Category Archives: On The Road To Spokane

Graduate: A Thesis Complete


An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Benjamin Franklin

The road to Spokane has come to a happy ending with the completion and acceptance of my thesis entitled… Spiral of Silence:  Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Workplace.   

Originally proposed by German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in 1974, Spiral of Silence is the term meant to refer to the tendency of people to remain silent when they feel that their views are in opposition to the majority view on a subject.  My theory suggested that working family caregivers, fearful of losing their job, do not self-identify at work because they feel that they are in the minority.  I am happy to report that 75% of the respondents who indicated that they did self-identify at work found some form of relief.  However, 25% of the respondents who did not self-identify at work as a family caregiver, were fearful of losing their job or that self-identifying would be of no help to them.  I am very grateful to Denise Brown from Caregiving.com for allowing me to take part in Caregiving.com yearly working family caregiving survey.  Please feel free to reach out to Denise Brown at denise@caregiving.com if you have any further questions about the working family caregiving survey and how you might get a copy.

Of course there is much more to the thesis; we have more work to do to bring awareness to the epidemic of stress that working family caregivers face on a daily basis.

It is difficult to find the words to describe the feeling of earning a Master’s Degree GU_logoin Leadership and Communication from Gonzaga University. I love the Jesuit tradition and the spirit of Gonzaga. Professor Michael Hazel has been terrific throughout the entire process, as have all of the staff at the University. I will always remember Dr. Hazel’s sage advice at the beginning of the thesis in January, when my goals were bigger than the time frame, “The best thesis is a completed thesis.”  Michael Hazel knows his “stuff!” It is a good feeling to have the thesis completed, an even better feeling to now be an alumnus of Gonzaga.  It is nice to know there are life-long friends in Spokane, WA.

11410888-smooth-road-ahead-good-times-recovery-yellow-street-sign-1is84y6I am getting ready to embark on a new road, (one that is not virtual as was my road to Spokane); I look ahead with anticipation and excitement because I am creating a life to love after caregiving ends through writing, radio, travel and advocacy.

Leave your limiting self-doubts behind and go and grab the life you have always dreamed.

That is my new road to follow!

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” and the executive producer and host of “Healing Ties” radio show  and a alumni of Gonzaga University!

 

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Making Life Happen


Learning never exhausts the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

The road to Spokane finds us in Washington, D.C. this week attending the American Society on Aging National Conference; it’s been quite wonderful expeience!

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I have to thank my good friends at the National Alliance For Caregiving for inviting me to participate in this event.

Amazing that one of the presentations I attended on Monday spoke directly about the effects of caregiving on employers and caregiving employees.  SPLENDID!  Goodness did I pick up quite a bit of great information on this topic as I finish my thesis. 

I’ve had the opportunity to connect with good friends like Amy Goyer from AARP…

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…and Tami Neumann and Cathy Braxton from Silver Dawn Communities. 

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Meeting Tami (left) has been extra special as we’ve been social media friends from years and have been on each other’s radio show a couple of times.  Tami is awesome, as is here business partner Cathy!

As I move through the massive amount of information here at the conference, I am reminded of the importance that life is about life long learning and that in the end, making life happen is just as important too.  Crawling out of my shell after Caregiving has ended, is the best medicine one can buy!

Chris MacLellan is the author of What’s The Deal With Caregiving? and the host of Healing Ties Radio program.
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The road to Spokane is my virtual tour leading up to graduation from Gonzaga University

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Employer Caregiving Survey


Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.  Peter Drucker

The road to Spokane moves on with our second and final survey, this one is for employers.   Last week we started to gather data from working family caregivers in conjunction with my good friend, Denise Brown from Caregiving.com.  Denise and I are teaming up again to gather data from organizations who have family caregivers as an employee.

I wrote about my experience as a working family caregiver extensively in Chapter 5 of my book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” and understand the difficulties from both the employee and employer side of the issue.  During my family caregiving experience, I was fortunate to work for Mark Ketcham at SunServe Social Services who understood the special needs of being a family caregiver.   Not every working family caregiver is that fortunate.

If you are an employer at any level in your organization, I encourage you to take this survey. The survey is 100% anonymous and will probably will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. We will share the results of the survey once my thesis is completed in May.

Here is the link to the Employer Family Caregiver Survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNKRKND

Chris MacLellan is an MA candidate at Gonzaga University studying Leadership and Communication and is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” radio program.

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Working Family Caregiving Survey


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

 Nelson Mandela

After a few days off, I am back on the road to Spokane.  I just hope I don’t get a virtual speeding ticket along the way!   After a couple of rewrites on chapter 2, I have moved on to to chapter 3 and 4 of my thesis project, “Caregiving, Stress and its Impact on the Work Place.”    I don’t want to bore you with the details of chapters 3 and 4, but this next part of the thesis is about the methodology and how to gather data.  This is where I need your help!

I am teaming up with my good friend, Denise Brown at Caregiving.com on her annual survey on Working Family Caregivers.  The survey is 100% anonymous, probably will take no more than 20 minutes to complete and we will share the results of the survey once the thesis is completed.  Here is a link to the survey Working Family Caregiving Survey

During our caregiving journey, I have met a number of wonderful people along the way,

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Denise Brown, Caregiving.com

none better than Denise Brown from Caregiving.com .  Denise has been advocating for family caregivers for over 20 years is recognized as a national expert on Caregiving.  I am proud to call her a friend.  If you have never visited Caregiving.com, now is the time to do it!  Denise’s soothing style and sage advice helps everyone along their caregiving journey.  Caregiving.com is like having an extended family!

 Please see Denis’s  blog post on February 24th, Take Our Survey: Working A Job and Caring for For A Family Member  and while reading Denise’s post, be sure to look around Caregiving.com for terrific information for all Caregivers!

To take the survey simply click here

To visit Caregiving.com simply click here! 

Chris MacLellan is a MA candidate in leadership and communication at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” and the host of “Healing Ties” radio show.

 

 

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Everyday: Live, Love, Laugh!


God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.  Voltaire

I am taking break from the road to Spokane today to enjoy my 59th birthday. (Don’t tell anyone, but I am going bowling again!) Oh, but don’t worry, writing of chapter 3 is in earnest (please believe me)  and I suspect that my professor and mentor at Gonzaga University will have an update for me to do on  chapter 2 before this weekend is over.

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The MacLellan Six: Jim, JoAnn, Sissy, Chris, Gerri & Mary 

One of the greatest things about being the youngest of six, is that no matter how old I get, I will always be the youngest!  When I was younger, I always thought it was a disadvantage to be the youngest.  But through the years, my philosophy on that has changed.  As I get older, my thoughts on the aging has changed, too.  That is why I love Voltaire’s quote: “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

 

My sister Mary has the best philosophy

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“Sister” Mary and her trademark BIG Sunglasses 

of life, she decided, long ago, to stay 29. I think she might be on her 43rd year of being 29, but who’s counting and why does it matter?   She happily tells everyone that she has kids that are older than her.  It’s all about mind over matter, because age is only a number, it is how you feel that makes the difference.  

 

Aging takes on a different meaning for each one of us. Some of us are old when we are young: Some of us are young when we are old. When Richard’s illness progressed, people were surprised to learn

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photo credit: Lynda Horn

of his age.  His age never showed until the last six months of his life.  Richard lived life to the fullest, he did not let any grass grow underneath his feet. Throughout his entire life, he gave himself the gift of living well.  I always admired him for his philosophy on life.  He took no prisoners.

As caregivers we often forget that our first job is to take good care of ourselves.  This mindset is not selfish, remember “it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  In the hustle and bustle of caring for someone else, we tend to lose sight of ourselves. I know it happen to me, and I would be willing to bet that losing yourself in the midst of caregiving happened to you too.    In retrospect, I know that my inability to take better care of myself while in the midst of caregiving, has made life after caregiving more difficult.   Thankfully, I can make the choice to give myself the gift of living well.

wp-1455795314060.jpgBirthday’s come and go, some have more meaning than others.  No matter how long I live, I will always admire my sibling for their graceful aging.  Additionally, I will always remember greeting Richard in the doctors office on my 57th birthday to find him sitting there with balloons tied to his chair, waiting for me to arrive so that he could surprise me with his big birthday splash…. It’s a memory etched in stone.

There is much to live, love and laugh when celebrating another birthday, because its not about the number you obtain on your special day,  it is about giving ourselves the gift to live well every day..

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” Radio on Spreaker and UK Health Live

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Bowling For (No) Dollars


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

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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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