Tag Archives: Gonzaga University

Caregivers As Servant Leaders


A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way ~ John C. Maxwell

Just recently I have come across a new meaning for family Caregivers, one that I have learned while finishing my master’s degree in Leadership and Communication at Gonzaga University and that is the connection caregivers have to Servant Leadership.

Robert Greenleaf is known as the founder of Servant Leadership and once said: “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve; to serve first. The conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual tiles-1424714_1920power drive or to acquire material possessions.”   While  Servant Leadership focus is on Business, Managers and Work Place Culture, I see a connection to Caregivers as Servant Leaders  because of our role to serve first, to advocate, to be the voice for those who could not speak, to put ourselves second.

Some of the characteristics of a work-place culture driven by Servant Leadership is that staff is fully engaged, feels a strong commitment to the cause, find purpose and have passion. Organizations who propose a culture of Servant Leaders are mindful of the whole, empower their employees to be connected and contributing.  Stephen Covey was the “Greeenleaf” of leadership training for the military back in the 90’s,  In Greenleaf (2002), Stephen Covey stated that, “The deepest part of human nature is that which urges people—each one of us—to rise above our present circumstances and to transcend our common nature. If you can appeal to it, you tap into a whole new source of human motivation.”

I see quite a bit of philosophy entwined between Servant Leadership and being a family caregiver. Caregivers are commitment to the cause, find purpose and have passion to care.  Caregivers are mindful of their caree, while understanding that their caree needs to feel empowered, loved, connected and contributing.  Because of the innate ability of the caregiver to think beyond self, caregiving and Servant Leadership goes hand-in-hand.

Organizations who commit to the philosophy of Servant Leadership will certainly understand the special needs of working family caregivers. These same organizations will be leaders in helping the working family caregiver reduce conflicts when an emergency arise and they have to choose between going to work, or staying home to care for their caree. Employers who understand their bottom-line and return on investment is vested in how they treat their most important customer, their employee, lead by example and reap all the  benefits of having a work-place culture that promotes open dialogue and passion with employees.

You can’t put a price tag on employee morale, or can you?

We are all Servant Leaders in training, and our training in Servant Leadership is ongoing, it never stops. Servant Leadership is about relationships.   Even after Caregiving has ended for me, I am still in training, learning how to care for myself while being present to my family, friends and co-workers.  Life After Caregiving is about relationships, too.  I see the connection to Servant Leadership and Caregiving, do you?

Oh…what did being a family caregiver mean to me? It meant the world! Because in the end, just as in the beginning of our caregiving journey, we were fortunate to have some of the most meaningful conversations with each other, while spending every second, minute, hour, day, month and year together.

 

 

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The Love Not Fear Movement


“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann was a German political scientist who developed a mass communication theory called the Spiral of Silence.  The Spiral of Silence is a 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.  People who feel they are in the minority, sense isolation, fear or exclusion  and tend to remain silent instead of voicing opinions.  Often used in a political or media content,  Noelle-Neumann’s Spiral of Silence mass communication theory explains the growth and spread of public opinion.

It’s time to break our silence and exchange fear for love. 

People, like myself, who have lived in fear for a variety of reasons, often tend to stay silent until they experience that “Ah-Ha” moment and come to realize that fear is useless.th (2)As a young man, my fear always centered around my sexual orientation.  As I have grown older, my fear has shifted to fearing success. What a quagmire; life is a process...I am letting go of my fears.

In today’s society,  there seems to be a cultural bias that leans towards fear? Cable news tends to report more negative aspects of life and politics: Are things really bad as they appear (political climate) or is our current climate permeated by a lack of leadership, poor communication skills or…fear?   Where has open, honest and respectable dialogue gone from our leaders?   The Spiral of Silence is alive in our own fears.

One of the ways of letting go of fear is to embrace communication from the standpoint of love.  That is what the Love Not Fear Movement is all about.  I think all of us recognize from our diversity, we are not always going to agree,  nor am I am suggesting that we live in acalmPollyanna world.  However, when we focus our communication to others with love, we tear down walls, not build them. We lift people up, not criticize them. We disagree with respect, and learn from our differences.   We then break the Spiral of Silence

How do we build a community that surrounds us with the lovenotfearlogomessage of love?  Listen in and learn how Jeff Johnson is eliminating fear (and the Spiral of Silence) through the Love Not Fear Movement!   Because in the end…Love Is The Winner! 

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving? and the Executive Producer and Host of Healing Ties Radio. 

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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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Bedtime dreams on a Thesis


We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future. George Bernard Shaw

The road to Spokane has gotten a little bumpy (no I did not get a virtual ticket) the last couple of nights, but thankfully, I was able to submit chapter 3 this weekend, albeit a few days late; I hope Dr. Hazel does not mind! (I already am sensing a short rewrite)  Now we are in the process of gathering data from our working family caregivers survey and next week, we will start gathering data from employers through a second survey.   If you have not taken the working family caregiving survey, there is still plenty of time to do so.  Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/workcare2016

Approaching two years since Richard’s passing and six months since my book “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” was published, this past week has been an emotional roller coaster.  In an earlier post, I wrote about getting beyond compassion fatigue, and I have also written about the different levels of grief that I have experience since Richard made his life transition. However, what I did not anticipate while working on the survey and thesis project is the diverse reflections and intense emotions about Richard and our Caregiving experience .

Since Richard made his life transition, I have have had very few dreams about him.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Symbolism In Communication  where I wrote about receiving a text message from Richard’s old telephone which has been turned off for almost two years.  Now, this week, while working on this thesis project, I have had two very vivid dreams, back to back, about Richard.  In the first dream, we were at the hospice unit, the second dream is difficult to describe, but intense.  I woke up with a massive headache the morning after the second dream.

wp-1455801922917.jpgWhile I do not attempt to psychoanalyze these dreams, it has made me stop and think about my role as a family caregiver and my life after caregiving has ended.  I know in my heart and my mind that I did all I could for Richard and no matter what I think I could have done differently, nothing was going to change Richard’s destiny as the cancer had spread throughout his body.   However, the knowledge of knowing and accepting that I did all I could for him, does not change the fact of how much I miss him.

I continue to believe that it is important for family caregivers to share their story as they feel comfortable.  Every family caregiver learns something when another caregiver’s story is told.  Yet when is it time to move on?  I guess I am asking myself that question now.   Caregiving is an intense experience, life after caregiving can be just as intense, but different.   

During the intensity of the daily grind of being a family caregiver, there are times when we think we are weak when in essence, we are quite strong.  The dreams of the past week reminds me that it’s okay to be vulnerable as it will only make me stronger as I get continue to adjust to life, now that caregiving has ended.

The Road To Spokane is my virtual story on the way to graduation from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington

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

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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,

Denise Brown

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

BigGlasses

“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

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.

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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

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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