Have you ever wished the world would just stop for a little while and give you a chance to catch up? This virus was not exactly what I was thinking would stop the world, I was thinking more like a mandated nap time... It has however, provided me an opportunity to catch up, organize a bit and get my feet under me, which I feel like I have been trying to do since 2011.
This whole thing has caused us all to adjust what we do, so I’m adjusting back to where I started originally with my blog, online coaching, consulting, gatherings and online education. The trick is making it original and not like anyone else...If you know me or have been to one of my workshop experiences, you know that I am far from traditional or like anyone else!
A little bit about me... I’m 50 years old and I’m married to an amazing man, and have two wonderful boys Andy and Joe both in their early 20’s . I have been in the healthcare industry for over 30 years and worked in Home and Community Based Services including Volunteer Services Director, Home Care and Hospice Social Worker as well as working in Long Term Care for over 15 years. I have supported Caregivers through the worst times and have celebrated them in the best of times. I have taken all the classes, self-educated and gained experience professionally that you can’t read in any book. Having said that, nothing fully prepared me for my own journey...
I met the love of my life at the end of 2009 on a dating site called Plenty of Fish... I always tease him that I caught the big guppy. When you are in a less than stellar relationship for 23 years, it takes a while to figure out that these new feelings are real, and that more importantly, you can trust them. I was looking for a partner that would encourage me to be my best self and offer security, safety and partnership.
We were married in 2011 as a family. Jeff brought stability, direction and accountability to the boys... We have raised some amazing kids!! During this time we were in the middle of shoulder surgeries that were supposed to fix what was causing the pain and limiting his activities and his inability to work to full capacity.
Jeff's body started doing things that were unexplainable and life changing and had nothing to do with his shoulders. After some research... (isn’t that what we all do when we are searching for why...) I determined there was a good chance what Jeff was experiencing was Gulf War Illness. Jeff served in the Gulf War from 1987-1991 on the USS Saratoga in the Red Sea. The Gulf War was the first “Chemical War” and in an effort to protect the soldiers from chemical warfare they gave them Bromide Pills, (this is just one theory) that I believe messed up their Limbic systems by affecting their digestive system, wake sleep cycles, pain center, and a whole host of other things. By definition, in some cases this illness could explain everything from GI issues, widespread pain, and chronic fatigue to memory loss.
Every event, situation and milestone teaches me something that I carefully examine, feel and contemplate so I can bring the understanding forward to professional and family care partners. When we understand “why” something is happening or understand “what” we are experiencing we gain a perspective that helps change the way we experience the journey. The “why” helps us to support more effectively, love a little harder, extend more grace and write better endings to our stories.
In the beginning, we often asked ourselves, “Why is this happening?” Eventually, we realized we just had to create our own “why” to carry on.
The experiences this journey gave us, allows us to take the hurt, heartache, disappointment and joy we can whittle out, and turn it into an understanding that we carry forward to help others traveling the road and the people supporting those journeys.
As a Social Worker and now a Care Partner, I’m able to bring perspective only a limited number of people get to experience. My unique ability to bring it to others through my education experiences allows them to learn it by feeling it. When we feel it... we understand it...
As family and professional care partners, we write a chapter in everyone’s book that we support... how we show up directly impacts people’s stories. They can be amazing stories people tell for years to come, or nightmares they continue to relive... I believe “How we start...dictates where we end...”. My job is to help us see each other as human beings and be responsible to each of our human experiences.