battling a “bug” the last 48 hours and feel more low-energy than I have felt in a long time. I suspect it’s a combo of something physical, my son leaving home (hello empty nest), and all the financial questions we face with two kids in college and the fact that I just left one of my part-time jobs (here’s hoping my strategy there was on point!).

I think maybe I should be letting my body be my guide. It’s telling me something (rest? slow down? eat better?). It was HARD to cancel my obligation last night (to do a preview of a play for Broadway World, something I love doing). I really really really hate to let people down.

And I guess *maybe* what my body has been trying to tell me is that I have been letting myself down.

Time to cling to some effective  guidance and get centered again.

What will that look like? I know nutrition is a big part of it. Also, exercise. I have let my cardiac issues back me into a corner on that and it’s time to take control again, to prevail over the fear that comes with almost any workout lately.

I also hope my kids feel the effects of the guide I tried to be over the years of their childhoods. Now that they are out of the house, there’s no more micromanaging, no more constant face-to-face. I have to hope the guidance I gave took.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: SPEAK

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: SPEAK .

Five Minute Friday

When I decided to transition out of the part-time independent contractor job I have held for almost three years, I found it impossible to speak to my boss about it. She had sort of opened the door a few weeks prior as we had been talking about relief arrangements during my father-in-law’s illness, and she said, unprompted by me, “and also maybe for your permanent transition too.”

I’m not sure if she just sensed it or what

But after he passed away, it became apparent rapidly that I needed to find work where I can earn more and I’ve learned enough about myself these past three years to know I need more structure.

The thing is, I loved (still do) this place. As I said in my “job hunt” blog, it was more than a job.

Not every job has a Slack channel/Basecamp page strictly for Thanksgivings and Prayer Requests. Not that they all should, or have to, but it was  fit at this place and it made a difference.

I “requested transition” via an email.

Then several other email exchanges happened.

Then things got confusing.

Probably because we never did speak!

(We eventually did, and it was a closure type conversation, one that helped me come to some emotional conclusion and peace.) I keep thinking I should have found it in me to speak rather than mail from the beginning.

I prefer writing to speaking. She (in my opinion) prefers speaking to writing. Maybe that is the crux of the problem!

Speaking conveys things (emotion, body language) that writing can’t AND forces us to figure out our message right in the moment without constant revisions. SORT of like this Five Minute Friday exercise!

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: Inspire

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: INSPIRE.

Five Minute Friday

My thoughts on inspiration tonight may be a bit on the “dark” side as opposed to the “shout it from the rooftops, I am so inspired by [identify inspirational person/thing/book/place/moment].”

It’s difficult to write about the specifics without revealing some fairly private musings and identifying the person involved.

There are inspirations in our family. People have overcome physical challenges. People have overcome the loss of siblings who, while not at all forgotten, do inspire us (or I guess I can only speak for me) to be better, to try not to leave important messages unsaid, to know tomorrow is never guaranteed.

There is one thread of inspiration running through our family’s story, and I now see that the way we have framed that may actually put one of the people at the center of the story in the most awkward of positions.

I don’t think that person wants to be the fulcrum on which our balance of inspirational material centers. I don’t know that an apology matters. I think they would understand why we framed things the way we did, why I personally blogged about it the way I did.

But I am left with the reminder that glorifying others, and telling them how inspirational they are, does not always make them feel good. Sometimes it creates more pressure than we intend.

I will think, harder, the next time I single someone out as an example, and try to be more sensitive to the way they process what I think is a positive. They may not want or need the attention. It may have the opposite effect of what I intend.

I do love a good inspirational story though!

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Five Minute Friday: Collect

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: COLLECT.

Five Minute Friday

I am tempted to write about another kind of “collect” – emphasis on the first syllable as in the “collect” that is read during a church service, but a different “collect” (emphasis on the second syllable) is in my head.

I went to church with my daughter at her church for the first time Sunday, and when it came time to collect the offering, I found myself inserting my donation into a POPCORN BUCKET. I mean, her church is quite laid back but I didn’t understand at first.

The church is doing a summer series, “Summer at the Movies” and the entire theme is around movies and theatres (hence the signage on the way in, the popcorn being served, and the …… popcorn buckets used to receive offerings).

I love themes.

But I also love the fact that no matter what the outside receptacle, the contributions we choose to make are consistently the same. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the trappings that don’t matter.

When I go to my family reunion Saturday, someone’s baseball cap will be used to collect the money we contribute annually to pay for paper goods. That always makes me smile …. so functional ….. so “family reunion.”

I am so glad I had the opportunity to go to church with my daughter. The theme was “Finding Dory” and (spoiler alert) how, despite being separated, her parents never stopped believing she would find her way back to them.

They worked every day to make sure she had a path back (several paths back) and they, being parents, remained in one place so she wouldn’t get confused.

Don’t we all need a central source of love that always believes we’ll make it back?

Five Minute Friday

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Five Minute Friday: Comfort

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: COMFORT.

Five Minute Friday

It has been a bit of my pattern over my life that I found comfort (or maybe excitement? satisfaction?) from being “the new” whatever. The new student. The new parishioner. The new employee, not afraid to figure things out.

Today, at Wayne’s dad’s funeral service, something happened at Blessed Sacrament, his church, that brought me comfort. I am not Catholic, but I have participated in many services and events there since Wayne’s parents were (his mom was what I call an uber-Catholic — VERY involved). I took them to mass after Dad stopped being able to drive, so I was there weekly for almost two years.

But I (of course) never took communion. And it was not the kind of Catholic church that said “you can still come up during Communion, with your arms crossed, and get a blessing.”

TODAY THEY DID! After so many years of being walked past by people leaving my pew to go to Communion, I got to join them.

I will never “fit in” in that church unless I convert, which is very unlikely. But that one change on the part of this parish brought my comfort today.

It reminded me, for some reason, of the founder of Unbound, Bob, who had a very earthy, comfortable way of conducting mass. I can picture him now with his guitar and his songs, which at first I found sort of simple but over time developed a deep complexity for me.

 

Five Minute Friday

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Five Minute Friday: STEADY

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: STEADY.

Five Minute Friday

When I picked up a prescription for my husband yesterday, the staff person said hello to me as if he knew me. I scrambled to see his nametag (I am Faceblind, so these types of interactions are complicated). Turns out it was Justin, who usually works at the Publix where my father-in-law has his prescriptions. He happened to be doing a shift at “our” Publix.

“Yeah —- your brother comes in sometimes to pick up prescriptions right?”

Brother?

I corrected him: HUSBAND.

But this question, like the “are you retiring?” questions I received when I left my job in 2014, carried so much more weight than the questioner intended.

We celebrate our 25th anniversary in August. Are there times when this marriage hasn’t been “fiery,” volatile and spark-y? Yes.

But brother?

The thing is, I have grieved the opportunities for a “spark” thing over the years, in very deep ways.

BUT over the last six months, I have watched my husband be the steady hand/arm my father-in-law needs as he becomes increasingly Unsteady. It has not been pretty and as I have written about elsewhere, lots of bodily fluids have been involved. Lots of difficult behavior wrangling too. But there’s nothing more attractive than a man taking care of a loved one.

Five Minute Friday

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Five Minute Friday: WORTH

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: WORTH.

Five Minute Friday

Worth is a concept that presents a challenge to me. It’s easier to ascribe worth to someone else than it is to myself.

Especially over the last three years, after I quit my “real” job and began the patchwork of caregiving + part-time work + life, I have increasingly found myself asking “how do they do it?” when I see friends/acquaintances juggling a “9-5,” family, and community obligations.

I have had several conversations recently with friends about what “counts.” I will admit I am a bit driven by external recognition — certificates, being mentioned on social media, winning awards (I used to aspire to be an FSU “Grads Made Good” but that ship has probably already sailed as far as it being a possibility – unless I write an amazing book – you never know!!). But there are smaller, subtler things that have worth too. A couple of times recently, people have made it a point to mention how they used a green pen I gave them and it made them smile. A simple green pen!

But I don’t give green pens to just anyone. Choosing to give one means something worthy, maybe just to that person and me, but there is optimism in the exchange. Maybe I need to remember to give myself that same optimism, every day.

The caregiving life is full of times you wonder if your choices matter, if anyone notices, especially the recipient of the caregiving. [STOP]

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Five Minute Friday: EXPECT

This is my first week to join “Five Minute Friday.” This is the deal, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: EXPECT.

Five Minute Friday

I read this “expect” prompt last night, and several different thoughts on it ran through my mind as I drifted off to sleep. First and foremost, I think, are my expectations around this close-to-the end phase of caregiving. As yesterday would attest, I can’t expect to string together a full sentence (written or spoken) without being interrupted. My father-in-law, who sleeps for hours-long stretches now as his cancer continues its assault on him, has his most restless times at exactly the moments I need to concentrate. I gave up yesterday and called the home health agency to hire someone to come attend to him after Wayne has to leave for work, so I can finish the part of my day that is deadline-driven. It’s unfair to Dad for me to be frustrated and stressed about dealing with his bathroom needs (which take FOREVER and result in massive cleanups afterwards) as well as his pain management.

Also on the topic of expectations, he is meeting exactly what the book we were given by the hospice workers predicted about this stage: confusion, talking about loved ones who have passed, etc. Yesterday, he asked for my mother in law, who has been dead almost four years. “She’s not here,” I said. “Is she still alive?” he asked. I responded she was not. “We’re dropping like flies,” he said. It was a rare and crystal-clear accurate moment of lucidity from a man who tried to smoke a slim jim the other day, thinking it was a cigar.

This is all new to us. We don’t know what to expect. It is frightening and there is the sense that we only have this one time to help him navigate his death experience – it isn’t about “not messing it up” but about focusing on it with grace. 

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.