Dec 8, 2011

Bringing in Peace and Joy

There are times in all of our lives, when life's challenges seem so overwhelming...when we have lost someone we love, have a negative health diagnosis, or are helping others whose own sadness, or anger, or loss seems too much to bare.

The period right before the Thanksgiving Holiday and continuing past Christmas is a time of great challenges for many of us. A time when the darkness of winter seems to seek out and overcome the joy, and beauty of the light. It is a time when we are most prone to go into a state of depression and most likely to feel too much pressure and too many expectations of ourselves and of others.

It has been as if right on this schedule, that I have suddenly been surrounded by an abundance of hurt, and hurting friends and family members. A time when my empathic connection and love for them has made it a challenge to walk with them on their journey, but not allow their pain, or loss, or even anger, to come in.... and overwhelm me, as well.

At one point, I was all ready last week to fly up to Alaska with only a day's notice to help out my super stressed family that are burning the candles on both ends trying to care for my mother while still maintaining their own lives, jobs, and families. My mother is in her 7th year of Alzheimer's, but it became a daily live-in family necessity the last two years..and we have all taken turns.

Our wonderful opportunity to have others come in and help us with my mom lasted three short weeks...then, it was suddenly announced that they were done, that it was all that Medicare allowed, and my mother does not qualify for Medicaid because she owns her own home. It was a reality check I expected, but others did not. No special grant existed for us, no special dispensation...empty promises and false hope are harder than the "keep on keeping on" everyone had been doing.

My mother who is blind, diabetic, cannot walk at all, and barely can be held to stand, who sleeps 99% of the time was deemed 'obviously not qualifying for hospice.' And why? Because the woman who makes out the claims who was seeing her for the very first time in her life, got a 'yes' and 'a smile' out of my mom when she greeted her. Alzheimer's, you see, is viewed...and judged... very differently from cancer, or other diseases.

So, that pretty much crushed an exhausted family who does every single bit of the lifting, carrying, bathing, changing, feeding, medicating, and giving of twice daily insulin shots on our own.

My Eagle River sister in law returned from Seattle after just three days. She got no definitive answers from the transplant committee office except that she still needs 3 more tests...that can be done at home in Anchorage and that even if she were to finally be approved based on those tests (no promises of any kind) was a usually a 2 year wait for an O+ kidney and of course, she is barely hanging on now with five hours of dialysis, three times a week.

Then the news, that a dear blogging friend has just been re-hospitalized for a stroke..., and another dear blogging friend has just lost her son. Next, that my very last uncle, by second marriage to my aunt, was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer....someone who has never smoked a day in his life.

In my 'rea'l life, a dear friend in Salem's husband has now been diagnosed with Dementia and after months of outside care, he is now at home. I know from my experiences just how hard that is and how it turns one's world upside down.

It's not easy, it's all very challenging and very, very hard sometimes to stay uplifted. I tell them to have a spirit filled purpose, stay busy doing good and focused things, and find and express gratitude and joy.

For in spite of is still here... inside each, and every one of us. We just have to let the light in.... and we have to remember that we have the power to flip that light switch. I cued up the Christmas music once again, turned on the lights, and brought back the magic of Christmas.

shown above:
our freshly cut Christmas tree with all of my handmade decorations......some I made through the years, some by others......wood, metal, fabric, paper, dried flowers and raffia ;)

And yes..that is a new Christmas quilt. Not perfect, but done. Things that make me happy and fill me and my home with joy.

#6439 – Fly Away Home
Michele Bilyeu
Salem, OR USA

See all of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative December quilts at auction

Bidding ends: Dec. 10, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Michele Bilyeu Quilts With Heart and Hands for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Join in my Liberated Quilting Challenge...and buy or donate a quilt, today!! All profits benefit Alzheimer's research. We are changing the little quilt at a time.


Darlene said...

Just leaving a (hug). The challenges can be so incredibly overwhelming. sigh!

Clare said...

Leaving another hug - a very very big one.


Carol- Beads and Birds said...

A post like this is very important to make. Releasing your thoughts on difficult to both you and to those that read. With so many of your loved ones in difficult situations, you make no plea for sympathy, but choose to keep a positive attitude and cope as best you can. Yes, so many are depressed especially at this time of the year. It helps to have an inspirational word.

Blessings to you. Surely a lighter load is just in the short future for you.
xx, Carol

jenclair said...

Oh, Michelle, I'm so sorry to hear about the challenges you face. Keeping a positive attitude is so difficult when everything seems to unravel at once. I can truly empathize with your situation with your mother and am sending quiet requests to the universe to help find a solution.

Brenda said...

Wow! you have a lot going on, and I admire your courage in facing it all. warm thoughts to you!

ThisQuiltingMama said...

Thank you for articulating what many feel this time of year. I hope the light will fill you with joy and bring you hope today and always-- Lynn

Scrappy quilter said...

Oh sweet friend, wish I could give you a hug in person. Life can be so hard at times, can't it. I loved reading the end of your post where you decided to make Christmas magical once again. Love ya

Angie said...

YOU are such a blessing to all of us. You have such a gift for verbalizing what so many people are experiencing. Your words reignite my gratitude for my many blessings---and YOU are at the top of my list. I keep you and your family close in my heart and thoughts and am sending hugs and prayers---of comfort, of peace and healing, of light and love to surround all of you, and thankfulness (on my part) that you are such a special special friend of mine. Hugs, love, light and Blessed Be Always. Angie

Mad about Craft said...

Nothing I can say will help other than I am thinking about you and your family, also I hope these terrible times pass and other blessings come along.

Wendy said...

Hugs! Hugs! Hugs!

If there's anything I can do, let me know. Though I don't know what I COULD do from here. Just praying hard for you.

Celia said...

Sending you more hugs, and keeping you and your family in my prayers.

West Michigan Quilter said...

Sending you hugs and prayers. Please know that you are not alone.

stitchinpenny said...

It does seem that both good things and bad come in groups. I will pray for peace in your life.

Lynne said...

I don't know what I can say that will the slightest bit of difference - you are in my heart and prayers. *hugs*

quiltmom anna said...

Sending you a big hug and the hopes that your family is given some respite care for your beloved Mama.
Attitude is the thing that sustains our energy- your positive zestful ways get you through.
Wishing a year filled with joy.
Warmest regards,

Purl Buttons said...

You are on my list for positive thoughts and positive energy. Things do get better.

Paula, the quilter said...

I wish I lived next door so I could run over and give you a quick hug. A drive-by hug! But since I am so many, many miles away just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong, my friend

libbyquilter said...

nothing i write here can change all of the things i wish that i could change for you. your struggle and your family's struggle is beyond bearing and my thoughts and prayers are with you as well as my respect for the courage and faith you continue to show as time goes on.

hugs to you.

smazoochie said...

Do you have Hospice care for your Mom?
We just got it for our Mom. It is not just for end of life, people can have Hospice for years & they there as little or as much as needed. And Medicare pays for it.
So many of us are trying to not just see the glass as half full, but see anything the glass at all. Why do we feel obliged to be happy & full of good cheer this time of year?
My empathies to you.