Thursday, December 08, 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.