Tag Archives: OnTheRoadToSpokane

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