Category Archives: After Caregiving

A Birthday Gift: Introducing TLO Travel and Tours.


Wherever you go, go with all your heart. Confucius

Richard would have celebrated  his 86th birthday today, (January 24th) and I think it is fitting to formally announce my new endeavor in his honor, TLO Travel and Tours!  For those who have been reading my blog since Richard was diagnosed with esophageal cancer will know that TLO was the fun-loving acronym I used in my blog posts to describe him when writing about our caregiving journey.  TLO simply means, “The Little One” …remember, Richard stood a foot shorter than me!   Richard loved to be called TLO, and Richard loved to travel.

wp-1454002775318.jpgAs I continue to advocate for family caregivers and for those like myself, whose caregiving journey has ended, I wanted to find an opportunity that celebrates our love, care and commitment in all shapes and forms in a way that is unique.   During our eleven years together, we spent time cruising in Europe and traveling by car and plane throughout our beautiful country.  TLO Travel and Tours is not only dedicated to Richard, but to all current, past and future caregivers and their caree’s. Traveling with your caree may not be as impossible as you might think.

I can imagine that many of my caregiving friends are thinking…”Travel with my caree…how can I do that?”  Well, let me tell you about a wonderful proAccessable travelgram called Special Needs At Sea.  I learned about Special Needs at Sea when Richard and I were booking a cruise in January of 2014. Special Needs At Sea can provide you will just about any durable medical product, from oxygen to a hoyer lift and most importantly, a scooter to help make transportation easy on any cruise ship for your caree.  Special Needs At Sea can deliver the product to your stateroom, your hotel room and even your home.  Special Needs At Sea is located in Fort Lauderdale and available in over 150 ports world-wide.  As a certified Accessible Travel Advocate, I can help arrange all your durable medical equipment needs with our friends at Special Needs At Sea.

What’s ahead for TLO Travel and Tours?  We have group cruises on the horizon, four international train tours planned through 2020 including, The Canadian Rockies, Italy, the United Kingdom, and a very special Passion Play tour in 2020.  Through my association with Travel Planners International, I have access to all the best rates for land, air and sea travel that you would see on any travel website.   As we grow into the travel business, TLO Travel and Tours will focus on group tours for current and former family caregivers, retreats to re-energize, while engaging organizations to bring their conferences and workshops aboard a cruise ship or a retreat center.

TLO Travel and Tours is pleased to announce our association with Hope Love Company. Hope Loves Company (HLC) is the only non-profit in the U.S. with the mission of providing educational and emotional support to children and young adults who had or have a loved one battl2017-01-23ing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s. TLO Travel and Tours is the preferred Travel Company of Hope Loves Company as this wonderful organization travels to Iceland in the summer of 2017 for a terrific international camp for kids who care for their parents with ALS.  To learn more about Hope Loves Company, be sure to visit their website Hope Loves Company (HLC)  and listen to my podcast with Jodi O’Donnell-Ames, Executive Director of Hope Loves Company.   [/audio

Richard and I were fortunate to not only spend 11  wonderful years together., but to spend quite a bit of time traveling as well.  Whether it was sporting our Bow Ties on a formal night on our cruise, dining in the French Alps, or just hanging out together, we always found something to do together.  Making travel easy for those we love and care for is possible.

 This is an exciting time for me as I continue to grow my Whole Care Network brand with new radio shows, individual and corporate training events and now travel and tours.  Our new TLO Travel and Tours website is now live, but still in the development stages.  You can visit the travel website by simply clicking here!

When caregiving ends, its not surprising that we find our self lost and picking up the pieces of a life that was left behind.   That has been me for quite some.  I started to turn the corner with my grief about six months ago which means, I don’t miss him any less, I can now be present to myself and move on with my head held high.  Now, my next challenge is to step outside my comfort zone and get back to things that I am passionate about…travel and advocacy equals passion for me!

Welcome to TLO Travel and Tours, part of the Whole Care Network!  Feel free to contact me direct at chris@tlotravelandtours.com

2 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, TLO Travel and Tours

Sharing The Light


Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection. Winston Churchill

Richard and I  had a Christmas Eve tradition where he would make a reservation at one 20161219_220258of his favorite restaurants for Christmas Eve dinner and then we would take a ride down A1A in Palm Beach and Broward Counties to look at the spectacular Christmas lights adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.   We would always marvel at the tremendous configurations of lights as we motored down the road.   A palm tree wrapped in Christmas lights is something you just don’t see in Brooklyn or St. Louis.  I’ve made the same trip down memory lane the last two Christmas Eve’s and plan to do the ride again this Saturday on Christmas eve 2016.

It is amazing to me that I am approaching my third Holiday Season without Richard. (I use Holiday only because Richard was Jewish and I am Catholic)  My,  how time does fly!

The first Christmas without Richard was difficult.  One of the events that got me through the ride was Caregiving.com 36-Hour Christmas Care Chat.  While chats are available just about 24/7 on Caregiving.com, this chat was special, at least to me.  I will never forgot the kindness of the volunteer, @RoaringMouse,  that Christmas Eve in 2014.   We chatted for I guess almost an hour, we laughed, we cried, we reminisced… we were just there for each other.   Thanks to my chat with @RoaringMouse  I understood that while this ride would be different, the ride  would be just as meaningful as it was the year before when Richard was sitting next to me in the passengers seat. @RoaringMouse helped me  realized that I really was not alone on that first Christmas without Richard.

Caregiving.com 36-Hour chat starts this Saturday at noon and will continue on through midnight on Christmas night.  “Volunteers who understand” just like @RoaringMouse, will be there to lend support,  and be there for you, no matter where you are on your caregiving journey.   I know I will never ever forget, and will be forever grateful, for my time with @RoaringMouse on Christmas Eve 2014.

wpid-wp-1419525603576.jpegSure,  that old cliche’ is true, time heals all wounds, but wounds heal in their own time.  Each one of us adjusts differently when the one we love makes their life transition.  My mind tells me that he is forever pain free, my faith tells me that I will see him again, my heart tells me he will be sitting right next to me on our drive on Saturday night.

Sometimes in order to move forward,  we just have to look back on our past. 

Visit Caregiving.com to learn more about the 36-Hour CareGiving Chat and how you might be able to participate.

No matter where you are on your caregiving journey, you’ll be glad that you stopped by for a cup of comfort.

when-you-need-comfort-when-you-need-companyour-36-hour-caregiving-chat-1

2 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving

It’s All About Forgiveness


To understand is to forgive, even oneself. Alexander Chase

The road to Spokane is in its final stages as there are only two chapters left to write for my thesis “Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.”   I owe a big thanks to Denise Brown from Caregiving.com for helping me gather statistics for the thesis.   I had two hypothesis to prove in my thesis, so far the data tells me that I was able to prove one of them.  I will be sure to reveal the results of the study in May after the thesis has been approved and submitted.

20160323_081923.jpgWhile attending the American Society on Aging Conference in Washington, D.C., I was struck by not only the information that delivered at the conference, but the commitment of the professionals in attendance.  Another added benefit was the chance to connect with quite a number of social networking friends, people who I have collaborated with of the years online, yet have never had the opportunity to meet in person.  I was fortunate to be able to attend this event.

Something hit me square in the eye while in Washington, D.C. that is difficult to explain, but quite profound.   During one of our discussions at the conference, I suggested to the group that there is plenty of information for caregivers and those who are in the  aging profession, but I did not see much information on life after caregiving ends.  (A few eyebrows where raised when I made this point!) Yes, there is an estimated 43 million family caregivers today in the United States, but what happens to caregivers when caregiving ends?   Do family caregivers just go back to  daily life without recognizing, or better yet, dealing with the dramatic change in life when caregiving ends?

I had to look inside my heart for that answer.  And for me, that answer centered around forgiveness.

In order to fully grasps and move on with life after caregiving,  I had to first forgive myself, forgive myself for moving on with my life.  Seems strange after all most two years past Richard’s life transition, but yes, life after caregiving has to include a bit of self-forgiveness.   I then had to  forgive myself for the bad decisions I made during and especially after caregiving ended.  I had to forgive myself for not taking better care of myself both physically , emotionally, spiritually and financially.  But most of all, I had to forgive myself for being afraid to continue on with my life after caregiving ended.

HealingProjectYou see, caregiving was just a small portion of our life together.  Time wise, eleven years together, pales in comparison in relation to the six months of intensive caregiving that transpired in our relationship.  However those six months of intensive caregiving takes a relationship to new heights, new destinations and at least in our case, a deeper love and commitment that is impossible to replace.  I marvel, and often wonder about couples who have been together 30, 40, 50 years then suddenly find themselves in the role of a family caregiver.

Our time in caregiving ends: Our time in love is endless. 

For me, life after caregiving is about learning to forgive myself. When I came to the realization that I had to first forgive myself in order to fully move on with my life, a little bright light went on in my head, (thanks to a wonderful conversation with my friend Sam Chalfant) allowing me to understand and accept, that living in the past does not help the present, nor the future: living in the past puts life on hold.

Just like our caregiving journeys are different, so will our journeys be different when caregiving ends.  Sharing our stories after caregiving ends is just as important as it was while in the midst of caregiving.  Because in the end, somewhere along the line, forgiveness, in some form or another, will be part of the healing formula for each one of us to experience, so that we can fully embrace our life once again after caregiving ends.  Sharing is caring… before, during and after our caregiving experience, so  that our hills are light, and with a gentle breeze always at our backs.

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

The road to Spokane is my virtual story leading up to graduation from Gonzaga University

2 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, Grief

Two Years Past


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle

We are taking a break from the thesis project today to remember a significant day in our life. For as long as I live, I know March 9th is going to come around every year.  Significant in the sense that I will always remember March 9th as being the day that Richard made his life transition.  Together as one, our lives changed forever on that day in 2014.

Sure, the pain of losing him has gotten softer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him quite a bit.  The love we shared is still strong.   I did not want the day to go unnoticed, nor do I want to belabor the point either.   Finding that gentle balance when you lose the love of your life takes time.  Getting over it, means something different to each one of us.  We don’t really get over it, we adjust to it and move on as best we can. The love we shared is still strong in my heart and always present in my life.

I’m not sure what I will do when March 9th rolls around next year, but what I do know for sure is that my faith tells me that I will see him again, my mind tells me that he is forever pain free and my heart tells me that he is standing right behind me.

Enjoy some of our favorite photo’s from our eleven years together.

  Never miss out on a chance to tell that special person in your life that you love them!

6 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

Bowling For (No) Dollars


Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.  Napoleon Hill

thesis-writing

Photo Credit: Neny2ki@blogspot.com

The road to Spokane got a little bumpy this past week as I ended up having to rewrite Chapter 2 of my thesis.   No big deal, other than it will make this week a little more hectic as I approach my next deadline of February 22nd for Chapter 3, but the road is  clear!   Within the next week, I will have a survey to distribute and will be asking many of you to take an anonymous survey on Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.  My good friend, Denise Brown at Caregiving.com has graciously offer to help in this process.    Everything surrounding writing a thesis is a process, even down to having the survey approved by the department.  It been quite a learning experience.

Approaching my fifty-ninth birthday, Richard’s 2nd anniversary of his life transition, and

past futurer now

Now Future Past

writing my thesis has afforded me the opportunity to take inventory of the past while pondering what lies ahead of me in the future.  It’s pretty simple: can’t do anything about the past, not sure about the future, today is what is important.  Boy, did it take me a few years, and a lot of knocks on the head to figure this out and...to apply this little bit of philosophy to my life.   I thank my friend Sam for his sage advice, reminding me of the importance to let go and let live.

wp-1455587268733.jpgI know during Richard’s illness and especially the last six months of his life, all my attention was solely focused on him. (And I have no regrets!)  I constantly worried about tomorrow, along with worrying  about the past, while in the process of being attentive to the present. Whew…What a load to carry! Adjusting my thought process to focusing on “today” has not be easy, but I sense the transition in my thought process is changing.  Compassion fatigue is slowly withering away. 

Over the years while writing this blog, I’ve focused most, if not all of my attention of my writing about Richard’s illness and our life together. While I did the writing, Richard and I conversed regularly about the next topic to post on the blog.   This blog was one of the many things that we enjoyed doing together.  Now I write in memory of Richard, anticipating what lies ahead for me. 

I think one of the reasons life after caregiving has been so difficult for me is because my perceive purpose in life changed at the time of Richard’s life transition.  I am now just learning, thanks to my friend Sam, that is not the case.  My purpose in life is to take care of myself too.  Like so many other caregivers, my life got caught in the shuffle of the day-to-day responsibilities of being a family caregiver. You lose yourself in the midst of caregiving: somehow, one has to get their life back.  Sometimes you do have to look into your past to wp-1455586923324.jpgfind your future. 

Part of my past includes bowling professionally in the mid 80’s. Traveling on the Pro Bowlers tour was quite an exhilarating experience. Most people who know me today would be surprised to know that underneath my perceived laid-back personality, was (is) a very highly competitive, emotional bowler. When  asked about my bowling career, I always use a baseball analogy, “great at the Triple-A level, just could not get over the hump to be successful in the major leagues.”   (I will leave the reasons for that for another blog post.)  The last professional tournament I bowled was in 1987 in Baltimore, MD., and while I dabbled from time to time in league bowling, I have not picked up a bowling ball since I last bowled in a  league in 2001. That changed just a few weeks ago.

My friend Sam encouraged me to start bowling again with some of his friends who go to the lanes on a weekly basis.  Reluctant at first, (and fearful that my arm might fall off after my first throw), I decided to give it a go.  Since that first endeavor to the lanes a month ago, I have been bowling now 4 more times.  Even without my own bowling ball and shoes, I have had a blast and will look forward to getting in better physical shape so I can bowl more games this year.

I have heard some suggest that those who do not learn from the past are destine to repeat it. I understand the meaning behind this statement. What I have learned from my recent past is not to live in fear and isolation.   However, what if we looked into a part of  our past in order to help us find meaning to the present, and to our future?   Many people over the years have asked me why don’t you bowl?  Life-long bowling friends have said to me, “I can’t believe you don’t bowl anymore.”  Yet for some reason, my friend Sam got me to bowl again and I will be forever grateful because I learned a lesson about having fun again and more importantly, letting go of fear and isolation.

Sam is kind of in the same lane I am in, his partner of 19 years passed away in March of 2015, yet his grief process is different from mine.  That is to be expected!  However, through his grief process, he has helped me along the road to step outside my isolation and comfort zone.  Bowling was the key that has started the engine: Somehow I think Sam knew that! 

Now, I am not saying that I am going to go out and get in shape an bowl a few tournaments again.  But who’s to say that I can’t do that…I am not fearful anymore!  I bowled for a living for a number of years, now bowling has reminded me how to enjoy life again.  In planning your future after caregiving ends, take a step back and remind yourself to enjoy life to the fullest, even if it means taking a look at your past.  Along the way, I hope you find a Sam in your life to help open the lane for you to your present and future.

I’m not bowling for dollars anymore, however I am bowling to get my life back, which far exceeds any monetary  value.

Chris MacLellan is affectionately known as “The Bow Tie Guy” in many caregiving circles and  is the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” and the host of “Healing Ties” radio program.

1 Comment

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, On The Road To Spokane

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.

caregiver_story_cjmbrc2013

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.

1 Comment

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! 

screenshot_2016-01-15-08-49-40.png

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”

2 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving

Coming Soon: A New Book and A New Look


Exciting Times are about to happen at “The Purple Jacket” as my first book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” will be available this weekend (October 17th) on Amazon.com.  Check back here on the Purple Jacket for a direct link to purchase the book on Amazon when we go live this weekend.

“Here are a couple of testimonials from my upcoming book: “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”

Chris MacLellan, masterfully compiled advantageous information and resources that caregivers are desperately searching for. This book will help you make it through your caregiving campaign and survive in one piece. Having authored several dementia caregiving books myself, I constantly found myself nodding yes, and saying, “This book is right on the money.” This is a great collective wealth of resources for all caregivers, no matter what disease your loved one is ailing from. Author, 3D1Caregiver, Gary Joseph LeBlanc”

“I really love the approach you took with this – it’s different and of great interest to me as someone who was caregiving a loved one. It’s different because you are approaching it from angles that I don’t remember reading about before. You highlight important issues that sat at periphery of my awareness. I wish I had read this the year Kris started to wind down. Unfortunately I can’t go backwards, but for those now embarking on the caregiving journey it will be of immeasurable value.” Ira Woods, President and CEO of One World Memorials. Author’s Note: Please visit Ira Woods’ blog, Conscious Departures.com for his well-written and compelling story when Caregiving ends.

What else is new you might ask?  Well, we are moving domains to ‘The Bow Tie Guy.com”  This transition will happen over the next month wherebowtie guy rainbow 2_399 (1) we will be able to house all our podcasts, blog posts and our new resource area called the “Whole Care Network.”   The “Whole Care Network will be a mixture of podcasts, guest blog posts, and most importantly, trusted resources for you!

The resources in the “Whole Care Network” will center around the five pillars which I write about in my book, here is an exert:

“It is easy to get lost in Caregiving, I know it happened to me! Find purpose in the midst of Caregiving. Do not let your own health lag. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. These five pillars can get out of whack quickly, and when they do, it is all you can do to stay afloat. If there was one thing I could go back and change about my Caregiving experience, I would have taken better care of myself in all five of these areas. It’s “funny” the person who was insisting I take better care of myself, was the one I was caring for, my partner Richard.”

The “Whole Care Network” will feature trusted resources from professionals in all these area who will share their expertise with you.   But you know what is even more important?  For you to share your Caregiving expertise with them!  How can you WholeCareNetworkdo that you might ask?  Easy…share your story through a podcast with me on “Healing Ties!”  Everyone (Caregiver) has a story, but not everyone gets to share their story” now you have an outlet to share your story with me on a podcast!  For more details on how you can sign up for a podcast, simply email me at Chris@thepurplejacket.com.   Are you a professional who has a resource you would like to share?  Please, email me at Chris@thepurplejacket.com!

So what lies ahead for “The Bow Tie Guy”…

New Book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”

New Podcast format for “Healing Ties”

New Website “TheBowTieGuy.com”  (of course we will keep “The Purple Jacket” as this is where our Caregiving Story with my partner started”

I am available to speak to your company, organization or church on a variety of topics, email me at Chris@thepurplejacket.com for details.

Second Book in the works:  “Healing Ties” A Story about Love, Care, Cancer and Commitment in 2016.

Thesis project in conjunction with Gonzaga University (we are hoping to partner with another well-known Caregiving advocate and website, when that is formalized, I will be sure to let you know).  The thesis project will center around Caregiving, Stress and the financial impact to employers and employees.

Last but now least, we are your go to for travel planning.  In my book, there is an entire section geared toward how to travel with your Caree.  With that, I have become a group cruise specialist.  Be on the lookout for an announcement on our first After Caregiving cruise in 2016!

As I write in my book:  “Richard would want me to create a new life to love”…and while I wish he was here with me now, I know that he is standing right beside me!

Remember our slogan…”We might have (had) cancer, but cancer never had us!”

The Bow Tie Guys

Thanks for all your continued support as we move in with life after Caregiving ends!

4 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Be A Healthy Caregiver, Healing Ties

That Ride Down Memory Lane


Love has no age, no limit; and no death ~ John Galsworthy

 I started the journey down memory lane on Christmas eve just before 7:00 pm.  First stop was the beach front in Palm Beach, Fl., just across the street from

wpid-wp-1419525966838.jpeg

Beach Front: Palm Beach, FL.

where TLO and I had dinner last year.  No sure how I was going to react once I arrived at the scene to start of my journey, I took my tablet along and sat out on the beach as I knew my friend, Denise Brown was hosting a 36 hour chat on her wonderful website,  Caregiving.com for Caregivers who might need an extra support over the holidays.   While it took me a few minutes to log-on from my tablet, I was happy to find R.M. as the guest host.  Like me, R.M. has experienced  the loss of her husband; we had a great conversation which lasted close to 45 minutes:  R.M.’s conversation and comfort was just what I needed to meander down the road!  (By the way, if you have not visited Caregiving.com or Aftergiving.com, you’ll find a great supportive community there, I suggest you visit both website by clicking the hyperlink above!)

wpid-wp-1419525603576.jpeg

Christmas Lights on Ocean Dr

With Christmas Carol’s playing on the satellite radio, I headed south on Ocean Drive  as so many wonderful, and happy memories filled my time on the road.  Of course I missed his physical presence in the car, that gentle caress of his hand on mine.  Heck, I even missed his opinion, or two!  Seeing those beautiful lights on Ocean Drive reminded me how memories of love last a lifetime. Then it hit me…Death does not change love!  Sure, I may not remember something as mundane as how the Christmas lights were displayed in front of these homes in previous years, but I do remember how special our drives up and down Ocean Drive were to us was because our drives were apart of the love we shared together.

Just the other day I was at a party and was asked, “How long should someone grieve.”  Puzzled, I replied, “do you want the standard therapeutic  answer or one from the heart. Oh, I know the standard therapeutic answer, but I want to know your answer, since you’ve allowed so many people into your story.” My reply was simply this: “Just as love is unique between two people, so will be how one will deal with their own healing and grieving.  There is no time-table, there is no recipe for grief other than just to own it, embrace it and at least forwpid-wp-1419525578309.jpeg me, talk about it, because in time, it will get better.”
After talking to R.M. in the Caregiving.com chat room, I thought about this conversation last night  as I motored down the road on Ocean Drive. I think it was kind-of-like one of those  ‘AH-HA’ moment that we experience from time to time that lit a light bulb in my head, turned up my spirits, and reminded me to be thankful for what I had, rather than sad for what I think that I have lost: Death does not change love.
Yes, I have lost his physical presence in my life, but that doesn’t mean that I have lost his love in my life.  That was the big distinction

BRS_CJM_Hugs

Hugs and Love last forever

that I learned on my on Christmas Eve. When in the midst of healing and grieving, sometimes we need a trip down memory lane to help create our Healing Ties.

2 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Caregiving, Healing Ties, LGBT Caregiving, Life after Death

Going For A Ride on Christmas Eve


 Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

 Holiday HugsOne of the many things that I have missed this holiday season is the rides TLO and  I took to see the beautiful Christmas lights up and down Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida.  Usually our drives were filled with lots of chatter, or gossip, depending  on your point of view.  Yet one thing that we did during these rides that I miss the most is simply holding hands.  There is so many ways to express love, yet there is nothing more basic, more real, than to hold hands.  That gentle touch which bringshands comfort in so many ways, is missing this holiday season.
Christmas eve was always our special night.  Whether our pocket books were flush or not, we always made that evening, our evening.  We would sit down and plan for weeks about what posh restaurant where we would make our reservation.  Yet no matter20111225-083458.jpg where we decided to have dinner on Christmas eve, we always made plans to end the evening with a drive down Ocean Drive to see the Christmas lights.  Of course a nice ice cream cone was in order too!
I have not taken a drive down Ocean Drive this holiday season.  Yet I think I am going to take that ride on Christmas eve as a way to remember…as a way to celebrate our life together, as a way to create my own Healing Ties, but most of all, I am going to take that ride just to be thankful  for having the experience of love and being loved.  Caregiving is over for us; but love endures forever and love does make the ride worthwhile.
To all who are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace, comfort and lots of Holiday Hugs!

20 Comments

Filed under After Caregiving, Healing Ties, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples