What’s On Your Bucket List: Caregiving?


We do not remember days, we remember moments.  Cesare Pavese

One of the great aspects of being on the road to Spokane is the anticipation of where the journey will lead me.  Sure, the end of the journey is graduation, but what about the road leading up to graduation? And more importantly, what will happen after graduation?   So many sites to see along the way,  so many people along the route to visit, so many more things to do on my bucket list.

Richard and I were fortunate that we were able to accomplish quite a number of things on our bucket list prior to his cancer diagnosis. Transatlantic cruises  were always tops on our list, and we had quite a bit of domestic trips, too. Lunch in a small mountain side cafe outside of  Arels, France;  hill top view overlooking the green and blue lake, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean at Ponta Delgarda Azores; relaxing after a walk in Cadiz, Spain.

One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip was in the planning!  We would sit down together and look at maps and plan the itinerary as best we could.  While we had a plan in place, we always left room to explore so that we can check off items on our bucket list.  It was fun for us to check items off our bucket list.  As I continue to plan my road to Spokane, it has come to my attention that my bucket is a little dusty.

dust-monitoringOh, there are many things I still want to do that were on our bucket list: visit the Grand Canyon, drive to Mount Rushmore, fly to Hawaii, more transatlantic cruises and a train ride through the Canadian Rockies.  Now it is time to dust off the bucket list!

One thing that was not on our bucket list of things to do was Caregiving.  I doubt Caregiving is on your bucket list, too!

It seems kind of strange to think about Caregiving as something that should be  on your bucket list because in essence,  no one really wants to be a caregiver. Caregiving just happens! It could be an untimely diagnosis or an unfortunate accident. Who plans on being a caregiver? While all of our caregiving experiences are different, there is a part of caregiving that I think we all experience, the beginning and the ending, and in most cases, we are not prepared for either of these life-changing events. We live in the moment of our caregiving journey while desperately praying for a miracle, hoping the next day will be better than the day before, then all of a sudden, it’s over.

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As I look back on our caregiving journey, I know now the good days far outweighed the bad ones. We might not think that way when we are in the midst of the caregiving trenches, but I have come to know that this is true. As caregivers, we sometimes get caught in the mindset that we can do this alone, or that we do not need any additional help. Along the way I learned reaching out for help was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Reaching out for help and being mindful of your own personal health and well-being is job #1 for all caregivers. Yet, easier said than done!

Asterisk_blackSo I think adding a little asterk at the end of your bucket list to include Caregiving is a great thing to do.  The asterk can be a subtle reminder to have all your legal documents in order, or to be mindful of the unexpected, but   most importantly-the asterk will remind you not to procrastinate and accomplish as many items on your bucket list as possible,  because before you know it,  the asterk arrives at the top of your list and your bucket list then starts to gather dust.

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” Radio.  The Road To Spokane is part of a Masters Thesis project leading up to graduation from Gonzaga University in Leadership and Communication.

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January 28, 2016 · 6:06 pm

Symbolism In Communication


What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.  Helen Keller

Now that I am on the road to Spokane, I have quite a bit of stories to share.  During our Caregiving journey I found it was not only important to share our story, but soothing too! While I always will feel part of the vast community of Caregivers, the bottom line is that my role has shifted from caring for someone else to caring for me.  Learning how to care for yourself when coming out of Caregiving is going to be different for each one of us.  I continue to embrace my life after caregiving has ended, some days are better than others.

Something happen recently that I haven’t shared because it has been difficult to put into words, yet alone perspective.  In telling my story to a few close friends’ (which I will get to in a little bit), they reminded me of the story of the yellow butterfly.  Are you familiar with the symbolism of the yellow butterfly?  For instance, in the Christian tradition butterflies in general, symbolizes the resurrection. The caterpillar dies and lives again in th (2) a new more glorious form. In Scotland and Ireland, a yellow butterfly near the departed means the soul is at peace.  When I told my story to my two friends’ (at different times) both recounted their own story about a yellow butterfly in their life, and how a yellow butterfly appeared out of nowhere when they were in the midst of feeling sad about the loss of a loved one.  In both accounts, I was told of the comfort the yellow butterfly brought to my friends and the message they conveyed to me was similar to the beliefs what our friends in Scotland and Ireland believe: the soul is at peace and you can be at peace too! 

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have thought long and hard about life after death: Do people communicate from “the other side” and if so, how?  Friends, just like you, have told me from time to time, their stories of departed loved ones “communicating from the other side” in some form or another.  The latest “after-life communication” story recounted to me is about a special paper towel dispenser in the form of a light house, which when  tapped on top, displays a bright red light followed by a loud bellowing sound of a ships’ horn. The lighthouse towel dispenser can only turn on when tapped on top, yet after the passing of my friends’ husband, there has been instances where the lighthouse simply turns on itself! (That bellowing sound of the ship horn will get your attention.) Does this phenomena have meaning?  Is it my friend’s deceased husband communicating, or is it just a chance event…what do you think?

Richard was a firm believer that “once the lights went out, that was it!” He did not believe in life after death and he did not believe there was communication from “the other side.” Even though my seminary professors would be aghast to hear my say this, I do believe that people who have gone before us, do communicate to us in some form or fashion.  On December 11, 2015…it happen to me! 

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On December 11, 2015 I received a text message (see above) from Richard’s phone which has been disconnected for over  18 months.  Startled, I did not know what to think of this text. When his picture popped up on my cell phone text message screen I had to do a double-take!  Technological glitch? Phenomenon? Message from the other side?  Or as I have come to accept, my yellow butterfly.   

butterflybutterfliesinsec_23727There is no rhyme or reason to this “text” message: no message inside the text, just his smiling face on my screen.  My phone carrier can’t explain it because his old numbers are not in service, and if they were, “how would the new owner know to text my number” the tech said?  I have been cautious to share this story because I have had a hard time understanding the meaning of this text message – that is until I think of the meaning of the yellow butterfly!

As most of my family, friends, radio show listeners, and readers know, I have struggled since Richard made is life transition. Two-steps forward, one step back. Trying to find my place and identity has been challenging since Richard made his life transition.  I do know finishing the Masters degree will be a big boost to my confidence!

During my course of study at Gonzaga in Leadership and Communication, we have looked at the many different communication theory’s, as well as many different forms of communication. However, there is no communication theory  that explains the phenomena of the yellow butterfly better than faith.  I cherish this “message” because I do believe in this form of communication. I don’t know if I will ever get another “text message ” from Richard, but what I have learned from this message is a simple reminder that there is never an ending, there are only new beginnings and Richard is at peace, and I can be at peace too!

“On The Road To Spokane” is my story leading up to graduation in May at Gonzaga University.

Chris MacLellan is the host of “Healing Ties” Radio program and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”

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On The Road To Spokane, WA


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela

Over the next few months you will find me blogging quite a bit about being “On The Road To Spokane, Washington: Why you might ask?  In the summer of 2012 I begin a Masters Program in Leadership and Communication at Gonzaga, University which is located in Spokane, WA.  Now, in the spring of 2016, I am set to graduate!  As you know, quite a bit has happened along the road on my way to Spokane.

GU_Sign_1I was attracted to Gonzaga’s Leadership and Communication program because of my desire to be involved in media.  I had started The Purple Jacket the year before I started the program at Gonzaga  and was about to start my first radio program, “Be A Healthy Caregiver” on Blog Talk Radio.   I ended up with 57 different shows on “Be A Healthy Caregiver” and like, The Purple Jacket, I was happy to share our story through different forms of media.  “Be A Healthy Caregiver” went off the air in the fall of 2013 when Richard’s cancer came back with vengeance, however, I continued to blog on “The Purple Jacket” which will always be our home!  Heck, along the way The Purple Jacket helped coin Richard’s nick name, “TLO: The Little One!”  Amazing, now approaching 2 years sincemarshall Richard made is life transition, I still get asked about “TLO.”  It reminds me of something that I have learned during our course study from media/communication scholar, the late  Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is in the message.”

My thesis  project will focus on Caregivers, Stress and its economic impact on the workplace. There is an estimated 43.5 million family Caregivers in the United States today and Caregiver stress is an epidemic that is not tracked by the CDC.  One of the outcomes of this project will be to demonstrate to the CDC that Caregiver stress is an epidemic that affects both our home and work environments.   One of the goals of the research project is to place a dollar figure to the amount of lost wages for the employee and lost income for the employer.  Unfortunately, government and businesses often do not take human interest problems seriously until there is a dollar figure attached to the issue.

As I get into the project, I will be using Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, Spiral of Silence Theory quite a bit in the process and will quantify the research with surveys to both family Caregivers and employers: I am excited to get going!

Caregiving has changed my life!  While I miss Richard quite a bit, I know through our decision to allow our story to be public, we have helped quite a number of people along the way.  I do hope this final project will bring awareness to the issue of the epidemic of Caregivers stress and bring attention to issues that family Caregivers face at work on a daily basis!

My goal during and after thesis project is  to create:

  1. The South Florida Caregiving Coalition, which will focus on Caregiving, Stress and its effects on the workplace.  This will be a Non Profit organization.
  2. The Whole Care Network, which will be a media website where Caregivers can access information from vendor through podcasts, radio show, video chats, blogs.
  3. My new radio show…Answers 4 Caregivers which will be the feature program of the Whole Care Network.  Answers 4 Caregivers will have two feature segments, Healing Ties dedicated to those of us who are now experiencing life after caregiving.  Our second feature is simple titled #BOW “Bring On Wellness.”  It is important for all of us to be mindful of wellness:  physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual.  These four pillars are the core components to the Whole Care Network and, what I believe to be, the road to a happy and healthy life!

While On the Road to Spokane, I am thankful for assistance from a number of people who will help compiling the data, most notably Denise Brown from Caregiving.com.  Denise has been, without a doubt, the kindest and most helpful Caregiving advocate I have met while on this

Two-lane highway in countryside

road to Spokane.  Denise  has helped so many Caregivers along the way, and has been a champion on the issue epidemic of Caregivers stress. If you are a family Caregiver, you need to be on Caregiving.com!

This is an exciting time for me as I move from my grief of losing my partner Richard  to cancer to, hopefully, helping to make a difference in our Caregiving community.  You can join us on the road to Spokane by sharing your caregiving experience on my blog and filling out our survey which will be available in February.

Thanks for traveling this road with me!

Chris MacLellan is the host of “Healing Ties” and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” which is available on Amazon by clicking  here! 

See our Pulitzer Prize nominated Caregiving story, “In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey by clicking here! 

Visit my new website “The Bow Tie Guy” where you can access all of our radio shows by clicking here

 I started a Caregiving Blog called “The Purple Jacket” which you can see by clicking here

 

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Moving To Acceptance


The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

I’m not sure there is a moving company one can call when you are preparing to move to acceptance.  Moving to acceptance is one of those moves you have to do on your own.  Sure, it is important to receive some help during the move, but in the long run, moving to acceptance is a journey that you have to travel on your own and in your own time.  Moving to acceptance does come with a few bumps inlights the road. While on the move to acceptance, there will be days when the roads will be smooth and the sky so blue that you feel you’re just a stones throw away from completing your move to acceptance. Those days will be quite beautiful! Then there will be days when those darn red lights appear at an intersection which just stops you in your tracks!  That red light just seems linger on and on which makes you want to beat on your steering wheel and scream to the top of your voice so that you can continue on your route. (Those are the days during this move when screaming is Okay!) When you get a red light that just seems to linger, this is a good time to take a break from your move before you run out of gas, because when you run out of gas, you never get to move to acceptance.

There is no GPS device that will help guide you on the move to acceptance however, from time to time, there will be many kind folks who will join you on your ride to help keep you on your path on your move to acceptance.  These “riders” often appear out of the blue sky, and when you need them the most.  They don’t mind helping you with your move, because they see your road from a different perspective and know just what to say, and just what to do while you are on your move to acceptance.   What is great about these “riders” is they reconnect you to your route after those nasty red lights stop you in your tracks so that you can continue on with your move to acceptance! 11410888-smooth-road-ahead-good-times-recovery-yellow-street-sign-1is84y6Some of these “riders” might be on their own move to acceptance, some might have already arrived at acceptance. There will be a “rider” or two who will jump in the car with you who you haven’t seen in a while, yet even after many years have gone by, you pick up just where you left off with these “riders” and your friendship is in full sail again. Heck, you might even pick up a friendly “hitchhiker” along they way, someone you do not know, who pops into your life when you least expect it, who has experienced their own move to acceptance and would like to share their route with you.  All these “riders” have their own place in the vehicle and tend to stay just long enough to ensure you stay on the correct route in order for you to move to acceptance.

 The great thing about moving to acceptance is that you do not have to take the interstate highway to arrive at your destination. Moving to acceptance is better suited for those country roads where you can drive at your own pace, and most importantly, in your own time. There will be days on your move to acceptance where you will want to pull off the road and take the scenic route: Do it! The scenic route will be filled with views of wonderful memories which will help you on your movemoving on to acceptance. Cherish the scenic view! As you get closer to your destination, the scenic views will be like a picture book that sits on your coffee table, however, this book will be forever yours, always entrenched in your memory, always with you on your move to acceptance.

Moving to acceptance can be difficult, but it is a worthwhile move! What is great about this move to acceptance is not only the terrific views, the awesome people you meet along the way, but the ultimate – arriving at the destination with all the memories of the this great move still intact!  Is there a specific “sign” that you have moved to acceptance? No, not really because the “sign” you have arrived at acceptance will be different for each one of us, and that is Okay because all our routes on our move to acceptance will be different, too. Yet a tell-tail-sign that you are getting close to arriving at acceptance is when those scenic views turn from sadness to joy, and you begin to accept, after your long journey in search of what you need – you come to know and understand that what you have been searching for while on your move to acceptance, has, and will always be, in your heart and forever at home with you. This is when then you know, first hand, that you have made your move to acceptance because you now realize and accept that the one you are missing the most, will always right beside you!

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season

Listen and see our video chat with  Denise Brown from Caregiving.com  as Denise interviews me about Moving to Acceptance After Caregiving ends by clicking here!

wpid-wp-1448113432219.jpegChris’ Book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is available on Amazon by clicking here!

 

 

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Holiday Blog Party With Caregiving.com


A Friend Is What The Heart Needs All The Time ~ Henry  Van Dyke

Greetings and welcome to  “The Purple Jacket!”  It is great to take part in the Holiday Progressive Blog Party with my extended family at Holiday-Progressive-Blog-Party3Caregiving.com.  To all my friends at Caregiving.com and especially those first time visitors to ‘The Purple Jacket”, welcome: It is so good of you to stop by!

To our new visitors, I started blogging on The Purple Jacket in 2011 after my partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer, was

Denise and Richard in Lake Worth, FL 2013

Denise and Richard in Lake Worth, FL 2013

diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  Given 3 to 4 months to live, Richard beat the odds and lived another 29 months before making his life transition in March of 2015.  Along the way on our Caregiving journey, we met quite a number of wonderful people through Caregiving.com and I will always be grateful for the support of Denise and our extended family on Caregiving.com while on our Caregiving journey.

Now my writing on  The Purple Jacket is focused on Life After Caregiving.  As I found comfort in writing about our Caregiving experience, I am finding comfort in writing about what life is like for me after caregiving has ended.  Below are some of my most popular blog post on life after Caregiving ends: When Caregiving EndsCaregivers  and Servant Leadership:   Finding Purpose In Life:  Relief, Sadness, Guilt and Joy: A New Bloom

 I encourage everyone to  look at the left hand column of “The Purple Jacket”  where you will see links to our 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominated Caregiving story, as well as links to interviews that Denise conducted with me after Richard made is life transition, along with an interview Denise  completed  with both of us in 2013.  I am sure you will enjoy listening to those terrific interviews.

Holiday HugsWhat’s new and what  is  on the horizon?   My new website “The Bow Tie Guy.com” will be live later this week.  The new website will host all of my Healing Ties Radio programs as well as my new venture “The Whole Care Network.”  When the site goes live this week, I will be sure to let you know.  My first book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” was published in late October and I am happy to give away 5 copies of my book during the Progressive Blog Party!  In January, I embark on a thesis project to complete my Masters degree in Leadership and Communication at Gonzaga University.  I’m sure you will be hearing more about this project after the first of the year!

But most of all, I just want you to feel welcomed and comfortable as you visit ‘The Purple Jacket.”  There have been so many things I learned

Chris & Richard 2011

Chris & Richard 2011

along our Caregiving journey, and one of the most important lessons I learned is that Caregivers have the innate ability to understand each other, to be there for each other, even when our Caregiving journeys are different.  That is why our extended family at Caregiving.com is so very special to me. Even though my Caregiving journey is over,I still feel part of this family.  Feel free to reach out to me if you want to know more about my story.

maxim2_Christmas_balls-150x150Wishing you a wonderful Progressiveness Holiday blog party and a wonderful Holiday season!

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Source


“In our lives, we must connect with the source. We must center ourselves and find where it hides.” Profound words, from a marvelous writer, that touched me deeply today.

Artful Words

IMG_2395“Because when I dream, I feel no fear,
And when I am fearless, I am my most creative self.” ― Nikki Rowe

I, like many other artists, often find myself staring at a blank canvas wondering where to start, how to begin, where to place the brush or which angle to approach. This can be frustrating. But, it is a part of what we do. When this happens we must look deep within and find what we are missing. Sometimes, we can see it staring right back at us. This is the art of finding the source.

The funny part about being an artist is that when we openly express creatively, we most often go blindly into a piece without visualizing the end result. And, many times, even when we have an idea or a visualized concept, halfway through it we change direction, we change color, we might even turn…

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